If you are using Salesforce and Microsoft Outlook, it’s likely you’re spending at least some of your time carrying out duplicate tasks.

You’re not alone. Many teams do.

Salesforce for Outlook is designed to combat this inefficiency. Acting as a link between your CRM and your email, it aims to reduce duplicate work between the two systems.

This article covers all details about the now deprecated solution that Salesforce used to provide for free.

Looking for a reliable way to keep your Outlook and Salesforce in sync?

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Functions of Salesforce for Outlook
  3. When to use Salesforce for Outlook
  4. How to set up Salesforce for Outlook
  5. Examples of Use-Cases
  6. Deprecation of Salesforce for Outlook
  7. Alternatives

Introduction

Salesforce for Outlook has been around for a good number of years. However, at the end of 2018, Salesforce announced that the product was to be deprecated.

As of writing, you can only use Salesforce for Outlook if someone in your organization is already using it. New customers will have to seek alternatives.

We’ll take look at what it is, how it works and how it can be optimized to benefit your sales team. But also, why it is being retired and what alternatives your organization can use.

What is Salesforce for Outlook?

Salesforce for Outlook is an app you install in your Outlook email client to help to keep the data in sync between your Salesforce org and Outlook.

Its primary function is to allow you to see related CRM data when you are looking at an email in your CRM.

For example, when you select an email in Outlook, you can see related Salesforce records, such as contacts, leads, opportunities and tasks in the sidebar on your screen. You can also add Outlook emails, attachments and tasks to your Salesforce contacts directly. All of this takes place within your Outlook solution so you don’t have to switch between apps.

The main benefits of the app:

  • Reduces work duplication
  • Allows you to stay in control of your business
  • Minimizes errors
  • Saves time

Replacing Connect for Outlook

Salesforce for Outlook was introduced as a replacement for Connect for Outlook because although the app was popular, its functionality was limited. The main problem was that Connect for Outlook’s code lived within Outlook, so it was at the mercy of Outlook’s changes and updates.

Customers soon fed back to Salesforce however, that the integration with Outlook was cumbersome and unwieldy. They thought it was not intelligent or intuitive enough. This resulted in salespeople wasting time syncing data between the two apps, rather than moving deals forward.

The settings within Connect for Outlook were complex. Conflicts had to be managed manually. Administrating Connect for Outlook was complicated, as it required XML files to be moved around and Windows Registry settings to be exactly right. It also slowed salespeople’s Outlook down so much it became unusable.

So all in all, not a great start for the new world of Saleforce for Outlook.

Connect for Outlook
Screenshot from Connect for Outlook

The New Solution

Salesforce developed a new integration between their app and Outlook, one that moved administration and functionality to the cloud. This meant less input was required from the user and the organization.

Running the code for the new integration outside of Outlook minimized Salesforce’s impact on Outlook and vice versa. The architecture could be more lightweight, more reliable and of more use to their customers.

The ethos behind the new integration was focusing on the latest versions of Outlook rather than pre-2010 editions, integrating across Salesforce including Service Cloud, and giving users more control over their integration.

There was also a view to the increased take-up of mobile solutions. In 2010, the smartphone was beginning to gain critical mass and users were doing business on them. A new solution had to take this into account and offer mobile compatibility in the future. Data had to be able to be transferred on the go, not just at the desktop.

Salesforce for Outlook was born.

Why integrate Salesforce and Outlook?

To understand why it is desirable to have integration between Salesforce and Outlook in a sales team, you must understand why salespeople use both solutions. Salesforce and Outlook are useful for the smooth running of a sales team, but there is some overlap between their functions.

Why salespeople use Outlook

Salespeople use Outlook for three main reasons:

First, sending emails. Email is an economical, easy and effective way to engage with prospects and customers. It’s especially effective at driving relationships forward. Organizations spend time and effort in crafting powerful email messages for marketing. When it comes to the intricacies of doing the deal, email is great because everything is there in writing, ready to go back to whenever you wish. Email removes the ambiguities that sometimes arise from doing deals over the phone. Microsoft Outlook most commonly used email solution.

Next, administrating contacts. You can use Outlook to maintain every important piece of information on their prospects and customers. From email address and telephone number, to their birthday, you can store it all on Outlook and access it at any time.

Finally, reps use Outlook to schedule meetings. The Outlook calendar is widely used in business, so reps can send invitations to their customers, which can be accepted and saved in both parties’ calendars. Salespeople will use the Outlook calendar to plan their entire days, weeks and months.

How does using Salesforce benefit sales teams?

In a nutshell, Salesforce enables sales teams to keep track of their sales processes. This can be broken down into three main tasks:

  • Contacts and pipeline – Firstly, Salesforce can be used to maintain details of a sales teams’ contacts and pipeline. Contact information is saved in leads, contacts, accounts and more. Opportunities are used to keep track of individual deals.
  • Schedule meetings – Salesforce has a calendar function where sales reps can enter details of their meetings. This is essential since meeting bookings is often a key metric for salespeople. Again, they will relate to other records in Salesforce.
  • Track deals – Sales teams can easily track deals in the pipeline, alongside logging all customer and prospect interactions with Salesforce. When selling, reps need every piece of information available so they can properly serve their customer. That information is centrally stored in Salesforce so everybody in the organization has access to the same data.

The Duplication Issue

A common problem Salespeople often encounter is having to perform some of the same tasks in Salesforce as they are in Outlook. However, not all tasks can be done on both applications, which is why it is necessary to have both in your technology stack.

The following tasks are done in both applications:

  • Tracking contacts
  • Scheduling meetings
  • Tracking changes in the deal (initiated via email then tracked in Salesforce)

This duplication is a problem for sales teams for a number of reasons, which we’ll discuss next.

Inefficient use of time

For any sales team, time is valuable. Every minute you can have your reps serving customers is desirable. If the reps in your team are performing the same tasks twice, it is inefficient and takes away from valuable selling time.

Integration between Salesforce and Outlook, like other sales automation systems, is a solution to this problem. Automation enables the rep to only enter information once in one application, while the tranwith the automation doing the rest and performing the transfer, more time can be spent talking to customers.

They can get back to hitting their targets which is essential not only for themselves, but also for management and the organization.

Minimizing human error

When a salesperson has to enter a piece of data into both apps, Outlook and Salesforce, the chances of them making a mistake double.

In high-performance sales teams, reps are under substantial amounts of pressure to achieve. They may have to hit KPIs regarding:

  • Number of calls made per day
  • Number of demos booked
  • Amount of revenue generated

Sales reps know that hitting these targets is the most essential aspect of their role. It’s only right that they devote the majority of their time and effort towards them.

On top of the pressure to hit targets, there is the day-to-day pressure of life in a sales team. Reps have to prepare for meetings. They have to deal with incoming calls and emails. They may have direct reports to look after.

With all this going on, it’s understandable that entering data into Salesforce isn’t considered a top priority task. Yet everyone knows the benefits of having Salesforce fully updated.

  • Having all the facts about a customer at your fingertips
  • Knowledge of where you are against target at all times
  • The ability to share information across departments and sites within your organization

However, when it comes down to it, reps will try to update their Salesforce as quickly as possible. This is where errors happen. More speed, less quality.

Confidence in data is critical

Even minor errors when entering data into Salesforce can cause significant problems in the worst-case scenario. A misplaced letter in a contact’s email address could result in none of your emails reaching their intended destination. It’s a problem that is easily fixable once you have discovered it, but how many important messages may go astray before you realize something is wrong? The same is true if a client company changes its details, but you neglect to update every record of it in Salesforce.

Perhaps the most serious problems associated with human error in Salesforce involves mis-entering figures. Even a decimal point in the wrong place can have serious consequences. It could affect:

  • Reporting revenue (or potential revenue) figures to the rest of your organization
  • Forecasting figures for future periods
  • Other functions of your organization (e.g. billing, credit control, budgeting)

Hopefully, mistakes like these can be spotted and fixed before the consequences become too severe. However, there is always the potential for disaster when you rely on human beings to input essential data when they are under pressure.

Organizations need to have confidence in their data, so anything you can do to minimize the amount of human input into data entry is desirable.

Enter Salesforce for Outlook.

Finally, the integrity of an organization’s Salesforce CRM depends on the amount of data that actually exists in it.

Missing data

In theory, sales reps, however hard they work, should be updating every field in their CRM with relevant data, whenever there is a new development in their sales cycle with a customer. In practice, however, this rarely happens. Sales reps enter in the minimum amount of information necessary. This causes blank data fields in Salesforce, which means the team do not have the optimum amount of information on their customers and sales processes.

If integration between Outlook and Salesforce can mean more useful data reaches the CRM, that can only be a benefit to your sales team.

Functions of Salesforce for Outlook

Functions of Salesforce for Outlook

When you install the Salesforce for Outlook app, you get to take advantage of three main functions.

  • See and connect relevant Salesforce data in Outlook
  • Access Salesforce functions in your Outlook app
  • Sync contacts and events

Let’s look at these functions in turn and how they help sales teams perform more efficiently.

When you can see and connect relevant Salesforce data in your Outlook app, you and your team can achieve a better understanding of your prospects and customers. Reps can easily add emails that are important to the sales process into Salesforce, so the rest of the team, who, of course, have access to Salesforce too, can easily see what is happening. This adds to the adoption of Salesforce across your team. It also saves manually entering data from Outlook into Salesforce, which saves time and decreases the chances for mistakes.

Being able to access major Salesforce functions in the Outlook app is a significant time saver for your team. With this ability, there is no need to switch between Outlook and Salesforce when you want to perform tasks such as:

  • Creating Salesforce records, such as leads, opportunities, accounts or contacts
  • Adding email information or calendar events to your Salesforce contacts
  • Searching through your Salesforce records

Introducing sync

The ability to sync your contacts and events saves time and boosts accuracy because it removes duplication of work. It also means other members of the sales team can have an eye on activities which are relevant to the sales process, which is handy when team members are away or change jobs.

These Salesforce for Outlook functions go a long way to making your sales team more productive.

Now let’s look in more detail at how Salesforce for Outlook handles different pieces of information.

Syncing Email

Salesforce for Outlook handles email in a user-friendly intuitive way, meaning the salesperson can quickly transfer information between the two apps without losing their train of thought and disrupting their workflow.

If the salesperson opens Outlook and sees they have a new email from a customer, asking an important question related to sales, it’s essential this information is transferred to Salesforce. For example, the customer could be asking for a price or attempting to arrange a demo.

With the Salesforce Outlook integration, this is an easy task to perform. A drop-down menu on the right of your screen allows the rep to link this email to an existing Salesforce record. The email will then be copied to Salesforce. If the email is from a new customer, there is an addtional option to create a new record – all without having to leave your Outlook app.

Information flow using the Salesforce for Outlook plugin isn’t all one-way traffic. For example, you can create an email template in Salesforce which you can easily use in Outlook when replying to customers’ emails. This is useful for ensuring consistent messaging in your sales process.


Syncing Calendar

Salesforce for Outlook is just as intuitive when it comes to handling data in your calendar. As with email, you can transfer information from your Outlook calendar to relevant Salesforce records in a few clicks without leaving the Outlook app.

If a calendar event on your Outlook calendar has a contact from your Salesforce included in it, all you have to do is click a button to add the event, and the automation will do the rest. It is also possible to sync recurring events.

Alternatively, you can select Salesforce for Outlook to sync all calendar entries. However, make sure your reps select the option to ignore private events. Otherwise, their dental appointments and partners’ birthdays will be all over your Salesforce calendar!

This functionality cuts down on work duplication, but it also means that everyone in your sales team knows where reps are during working hours. As a sales team grows it also clutters the calendar, which is why organizations don’t often use this functionality.


Syncing Contacts

Salesforce for Outlook can keep your essential Outlook and Salesforce contacts in sync. As with events, the main functionality used for this is to manually sync contacts by clicking a button.

When contacts sync for the first time, Salesforce for Outlook checks the database to see whether a this contact already exists in Salesforce. To do so, it looks at email address, name and company name. If it finds a match, the two contacts are merged. If a match cannot be found, Salesforce for Outlook will automatically create a new contact and sync the data there.

Like the other functions of Salesforce for Outlook, this eliminates duplication of work. It also keeps the Salesforce database up-to-date with all the relevant customer contact details a team needs to sell effectively.

When to use Salesforce for Outlook

Benefits

The benefits of Salesforce for Outlook are that it offers functions that solve the problems we identified earlier, of duplication of work and the likelihood of human error causing issues in the sales process.

The Salesforce for Outlook plugin makes the transfer of vital information between the two apps easier. In practice, Salesforce for Outlook more than halves the time it used to take to transfer data between Outlook and Salesforce, because it picks out the relevant information and assigns it to the appropriate contact, without the Salesforce user having to copy and paste information, or find the contact manually. Salespeople can spend that extra time serving customers and selling.

In addition, because the information is transferred automatically, without having to be entered manually by the user, it cuts down on human error, stray letters or numbers, leading to inaccuracies further down the line in the sales cycle. In fact, because most of the data it transfers will come directly from customer emails, rather than from the salesperson, you can be sure the information is accurate.

Confidence in data

Salesforce for Outlook means organizations can be more confident in the data that they hold. Salesforce data is essential for reporting and forecasting, so this integration aids organizations in these tasks. It also means reps can easily access all the information they need on a customer when they are selling to them. It helps reps compose more relevant, targeted, powerful emails, as they have all the information in front of them when writing an email on Outlook. In this way, it helps you create a smoother customer experience.

Installation of Salesforce for Outlook can usually be done in less than 10 minutes. On installation, the app will sync data from both solutions to make sure the same information is being displayed on both. This could take a bit longer, depending on the amount of data that needs to be synced.

Finally, it means Salesforce adoption within your sales team increases because it becomes easier to work with.

Issues

We have Salesforce for Outlook can bring a number of benefits to a team. However, it is not the perfect application. There are issues with Salesforce for Outlook which, in practice, can create extra struggles for a sales team.

Dependency on active usage

This may sound obvious, but it needs saying. For Salesforce for Outlook to work optimally and provide all the above benefits for your sales team, sales reps actually have to use it. If members of your team do not use it, you won’t be able to get all the relevant information you need into your Salesforce CRM.

For sales reps to be able to use Salesforce for Outlook, you may need to train them on how it works. To compel them to use it, especially if Salesforce for Outlook tasks have to be done manually at any time, you may need to add a stage to your sales process or add an extra line to your sales playbook.

The best way to get sales reps to use a product like Salesforce for Outlook is for them to see the benefits of it at an early stage. If they can see how using Salesforce for Outlook will make their lives easier, as well as making it easier to sell, bring in revenue and make commission, they are more likely to embrace this change.

Restricted to desktop

Another issue is that Salesforce for Outlook only works between the desktop versions of Salesforce and Outlook. It does not function on the Salesforce or Outlook mobile apps. This can cause extra work because, in today’s world of sales, a lot of communication via email happens on mobile devices. Reps can also use Salesforce on their mobiles while they are not in the office. To get the most out of Salesforce for Outlook, especially for any of the tasks that have to be carried out manually, reps will have to wait until they are at their desktop workstations. This can cause delays in the transfer of information.

Effect on Outlook performance

A final issue with Salesforce for Outlook is that when syncs are taking place, it can make Outlook slow down and even crash. Every time the app is updated by Salesforce, the product gets better and this problem is made slightly better, but it has never been entirely solved.

There are few things more irritating when you are trying to work than your email app freezing, it disrupts the natural rhythm of your work.

Limitations

Salesforce for Outlook is a useful app which many sales teams take many benefits from. However, it does also have its limitations. There are features which some users believe they could benefit from which are not included in Salesforce for Outlook in its current iteration.

Custom objects

Custom objects are your go-to functionality on the exceptional occasion that native Salesforce objects are not enough. They allow Salesforce to store data that doesn’t fit into any of its usual CRM categories, such as Leads, Accounts, Users or Contracts.

If an object is a database of information, a custom object is simply one that you create yourself, rather than one that Salesforce provides for you (standard objects).

Custom objects can be used when you want to create a database in Salesforce that is specific to your organization. If your organization conducts sales in a way that is unique, Salesforce might not be able to keep track of it when used normally. There are also industries that do business slightly different from the norm. In this case, you will need to customize Salesforce so it can communicate all the information that you and your team will need.

Unfortunately, Salesforce for Outlook isn’t as compatible with custom objects as it is with standard objects. You cannot add custom objects to the Salesforce for Outlook side panel on your Outlook screen, nor can you add emails to custom objects with only one click. Both of these functions are possible when dealing with standard objects in Salesforce.

Email tracking

Tracking notifications have been around since the beginning of email in the form of ‘read receipts’. When you send an email, you can tick a box that tells you that your email has been securely delivered and that your recipient has opened it. However, this required the recipient to give permission to send the receipt back to you. It interrupted their workflow and is now perceived as bad email etiquette.

Today, software allows email tracking to take place in the background, so no one is interrupted. You can also track more interactions using software, not just whether your email has been opened.

It’s always useful to know if a customer has read the emails that you send them. While most email solutions offer this function, Salesforce for Outlook does not. When you send an email to one of your contacts from Salesforce using Outlook, you cannot track it. This means you do not get to take advantage of the knowledge that your email has been opened and you are on the customer’s mind. This knowledge is extremely useful when following up.

Accessing and editing Salesforce records in your inbox

Salesforce for Outlook allows users to add emails to Salesforce records. However, it is not possible to seamlessly edit records from your Outlook screen. To do this, you have to go back into your Salesforce app. Many users think this would be a great function to include, a real time-saver, but it has not been added yet.

Office 365

To be able to obtain the benefits of using Salesforce for Outlook, your accounts with Microsoft and Salesforce have to be exactly right.

Salesforce for Outlook only works with Microsoft Office 365 customers. Microsoft Office 365 is Microsoft’s suite of business applications, bundled together in one package for total control and convenience. Office 365 contains all the software you grew up with, such as Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint, plus much more. It’s one of the most wide-ranging office packages on the market today. Whatever solutions you need to run your business, it’s possible you can find them on Office 365.

Another benefit of Office 365 is that you can buy it on a subscription plan which gives you automatic updates. It’s a cost-effective, efficient way to purchase office software. Businesses do not have to worry about the lifecycle of their software and whether it will become obsolete. Because the software updates automatically, you will always have the latest version with the new must-have features.

However, some organizations will have their reasons for not subscribing to Office 365. Unfortunately, they will not be able to use Salesforce for Outlook.

Salesforce Enterprise Edition

Because Salesforce is 100% cloud-based, sales teams can access information on a customer wherever there is an internet connection. Information on Salesforce updates in real time, allowing for fast transfer of intelligence between team members, essential when reps are collaborating on a deal. The Salesforce Mobile App, formerly known as Salesforce1, gives sales reps all the essential features of desktop Salesforce on their smartphones. Like Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce operates a monthly subscription rate per user for its services. However, you can pay more or less for different packages and different levels of service. These are, in ascending order of price and features:

  • Salesforce Essentials
  • Lightning Professional
  • Salesforce Lightning Enterprise
  • Lightning Unlimited

To take advantage of the Salesforce for Outlook plugin, you need to be on the Enterprise or Unlimited packages. If you are on Essentials or Professional, you will not be able to use Salesforce Outlook integration.

This may price some smaller businesses out of the market for this valuable and time-saving service.

Email protocols

IMAP is the protocol that allows you to access your email accounts wherever you are, on whatever app on whatever device you choose. For example, when you access your Gmail using the Outlook app on your Apple iPhone, it’s IMAP that allows you to do this. It’s an essential protocol for business email users, enabling them to keep in touch with colleagues, prospects and customers wherever they are.

With IMAP, you can access your email from as many different devices as you wish. You can move emails into folders or delete them entirely. All your devices sync together, so you see exactly the same inbox on every device.

POP is another email protocol that you can use on your devices. With POP, if you wanted to delete an email, you would have to remove it from every device manually. POP is great if you only want to see your email on one device, but for multiple devices, you really need to use IMAP.

Unfortunately, Salesforce for Outlook is not compatible with IMAP or POP.

Considerations

You have seen the benefits Salesforce for Outlook can bring to your business, but before you dive in and start using it, it’s advisable to make sure it is the right solution for you. Some organizations have installed Salesforce for Outlook for their staff, but later found out that it didn’t work the way they expected it to. Here are some points you must consider before you start implementing Salesforce for Outlook:

Firstly, you must check that your team has the right software already installed on the right devices. To use Salesforce for Outlook, you need to have a subscription to Microsoft Office 365, as well as Salesforce Enterprise Edition or Unlimited. You must check that all the system requirements are met. Incidentally, functionality for Salesforce for Outlook on Apple Mac computers was only added in 2016, many years after the integration was first introduced. Before this update, Salesforce for Outlook could only be used on PCs running Microsoft Windows. Even today, Mac users must set up a workaround to enable Salesforce for Outlook to run correctly.

Individual users

You must also evaluate whether you want your team members to have the ability to add information from their emails to your Salesforce CRM whenever they choose. It is advisable to invest in training for your team members as you implement the Salesforce plugin for Outlook. If you don’t want to do this, there are numerous instruction videos for Salesforce for Outlook available on YouTube.

You must also decide on the amount of access you want to give the individual members of your team. Do you really want your team to be able to modify delicate settings in Salesforce for Outlook? You can choose to give users the ability to alter the following settings. We will talk about these in greater detail below:

  • Whether or not to sync an object
  • The direction of sync
  • Which app takes precedence in a data conflict
  • How fields are mapped

Probably the most sensible advice is not to allow individual users to have access to these settings. It’s advisable to let only your Salesforce admins alter settings such as these. Admins must be confident that Salesforce and the rest of the software in your organization is running correctly, to the correct configuration. They cannot do that part of their job if too many people have access to the controls.

It is possible to create new and separate Outlook configurations for individual Salesforce for Outlook users, if there is a true need to do so.

Options for syncing contacts

When installing your Salesforce add in for Outlook, you need to consider how you want your contacts to sync when you run it for the first time. On installation, Salesforce for Outlook will move contacts across. This can be useful, but it can also go wrong.

You have three options to choose from. You can sync your contacts both ways (between Salesforce and Outlook and vice versa), from Salesforce to Outlook only, or from Outlook to Salesforce only.

Your first thought may be to select contacts to sync both ways. However, if you do this, you run the risk of your team members’ personal contacts, that they keep in their Outlook contacts database, being transferred into your Salesforce CRM. You don’t really need your sales rep’s girlfriend in your CRM system!

There are settings you can alter to prevent this from happening. However, in the first instance, you may want to choose to transfer contact data from Salesforce into Outlook, rather than the other way around.

Options for syncing tasks and calendar events

The same is true for tasks and events as it is with contacts. On installation, Salesforce for Outlook will transfer all the information between Salesforce and Outlook, and vice versa, should you choose it.

With tasks and calendar events, there is less risk of private events being transferred across. However, if your team members use the Outlook calendar options on their smartphones to organize their lives, you may prefer not to sync between Outlook and Salesforce. On the other hand, it is good to have all your reps’ activities in Outlook and Salesforce, as it is a failsafe.

Which app takes precedence?

If there is a conflict between data held in Salesforce and Outlook once you have installed the Salesforce for Outlook app, you need to decide which solution takes precedence. The best way to decide which one is to think about how you tend to run things in your organization. Do you and your team usually manage your day-to-day lives (calendars, tasks etc.) in Outlook, or do you spend more time and give more credence to information held in Salesforce? Whichever one you use most should be the winner in any conflict.

What is your plan of attack?

If you have existing data to sync between Salesforce and Outlook, then it is advisable to have a plan to make it run smoothly. This is especially important if you are implementing Salesforce for Outlook in a large team with lots of users.

An idea recommended by some experts is rather than doing it all in one go, install Salesforce for Outlook user by user, one at a time. The first user you should move over to Salesforce for Outlook should be the one with the most up-to-date and accurate contacts book. That way, their more reliable data will take precedence over other users’ less accurate data. Make the first user the ‘patient zero’ and only add contacts that aren’t already in the system from other users in the team. Follow this process until you have migrated the whole team over to Salesforce for Outlook.

Installing Salesforce for Outlook

Security

When you run a business, security is paramount, online and offline. Most businesses’ email accounts will contain sensitive information that they would not want to leave the protection of their servers. There are text and attachments there that are essential and confidential.

However, businesses are a target for hackers and other types of cybercriminal. When sensitive business information is being transferred across devices and between two different apps, as it is with Salesforce for Outlook, it is absolutely essential that these transfers are as secure as they can possibly be.

Room for improvement

Online security experts have looked into the way the Salesforce for Outlook plugin transfers information between the two solutions. While they found that Salesforce are taking precautions to ensure that the transfers are secure, there is room for improvement.

When Salesforce for Outlook passes email contents and attachments between the two apps, it uses Exchange Web Services rather than the standard Outlook client. This is perceived as risky by some experts. Exchange Web Services is thought to be not as secure as Outlook and easier for malicious parties to enter. Using Exchange Web Services removes a barrier between the rest of the world and your data, that really should be there in a perfect world.

Response to concerns

Salesforce accepts these concerns. However, Salesforce believes its email data transfers are as secure as they can be, and that their methods have been vetted and approved by Microsoft. Salesforce and Microsoft are working together constantly to ensure the security of their products. Salesforce assert that Exchange Web Services is absolutely secure in its default, out of the box configuration.

Salesforce advises their Salesforce for Outlook users who are concerned about security to refer to Microsoft for information around this subject. Microsoft offer best practices around Exchange Web Services, which after all, is one of their products, not Salesforce’s. If a user has a specific requirement around email security, they will be able to find a solution from Microsoft themselves.

This is good advice. If you are concerned with the security of your data when using Salesforce for Outlook, make sure you research an answer. Salesforce for Outlook is a valuable solution for your sales team. When it works, it works well.

Further security information

Regarding data protection, Salesforce supports delegated authentication and Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) requirements for Salesforce for Outlook. When using SAML for Salesforce for Outlook, My Domain is mandatory. When using delegated authentication, individuals must log into Salesforce the first time they use Salesforce for Outlook. When using SAML for Salesforce for Outlook, My Domain is compulsory.

For usernames and passwords, Salesforce for Outlook uses OAuth 2.0 to verify with Salesforce. It stores usernames and encrypted OAuth refresh tokens locally. It never stores passwords. Connection to Salesforce is achieved with SSL 128-bit encryption through an HTTPS connection.

System requirements

Once you have decided to install Salesforce for Outlook and taken all the relevant factors into consideration, you can download the Salesforce for Outlook installer package from the Salesforce site. You must make sure your system is set up to run Salesforce for Outlook, in line with the system requirements.

Default email requirements

Your default email program must be a version of Microsoft Outlook using the Microsoft Exchange Online feature of the Office 365 package or Microsoft Exchange Server on your own site.

Microsoft Exchange is a hosted email server solution, provided by Microsoft and dedicated for business. It’s used by small businesses and some of the biggest companies in the world because it works seamlessly across multiple sites. It also brings peace of mind because your business’ emails are being stored, managed and guarded by one of the biggest tech companies in the world. Microsoft recently launched Exchange Server 2019 with notable upgrades to security and capacity.

Email accounts provided through Microsoft Exchange can be accessed anywhere there is an internet connection through any device, desktop or mobile. This helps speed up your sales operation as you can respond to potential customers wherever you may be.

Microsoft Exchange exists on the cloud as well as physical servers. This offers flexibility as well as huge amounts of storage space for email users. With limits of 50GB for a mailbox, 150GB of archive space and 150MB maximum email sizes, there is no need to worry about deleting important information to save space.

The following editions of Outlook are able to run the Salesforce Outlook addin.

  • 2016
  • 2013
  • 2010

Both the 32- and 64-bit versions of these editions of Outlook will work with the Salesforce for Outlook download.

Salesforce for Outlook will also work with versions of Outlook installed using the MS Office streaming installer, Click to Run.

Operating system and browser

Salesforce for Outlook requires the following versions of Microsoft Windows to be installed in order to work correctly.

  • Microsoft Windows 10
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 7

Salesforce for Outlook requires the latest version of Microsoft Internet Explorer for optimum performance.

Server configuration

Salesforce for Outlook supports configurations that access the internet via a proxy server.

  • Automatic proxy detection
  • Manual proxy
  • NTLM authentication

As mentioned above, you cannot run Salesforce for Outlook om IMAP or POP servers.

Terminal servers are not supported, nor are Proxy Automatic Configuration (.pac) files.

Installation requirements

Salesforce for Outlook works using a separate installer program. To use this in the correct way, you must make sure you have the following tools installed on your system.

  • The latest Microsoft .net framework
  • Microsoft Visual Studio tools for office runtime
  • PIA redistributable for Microsoft Outlook

Support for single sign-on

Salesforce for Outlook does not support a separate online identity provider, such as a one password fits all service, for single sign-on.

You must use delegated authentication or SAML with My Domain.

Once you and your IT team have confirmed you have met these requirements, you are good to download the installer for Salesforce for Outlook.

Downloading Salesforce for Outlook



Here are the steps to follow to download the Outlook plugin for Salesforce.

The first part of the task is to download the Salesforce for Outlook installer program.

1 – Close down your Microsoft Outlook app.

2 – Go to your Salesforce personal settings screen and enter ‘Salesforce for Outlook’ in the Quick Find box. Select Salesforce for Outlook.

3 – Click on Download then Save File.

Your system should now download the Salesforce for Outlook installer. The next step is to install the actual app.

Installation wizard

4 – Open the installer file you downloaded. You will see the installation wizard. Click through this process.

5 – Now open your Microsoft Outlook app. Your setup wizard will open and you will see a Salesforce for Outlook icon displayed in your system tray.

6 – Choose the server that you wish to connect to. The default option should be the correct server, but if for some reason it is not, you can click Change URL and choose the correct one. This option should only apply to organizations that use custom domains.

7 – Enter your username and password.

8 – Click on Approve. This creates the connection between your Salesforce and Outlook apps. It should not require you to log in again, going forward.

Sync settings

9 – Click on Next. You now have the opportunity to review the sync settings. Your Salesforce admin should previously have set this up, so you shouldn’t have to do anything here. If you need to change the folders that you want your Outlook data to sync to, you can do that by clicking Change Folder.

10 – Click Next to move to the next screen. This is where you get to choose your methods of syncing. You have the choice of:

  • Sync all outlook items – This is all your contacts, tasks and events. If there are items you do not want to sync, you must assign them to the ‘Don’t sync with Salesforce’ Outlook category.
  • Sync only the Outlook items I select – You can choose to sync individual contacts, tasks and events. Choose the items you want to sync and assign them to the ‘Sync with Salesforce’ Outlook category.

11 – Click Next. On this screen you choose whether or not to sync your Private Items. These are your personal contacts and calendar items that probably do not to be seen by everybody in your team via Salesforce.

12 – Click Save. This is the end of the installation process. You should see a welcome message confirming the installation. If you have selected it to do so, your new Salesforce for Outlook solution will begin syncing, transferring information between Salesforce and Outlook, and vice versa.

Choosing Which Outlook Items to Sync to Salesforce

Alternatively, Salesforce has their own installation manual available as well.

Syncing information

The first time you install Salesforce for Outlook, it will perform an initial sync in accordance with the sync options you have selected. If you have opted to transfer information from Salesforce to Outlook and from Outlook to Salesforce, this is what it will do. Alternatively, you may have selected to only transfer information in one direction.

Remember that once your folders have synced, an action in one app will take place in the other one also. For example, when you sync from Outlook to Salesforce, moving a record out of a synced Outlook folder deletes the corresponding record in Salesforce. When you sync from Salesforce to Outlook, removing a record from Salesforce also removes that record in Outlook. Make sure your folders are set up correctly so you don’t lose valuable information.

Depending on the amount of information that is being transferred between Salesforce and Outlook, the initial sync could take a long time.

After that initial sync, Salesforce and Outlook will sync automatically on a regular basis, ensuring that any events, contacts or tasks will appear in both apps.

With emails, you can set Salesforce for Outlook to sync automatically. However, if the app cannot find the right contact to add it to, it will put the email in an ‘unresolved’ file. You still need to add these unresolved emails to Salesforce records manually.

Sync schedules

Salesforce for Outlook syncs your items based on your system activity. The more you use it, the more regularly it syncs information. This is to make the user experience more effective.

Every 10 minutes, your events and tasks will automatically sync. Your contacts, which you generally update less regularly, will sync automatically once an hour.

Your Salesforce for Outlook monitors your activity. If you don’t tap a key or move your mouse for 30 minutes, the frequency of automatic syncing will move to every 30 minutes. If 2 hours elapse without activity, it will change to an hourly rate. After 4 hours of inactivity, the sync frequency moves to every 4 hours in response.

Manual sync

There is also the option to sync information between Salesforce and Outlook manually. Right-click the System Tray Icon and select Sync, then Sync Now.

Excluding records from syncing

When setting up your Salesforce for Outlook, if you opted to Sync All Outlook Items when choosing your Sync methods, you may feel you want to exclude specific items from the sync process. Here is how you do it.

To stop syncing items you have marked in Outlook as Private, open your Salesforce for Outlook Settings and untick the types of information marked as Private that you do not want to automatically sync anymore.

If you have chosen to sync items in Outlook that you later decide are Private and mark them accordingly, those items will remain in Salesforce. However, the matching Salesforce items will no longer be updated if you modify the items in your Outlook app.

If you don’t want to sync specific Outlook items, irrespective of whether they’re marked as Private or not, you can move them to the category Don’t Sync with Salesforce in your Outlook settings.

Uninstalling Salesforce for Outlook

If you want to uninstall your Salesforce for Outlook app, because it is not working well for you, or if you want to try a new solution to link between your CRM and your email app, here is how you can do it.

1 – Close your Outlook app

2 – Right-click on the Salesforce for Outlook system tray icon in the bottom right-hand corner of your Windows screen.

3 – Select Exit – this will shut down Salesforce for Outlook

4 – Go to Add or Remove Programs in Windows.

5 – Find Salesforce for Outlook and remove it

Salesforce for Outlook is now removed from your system.

Using Salesforce for Outlook

Once your Salesforce for Outlook solution is downloaded, installed and synced. It’s time to get started using it.

Salesforce for Outlook System Tray icon

Once you have installed and downloaded Salesforce for Outlook, you may notice a small red icon appears in the System Tray in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. This is the Salesforce for Outlook system tray icon.

Clicking on the system tray icon gives you the ability to carry out a number of tasks without having to go into the more detailed Salesforce for Outlook settings.

Here are some of the tasks you can carry out using the system tray icon.

  • Manually sync your Salesforce and Outlook contacts, events and tasks
  • View a log of your sync records
  • Resolved items in your unresolved items list
  • Make alterations in the configuration of your Salesforce for Outlook solution
  • Change which items in Outlook sync with Salesforce
  • Change your username and password
  • Hide notifications
  • View Salesforce for Outlook errors
  • Make alterations to your sync folders
  • Consult the Salesforce for Outlook online help database

Make sure the Salesforce for Outlook system tray icon is permanently in your Windows system tray. You can drag it into your system tray if necessary.

The Salesforce for Outlook side panel

When you go into your Outlook email app after you have installed Salesforce for Outlook, you will probably notice something new on the right-hand side of your screen. That is the Salesforce for Outlook side panel.

The purpose of the side panel is to give you more control of Salesforce functions within Outlook.

The side panel is intelligent and tailored for the needs of today’s salesperson. It offers tips on how to use it at the top of the box.

When you click on an email in Outlook, the side panel sparks into life. It automatically displays the Salesforce record of the sender of the email, with the option to see the records of anyone who is CCd into the email.

You will see displayed:

  • The contact’s name, title, company, email address and phone numbers
  • Open activities with this contact, such as demos or calls
  • The option to move over to Salesforce to see this information in its Salesforce form
Salesforce for Outlook side panel
The side panel (1) email (2) contact info from CRM (3) other recipients (4) relate to objects

Search

You will also see a search icon at the top of the side panel. You can use this search panel to find records for other contacts in your Salesforce database, should you want to link them to the email you are currently viewing.

Using only the side panel, you can access all the functions of Salesforce for Outlook. Taking the email you have selected in Outlook, you can add the email to the main contact’s Salesforce record. You can also:

  • Display up to four activities related to the contacts and leads that appear in the side panel
  • Add Outlook emails and their attachments to multiple Salesforce records
  • Add Outlook events and tasks to multiple contacts
  • Find duplicate contacts or leads.
  • Create Salesforce records

We will now look in more detail at completing tasks on Salesforce for Outlook using the side panel.

How to add emails from Outlook into Salesforce records

In this tutorial we will look at how to add an email in your Outlook email to your Salesforce, using the Salesforce for Outlook side panel. It’s simple and intuitive.

1 – From your Outlook screen, select an email

2 – On your Salesforce for Outlook side panel on the right-hand side of your screen, click the Add Email icon (an envelope next to a plus sign) for the contact or account you would like to add the email to.

3 – You can add your email to multiple records should you wish.

4 – You will see a green sign at the top of your side panel confirm the email has been added and to where.

5 – If your Salesforce for Outlook is not set up to add attachments automatically in the settings, you may wish to add any attachments from your email to relevant Salesforce records. You can do this by clicking the Add Attachment icon (the paperclip and plus sign).

You can also create new emails in Outlook. If you click the icons in the same way as you would an existing email, the email will be added to the related contacts in Salesforce when you press Send.

Add email to Salesforce
Adding emails to Salesforce


Adding calendar entries to Salesforce records

You can use the Salesforce for Outlook side panel to add calendar entries. Like the adding emails process, it’s extremely simple.

1 – In your Microsoft Outlook calendar, select the event you would like to add to a Salesforce record. For example, a meeting or call with a contact.

2 – In the search panel, find the record you would like to add the event to in Salesforce.

3 – In the Salesforce for Outlook side panel on the right-hand side of your screen, click the Add Event icon (calendar and plus sign).

4 – You will see a green tick confirming the addition.

5 – Next time you check the record in Salesforce, you will see the event you have added.

Adding calendar entries to Salesforce
Adding calendar entries to Salesforce

How to create Salesforce records

You can even create new Salesforce records directly from your Salesforce for Outlook side panel. It is one of the main functionalities of Salesforce for Outlook that you can carry out tasks such as this without even having to leave your Outlook app.

For example, you have received an email from someone you have not previously dealt with and would like to set up a record of them in Salesforce. Here is how you do it.

1 – Select the email from the new person on your Outlook screen.

2 – On your Salesforce for Outlook side panel, click the plus sign at the top of the box, in the blue section.

3 – You’ll see a drop-down menu with the options – New:

  • Contact
  • Opportunity
  • Case
  • Lead

4 – Select the action you need. In this case, it is New Contact.

5 – A box will appear which you will be required to fill in:

  • Contact owner (defaults to you)
  • Phone
  • Name
  • Mobile
  • Account Name
  • Email

6 – Once you have filled in all the relevant details, click on the green tick in the top right-hand corner to save.

7 – You can now add emails, attachments and everything else to this record using Salesforce for Outlook.

Add a record to Salesforce
Add a record to Salesforce

Best practice tips

As you get to know Salesforce for Outlook, you will soon see that it is an easy system to use that brings many benefits to your sales team. However, if everyone is using it without thought for the bigger picture, it could spiral out of control. Here are some tips for maintaining a smooth-running Salesforce for Outlook app.

Partition your contacts folder

To avoid altering the settings, while still avoiding having your private Outlook contacts appearing in your Salesforce contacts when the two apps sync, create specific folders in your Outlook contacts for business and personal contacts.

Ensure that only the business contacts are set to sync with Salesforce.

Create a new Outlook configuration in your Salesforce CRM

Using configurations allow you to customize Salesforce for Outlook to suit your individual preferences and the needs of your team.

When you access My Confguration in your Salesforce for Outlook settings, found in your Salesforce personal settings, you can make changes such as:

  • Change your email settings
  • Amend your sync settings
  • Alter the direction of sync
  • Change the settings if there is a conflict between data on Salesforce and Outlook
  • Evaluate the criteria for matching data
  • Change your field mappings

Make sure you save your configuration settings. You can revert to default settings at any time by clicking on the button.

However, whether or not every user can make alterations depends on permissions. It’s advisable that admins have the ‘master key’ for Salesforce for Outlook, and only let individual users make small changes.

When you create a specific Microsoft Outlook configuration in Salesforce, you will be able to always automatically sync only the data you need to sync, nothing else.

You can give different Salesforce for Outlook users different levels of access or different levels of sync. For example, a rep may need every piece of data synced between their Salesforce and Outlook, contacts, events and tasks. However, a sales manager may only need tasks and events. Contacts may not be relevant for their day-to-day role. All this can be done by creating new configurations.

Get into good habits – adding email data to Salesforce

Spread good habits around your sales team when it comes to adding data to your Salesforce from your Outlook email accounts. It’s beneficial for all to have an up-to-date Salesforce CRM system packed with relevant information. It helps reps serve their customers better, which in turn helps them sell.

If you do not have Salesforce for Outlook set up to add emails to Salesforce records automatically, try to get your team into the routine of adding emails to Salesforce as they arrive, or as they send them. Make sure they check their unresolved file regularly and assign the emails to the right contacts.

Unresolved items

When syncing data between Salesforce and Outlook, or vice versa, the Salesforce for Outlook app looks for exact matches in the information, so it can be sure that it is moving the right data to the right places. If the app cannot automatically assign a piece of data, the information is moved to a folder called My Unresolved Items.

Individual users should check their Unresolved Items regularly and move the data (such as events or contacts) to the correct record on Salesforce. Salesforce recommends that users make it part of their daily working routine.

Salesforce for Outlook will automatically move contacts to accounts based on company name. If no company name can be found, these contacts will move to Unresolved Items, for individual users to allocate manually.

Salesforce offers recommendations to users on which records pieces of data should be assigned to. The user can accept these recommendations, or allocate the data somewhere else manually. If you want to make use of this feature, make sure Recommendations is turned on in your Salesforce for Outlook settings.

You can assign up to 50 unresolved items simultaneously.

Unresolved Images
Unresolved Items: (1) menu (2) tabs (3) relevant data (4) object to be created

Deprecation of Salesforce for Outlook

You may have heard the news that Salesforce has ended its support for its Salesforce For Outlook product. If you use Salesforce For Outlook on a regular basis, you may be wondering what it means for your workflow and how you conduct your sales operation.

In this case, Salesforce ‘ending support’ means that for new users, the Salesforce For Outlook product will not be available. Existing users of this product will still be able to use it, but there will be no new updates. If you have the product installed, but no users have logged in since Spring 2018, you will no longer be able to use it all.

Salesforce Admins can determine whether they have access to Salesforce For Outlook by going to their Outlook Configuration page in Setup. Users should go to the Salesforce for Outlook Desktop Add-On page in their personal settings. Customers who no longer have access will see an announcement telling them that Salesforce for Outlook is no longer available. 

Existing users

For existing Salesforce For Outlook users, you can still carry on using this product as usual. However, it’s not advisable to. Let me explain.

Salesforce has said it will no longer provide updates for Salesforce For Outlook. So, as well as a lack of new features being added, there will be no more security updates. Viruses and malware transmitted through email are an everyday problem for organizations. If you use unsupported software to sync between your email account and your CRM, you could be leaving yourself open to all kinds of cybercrime, even data theft.

Why is Salesforce deprecating this product?

Salesforce believes that in 2019, the limitations of the Salesforce For Outlook product are too strong. Because Salesforce for Outlook requires manual updates, is incompatible with many versions of Salesforce and lacks some custom features, Salesforce thinks it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Alternatives

You may be wondering how you can still obtain the benefits of being able to sync between Salesforce and Outlook, now Salesforce for Outlook has been deprecated.

If your organisation is new to Salesforce and you want to add a Salesforce Outlook plugin, you cannot use this native method. However, there are other options available to you.

FunnelFox provides an alternative solution to keep your CRM data up to date, by connecting directly to your email account through the cloud. This means no manual work at all is required to sync the data, while making sure no data slips through the cracks.

Looking for a reliable way to keep your Outlook and Salesforce in sync?