Integrating your SaaS Platform with Salesforce – Everything you need to know

Every SaaS platform should be integrated with Salesforce. It’s the only way to ensure the mission-critical data your users rely on is available where and when they need it. It’s so crucial to your team’s success yet many have questions about how to seamlessly and effectively integrate platforms. As your SaaS growth experts, our in-house integrations specialist, Jason Curry, made himself available to answer the SaaS community’s toughest questions. Discover the insights unearthed during our Ask Me Anything event focusing around Integrating your SaaS Platform with Salesforce!

What are some use cases for integrating your platform with Salesforce?


There are many reasons you’ll want to integrate your platform with Salesforce. Your specific reason for doing so will be dependent on your situation and what you’re trying to accomplish. Some teams do so to bring their data into Salesforce for their users internally don’t have to use multiple platforms. Systems like Boomi, Jitterbit, and MuleSoft can be used for this type of integration. Custom API can also allow for this type of connection. Doing so makes all appropriate information available to users in one location. Another use case we see aims to bring customers into Salesforce through communities. This enables them to self-serve themselves on certain activities like upgrading their account.

Do we have to port our entire platform to Salesforce?


The simple answer is no, you do not have to copy all that information into Salesforce. You’re able to bring in specific data, or simply reference data in Salesforce. You may have use embedded forms that direct to webpages that show the appropriate tailored data. Other options involve using Salesforce Connect to directly link data from Salesforce. Doing so prevents the need to bring all your data into the platform.

Is there data I should only keep in the SaaS platform to prevent cluttering Salesforce?


Salesforce Connect allows you to keep data in your SaaS platform and reference it in Salesforce. This is helpful when considering your data usage in Salesforce. Depending on your platform and number of users, this limit will vary. You’re able to buy additional data storage but Salesforce Connect is a convenient way to avoid doing so while still accessing the necessary data.

You’ll want to keep personal information like credit cards in your SaaS platform. You may be able to shield this data with proper encryption but we recommend keeping it out of your Salesforce instance. Other information we’ve seen people keep in their SaaS platform includes detailed invoice data. They choose to only bring in information like the invoice number.

How can we automate initial license provisioning and ongoing license management?

Single Sign-On (SSO) allows you to do “just in time provisioning”. When users log in, the identity providers send relevant information like credentials, usernames, and email to Salesforce. Back end coding is then used to create that user in Salesforce. You can also pre-create users using API’s to do so on the back end or through data loaders.

What are some of the pitfalls to avoid when building a two-way integration between Salesforce and my platform?


One of the major pitfalls we see teams encounter is the amount of data they’re looking to process on a daily basis. Pushing a lot of data with a large number of users can cause issues for Salesforce. This is due to the rest API limit which limits the number of API calls it can make on a given day. You’re able to purchase a higher limit if needed but you should keep this in mind. It’s also possible to encounter collisions when implementing a real-time two-way integration. This is when data is updated in both systems at the same time.

One of the projects we would like to start up is designing a self-service portal for our clients, can you identify some of the integration points that we should be identifying?


A lot of this will be dependent on what you want the user to be able to do. You may want them to able to buy materials or open support cases. The answer to this question will impact the overall scope of the project. You can create a simple self-service portal right out of the box from Salesforce which can be created in a few days. On the other hand, you can also build a custom portal that’s branded like your website which would be a much larger project. Depending on what you want the end product to look like, the back-end processing effort will vary.

How long does it take to make an integration?


It depends on the number of features you’d like to involve. Do you have an MVP like scenario where you can limit the number of features you roll out immediately? Will this community be fully branded or just built to get the job done? A custom menu can really extend the process. A lot of projects we see range around 2-3 months but some have taken almost a year.

How far do most companies go with their integrations? Do most companies build a provisioning process for new customers?


We’ve seen this done in a number of ways. Some teams will use Salesforce as their single source of truth. A more frequent way we’ve seen it used is using Salesforce to do the provisioning in both Salesforce and in their platform.

When evaluating the options to do this, we do not recommend Salesforce Connect. Most provisioning is in Salesforce using a trigger. Using SOAP instead of REST avoids the need for any additional coding and instead sends the soap callout via outbound messaging. Another option is through the SSO provider itself which enables you to configure the requests to meet your needs.

Other considerations when you’re integrating your system? 


Some questions your team should ask include:

• Will making this data available attract more customers to your organization? Consider building an app exchange package down the line for your clients which will lead to new marketing opportunities and clients
• Is the data you contain in your platform also valuable data to your customers to use in their Salesforce org?
• How often is this feature going to be used?
• Who’s using it?
• Is the data you contain in your platform also valuable data to your customers to use in their Salesforce org?
• What percent of your customers are using it?
• How much volume of data needs to be brought in? – Bringing in tens of thousands of records is no problem but once you get into the millions of records then Salesforce can start encountering issues.

Another thing to think about is data security. If you plan to bring in personal data, you’ll need to consider Shield to properly encrypt your data. Shield provides an additional security layer on top of Salesforce.

What are some recent examples you’ve worked on that have helped customer success reduce churn and increase upsell opportunities? What did these teams have to bring into Salesforce? 


Some projects that help reduce churn include support cases and customer self-service where clients can log into a portal and work with your system. This type of project helps reduce churn the most because it gives your client the ability to interact on their terms. It also reduces the number of times they need to request support from your team. The main things these teams have needed to bring into Salesforce are the users and the invoice information.

Have you built any integrations that have offered proactive churn alerts to a customer success team? 


The Einstein technologies out there let you see trends. This platform will identify key data points that lead to churn and identify which accounts are at risk. Your team may also be aware of other trends that lead to churn that you can code into the system as well. If your team is looking to reduce customer churn, we would strongly recommend you look into Einstein Analytics and other Einstein components.

Our Director of Salesforce Development, Jason Curry, made himself available to answer integration related questions from the SaaS community. Discover his insights!

What was the coolest integration you have done recently?


We worked with a company that has a lot of the large displays that you see in times square. Our project with them involved creating a self-service portal that allows them to see the progress on each project. After the project, they’re also able to go in and see the health of those displays and get ahead of any issues that may arise. We also built them a mobile app that vendors can use to take pictures of the display during the project. This provides even more insights into the progress on projects.

As a SaaS company, what is one piece of data you would absolutely recommend we bring in from our platform into Salesforce?


User participation data is very important to bring in. This will include data on how long they log in and how long they interact with your product. Are they just logging in or are they doing a lot of the platform? A lot of this information can then be used to build patterns around how users use your system. Other information to consider bringing in is data on invoices. It’s helpful for both your internal team and clients to have visibility into this information.

Can you discuss any common mistakes that are made in integrations?


One of the bigger mistakes we see is teams thinking that their internal IT staff can do the Salesforce work for them. While it is a Java-like syntax, there are a number of considerations that need to be made in Salesforce like governor limits that don’t apply to other coding languages. Often times, non-Salesforce developers will not be aware of these considerations and run into problems. There are also a lot of design patterns that Salesforce promotes that they will not be familiar with.


This conversation only scratched the surface and there is so much more to explore when it comes to integrating with Salesforce. It was great to connect with so many SaaS professionals and provide insights into some of the issues they’re facing. For teams looking to elevate their in-house Salesforce expertise, OpFocus’ Salesforce guru David Carnes teaches a number of Virtual Salesforce Courses that have allowed internal teams to revolutionize how they use the Platform. They’re the best way for teams to prepare for the challenges 2021 will bring!

Kyle Chagnon

about the author

Kyle Chagnon

Kyle works in the marketing department here at OpFocus, developing email campaigns, blog content, and hosting virtual events. Over the years, he’s worked with numerous types of marketing content, becoming a true jack of all trades.

As a marketer, Pardot is by far his favorite part of Salesforce. The platform allows him to create compelling content and deliver it to the specific RevOps leaders that can find true value in the services OpFocus provides.