Salesforce and Outlook – Making the Connection

One of the most common questions we get as Salesforce consultants is "What is the best way to integrate Salesforce with Outlook?".  10 years ago this was an easy question to answer, as there was only 1 response - Salesforce for Outlook.  Today, however, it's a whole different story. There are a multitude of ways to integrate Outlook with Salesforce, which is great, but it can also be a bit overwhelming for new users. How do you know which option is right for you? Here's a break down of options to help you make the best choice for your business:

  • Salesforce for Outlook
    • A plug-in for Outlook that is downloaded and installed on your local PC. Your administrator must first create an Outlook Configuration inside of Salesforce to grant permissions such as which items are available for sync (Contacts, Events, and/or Tasks) and the sync direction. Once installed a side panel will appear in Outlook allowing you to add items such as emails, events, and attachments to Salesforce directly from Outlook. Salesforce for Outlook requires a Microsoft Exchange server.
  • Lightning for Outlook
    • Similar functionality as Salesforce for Outlook, but applies to users of Outlook® Web App (OWA), Outlook 2016, Outlook for Mac 2016, or Outlook 2013. Lightning for Outlook must be enabled by a System Administrator, and the Add-In enabled by the users.
  • Lightning Sync
    • Salesforce admins can set up Lightning Sync so reps can sync contacts and events between Microsoft® Exchange and Salesforce. This involves a multiple step set-up by both a Salesforce Administrator and internal IT resources. No plug-in involved or software install required, but the downside is you lose the side panel in Outlook. The sync happens automatically behind the scenes based on the settings defined.
  • Email to Salesforce
    • A quick and easy way to associate emails to related records in Salesforce based on email address. Each user is assigned a designated "Email to Salesforce" address, which is linked to their email address. When the user wants to relate an outgoing email to Salesforce, they simply bcc the Email to Salesforce address, which forwards the email to Salesforce and associates the email to the record(s) related to the corresponding Contact. Attachments come along as well. If you really want to get fancy (like we did), you can skip the manual process by setting up forwarding rules within exchange for each of your users to automatically forward their emails to their Email to Salesforce address. Keep in mind that this will send ALL emails to Salesforce, but it eliminates the need for having to bcc on select emails and is great for activity tracking purposes.
  • Salesforce Inbox
    • The only option that is not free. Inbox requires the purchase of additional licenses. The Inbox feature allows you to synchronize your Outlook calendar and events, and includes the Einstein activity capture, which will allow you to automatically log activities, events, and emails related to your Contacts - that's right, no manual intervention required.  Another nice thing about Inbox is that emails sent using it are sent from your email account and will appear in your sent items.

Click here for more details on each of the Outlook integration options above.