CRM software comes with built-in features like contact management and reporting. However, many companies still prefer to use additional specialized tools for managing processes like accounting and marketing automation. CRM integrations connect your database with these third-party applications, making it more powerful and effective by streamlining tasks and eliminating the need to toggle back and forth between programs.
CRM stands for customer relationship management, software with features designed to help you organize contact records, stay on top of task-related opportunities, schedule follow-up reminders, and maintain records of past conversations (even on mobile devices) to help you close future deals. Learn more about CRM and its core functionality by visiting our article on CRM features.
How CRM Integration Works
How CRM integration works depends on the application programming interface (API). An API is a set of programming rules that tell your CRM how to interact with other software programs. However, in most cases, you can integrate your CRM with third-party applications without needing any coding skill.
This is because many of the best CRMs also offer a marketplace of third-party integration apps, which make it easy to connect the two pieces of software. For example, HubSpot and Mailchimp have a free direct integration app, which, once downloaded, can be used to automatically send new contacts to your desired Mailchimp lists as soon as the contact adds their information to your HubSpot-supported lead form.
However, downloadable apps are not the only way to integrate your CRM with other business tools. Let’s say you want your sales reps to call contacts in the CRM by merely clicking on their profile. You would need a voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) business phone system app to integrate directly with your CRM. If your CRM vendor does not have a built-in integration for calling, a developer can use an API to connect the VoIP solution as long as the CRM has an open source API (your CRM provider can provide you with more information).
The other way to integrate your CRM software with another business tool is by using workflow automation software like Zapier. However, this method is considered an indirect integration because it relies on an intermediary to work. That said, this method can help streamline tasks like creating a card on Trello every time a new contact is added to your CRM or automate workflows on Magento and other ecommerce apps.
Pro-tip: Most CRMs are designed to work on a Mac or PC. If you’re an avid Mac user, read our article about the best CRMs for Macs.
Benefits of CRM Integration
Drawbacks of CRM Integration
How CRM Integration Unifies Teams
CRM integration is essential for any business that relies on other software applications to help run their business. As CRM is usually the heart of a business, it should share information with as many business programs as possible, which is why it should be a key consideration in your CRM’s implementation. However, departments like sales, marketing, and service tend to benefit from integrations the most due to task automation and connected workflows.
The benefits these teams should expect to see by integrating their CRM with third-party software include:
- Sales: Salespeople (especially those responsible for prospecting) usually toggle between phone, email (such as Outlook), CRM, social media, and Google. CRM integrations allow prospecting, outreach, and updating deals in the pipeline to be interconnected and more efficient.
- Marketing: Integrating marketing automation software with CRM allows for a seamless hand-off of generated leads. Integrations can assign leads automatically, enabling sales to close deals more effectively.
- Service: Ticketing systems with CRM integration create a seamless experience for the customer. Check out our article on the best Zendesk CRM integrations to learn the benefits of connecting sales and service teams to optimize your customer service.
CRM Integration Costs
There is typically no cost to download an integration app from a CRM’s app exchange marketplace. However, this does not mean that there is no cost to integrate your CRM with a third-party program. This is because you often have to maintain a monthly subscription for both the CRM and the third-party business tool. In addition, many CRMs limit the number of integrations you can use in their lower-tiered plans.
Examples of Top CRM Integrations
Salesforce for Slack integration
Using Slack and Salesforce simultaneously helps you manage your pipeline more efficiently. This integration allows you to locate leads, customers, and records with ease, all directly within Slack. You can also share information and updates from Salesforce in any Slack channel.
The Salesforce app for Slack connects to all editions of Salesforce, and supports SalesCloud and Service Cloud on both the Lightning and Classic versions. The easiest way to integrate Slack and Salesforce is by using AppExchange, which is the Salesforce marketplace. Through AppExchange, you can install, create, and publish apps.
Find out more in our guide to the best CRMs that integrate with Slack.
Method:CRM for QuickBooks
Method:CRM for QuickBooks is an effective integration for ensuring leads stay out of your accounting software. It tracks each lead’s progress through the sales pipeline, ensuring that only converted customers sync with QuickBooks.
This integration also helps manage client satisfaction by giving you a 360-degree view of clients, putting contact details, activities, and sales transactions into one place for effortless organization and follow-up. It also eliminates chasing customers for payment because customers view invoices and make payments at their convenience in the built-in customer portal.
Learn about other CRMs featuring similar integrations in our guide to the best CRMs for QuickBooks integration.
Pipedrive for Trello
Once you win a deal or new customer, project management tasks are next on the list. Many companies need project management throughout different stages of the sales cycle, and while you can use Trello as a CRM, having a dedicated CRM is a better strategy. Luckily, the Pipedrive and Trello integration makes it easy to transfer information between these two low-cost and simple-to-use platforms.
This integration allows you to attach data from Pipedrive to your desired cards in Trello. You can also add rules to create new cards based on specific actions within Pipedrive automatically, as well as share deals, people, and organizations to Trello boards with one click.
Zoho CRM for Gmail & G Suite
Zoho CRM’s Gmail integration allows you to quickly manage and add leads and contacts to your CRM from your email. You can also see complete information on leads and contacts when you open emails. Furthermore, Zoho CRM also gives you a direct LinkedIn integration to connect with leads and contacts.
This integration allows you to manage your CRM from your inbox by eliminating the need to toggle back and forth between windows. Best of all, you get better a return on investment (ROI) from your CRM because you’ll save time on manually entering contact information into it. Functionality like this is one of the reasons Zoho CRM is a top pick among the best CRMs with Google integration.
HubSpot for Mailchimp
HubSpot is our top pick for CRMs that integrate with Mailchimp for its built-in integration with the popular email marketing platform. It works by automatically pushing new contacts captured using HubSpot’s lead generation and development tools to user-specified lists in Mailchimp.
While the built-in integration is convenient, it’s important to note that many sales and marketing leaders find their capabilities to be limited. For example, there’s no ability to sync new contacts and existing ones, resulting in potentially inaccurate information flowing between your marketing automation software and CRM. Fortunately, you can fill in these information gaps with a third-party syncing tool like PieSync.
Agile CRM for Facebook
Don’t overlook social media when it comes to lead generation. Agile CRM’s Facebook integration captures social data that automatically feeds into your CRM. Using a widget, you can easily find Facebook profiles of contacts and gather the necessary information with a few clicks.
Capturing social media data in your CRM provides additional insights on contacts such as their interests and demographics. These additional data points enable you to come to meetings more prepared, increasing your ability to build rapport.