Friday, May 28, 2010

Email to Salesforce for Google Apps Needs Improving

Overview

A gap exists in how Salesforce and Google Apps (specifically Gmail) communicate. I’d like to discuss potential solutions to allow my users to more efficiently relate their emails to Salesforce records.

RG_Blog_Gmail2Salesforce

Details

The company I work for has spent a fair amount of time migrating our users to Google Apps for their email, calendar, documents, etc.

We also use Salesforce.com to track our Opportunities, Accounts and Contacts, in addition to some custom apps. I am the System Admin for our Salesforce org.

Users often ask me about the most effective way to associate an email with a particular contact or Opportunity. Previously, Outlook allowed users to associate an email with specific records, but the tool was at times confusing for users and did not show many of the fields that we use for filtering.

A tight integration for Gmail is currently nonexistent. At this time, I tell my users to print their email to a PDF from Gmail and then upload it as an attachment to a record. This process is time-consuming and frustrating.

Salesforce supports associating an email to a contact (and potentially all of the open Opportunities for that contact) by using a “BCC” email address, customized for each user. However, there is currently no way to associate an email with one specific record of any type – whether an Opportunity or a custom object.

Since many users live in their inbox, it would be helpful to have the integration point start there, rather than in Salesforce. The existing ‘Send Gmail’ button is a great start, but it would be nice to be able to include it on custom objects as well.

Here are a few ideas for improving the Gmail/Salesforce connection.

  • Create an integration leveraging the Google Apps engine to allow users to choose a type of record (list of objects) and a specific record (filtered as they typed the name) to associate an email to, before they send the message or after they send the email. This could be in the form of an “Add to Salesforce” button on an email that opens a custom page with two related picklists and then redirected back to the email, whether a draft or sent email.
  • Modify the existing ‘BCC to Salesforce’ email settings to be more customizable, such as looking for a particular unique ID that can associate the email with a record in Salesforce.

What do you think? Are there other options that I haven’t thought of? Please let me know in the comments.

If you have experience with an AppExchange partner that provides a solid Gmail/Salesforce.com integration, I would love to hear about it.

There are some existing ideas on the Salesforce.com IdeaExchange (shown below) and there is likely some overlap.

Similar Ideas on the IdeaExchange

Additional Resources

DSC01593[2]_crop Want to contact Jenna Baze, the rather geeky writer of this rather geeky post?
Email:
rathergeeky@gmail.com
Twitter: @Rather_Geeky

9 comments:

  1. Switch to Microsoft Dynamics crm and this integration is out of the box ;-)

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  2. Dear Anonymous: I'm looking for flexibility, speed and accessibility. So, I guess Microsoft products are out. ;)

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  3. Jenna, Microsoft CRM Online provides this integration as the first Anonymous said and is at least if not more flexible, fast, and accessible (assuming you mean "online service"). What is it specifically that you think Salesforce gives you that Dynamics does not?

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  4. Second Anonymous:

    I haven't researched Microsoft CRM (Online or otherwise), but what has impressed me so far with Salesforce is the extendability as far as customizations go. We can develop our own code, test it out in a full sandbox, deploy it to production. It can become so much more than just a CRM. We have developed a number of custom objects for Project Management-related data that we want to track and are currently building our own internal application for company-wide use.

    So, in that sense I believe Salesforce.com is more flexible than what Microsoft can offer. But, feel free to enlighten me. As I said, I have not researched their CRM. I know that they also offer a Project Management solution, but for a company as unique as ours (we basically combine professional services + ware-house type tracking), a custom solution is really the best option.

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  5. I'm right there with you Jenna. We are getting ready to move to Google for the company email client and the lack of being able to associate GMail messages to specific standard object and custom object records really sucks! Our users have been heavily using the Outlook plugin and now it seems they are going to lose functionality unless I just get them in the habit of sending emails directly out of Salesforce from the record in question....GRRRR!

    Dave

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  6. Both the hotmail and gmail "email service" are easy to use. What I liked most about these two is that they respond quickly when there is a spam email coming.

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  7. Hi Jenna,

    We've developed a new app, Cirrus Insight, to integrate Salesforce and Gmail. It allows users to immediately view (and create) Salesforce Leads and Contacts in Gmail (as well as create Tasks and Events and manage Cases and Opportunities). We'd love to get your feedback!

    http://www.cirrusinsight.com

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  8. I am able to send email but not able to track history in lead,contact,Account.

    How can we do this?

    bhup.shivendra@gmail.com

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  9. @bhup, a little more information would be great regarding your situation. I'll send you an email.

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