Introductory Guide to CRM Integration

Integrating your CRM platform with the other software your business relies on is key to getting a 360-degree view of your customers. With integrations, your CRM can help you track your marketing campaigns, work effortlessly with your contract management software, and much more.

Many of the best CRM software platforms offer native integrations for popular business apps. But if your favorite apps aren’t natively supported, don’t worry—there are ways to create custom CRM integrations.

In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about CRM integrations and show you how to set up the integrations your business needs.

What Is CRM Integration?

CRM integrations are programmatic links that connect your CRM with other business apps so that they can share data back and forth. Integrations enable two pieces of software to work as a single unified system instead of as siloed tools.

CRM software integrations can range from simple to complex. An example of a simple integration would be generating a Slack notification every time a lead moves into the next stage of your sales pipeline. A more complex integration might involve populating fields in a contract with a contract management system based on customer data synced from your CRM.

What Are the Benefits of CRM Integration?

Integrating your CRM software with the other apps your marketing, sales, and customer service teams use has several benefits for your business.

Increased Productivity

One of the main CRM integration benefits is increased productivity. Integrations eliminate the need for employees to manually transfer data from one software program to another. Instead of spending time on repetitive tasks, employees can focus on landing more sales.

Integrations also reduce the need for employees to switch back and forth between different apps. That might not sound like a big deal, but over a year, your employees can save hours of time they would otherwise spend switching between windows.

More Accurate Data

Automating data sharing between software systems eliminates the possibility of human error. That’s a big deal. A missed follow-up can cost you a customer, while mistranscribed information in a contract can cause a deal to go sideways at the last minute

Seamless Teamwork

If your marketing, sales, and customer service teams use different software tools, it’s easy for information to become siloed. Your CRM can act as a collaborative hub for your teams, bringing all your customer data into a single location where it’s accessible to everyone.

Improved Customer Experiences

Integrations also ensure that when an employee looks at a customer’s file in your CRM, they have all of the most up-to-date data about that customer. You don’t have to worry about employees missing the latest contract revision or being out of the loop of an email thread when talking with a customer.

From the customer’s standpoint, the result is that every experience with your company is seamless. Your employees always know the customer’s current status and the next steps to take.

More Insights Into Your Business

CRM platforms offer excellent data analysis tools to help you gain insights into your business and sales process. Integrations enable you to sync even more real-time data about your business from other apps and analyze it alongside your sales data.

For example, if your phone software is integrated with your CRM, you can run analyses to determine whether time spent on the phone with leads is correlated with their conversion rate. The best CRMs for marketing and creative agencies can be integrated with your email marketing software to help you better track how your email campaigns lead to sales.

How To Add CRM Integrations

There are several ways to add CRM software integrations depending on what your CRM platform supports.

Native Integrations

Many CRMs have built-in, or native, integrations for dozens of popular business apps. For example, HubSpot, one of the best CRMs for marketing automation, has an app marketplace with more than 100 native integrations.

Native integrations are very easy to add. In most cases, you simply click on the integration and log into the software you want to connect to your CRM.

Third-party Integration Systems

A growing number of CRMs use third-party integration systems like Zapier and IFTTT to connect with other business apps. These third-party tools have thousands of ready-made integrations (Zapier has more than 6,000) so you can connect to almost any commercially available software without coding.

Setting up integrations with these third-party systems can be moderately complex. You need to first integrate your CRM with Zapier or IFTTT. Then, using these tools, you can create an automated workflow that transfers data from another app to your CRM at regular intervals.


An API (application programming interface) is a code-based interface that lets you interact directly with a piece of software. You can use it to request data from the software or to tell the software to export data.

If both your CRM and another app you want to integrate offer APIs, you can use the APIs in tandem to get the platforms to talk to one another. For example, you could write code in the target app’s API such that it automatically exports certain data to a server. Then, using your CRM’s API, you can command it to automatically import this data.

You can use APIs to connect software that can’t be integrated with your CRM natively or with a third-party tool. APIs can also be used to retrieve data from custom databases or web servers that you want to connect to your CRM. Creating your own integrations using APIs requires programming experience, so consider hiring a developer for this task.

Custom Solutions

It’s also possible to write fully custom code to integrate another platform with your CRM without using APIs. This will typically require a large development effort and may take up to several months. Fully custom integrations are often reserved for connecting an in-house or bespoke app that isn’t commercially available to your CRM.

3 Common CRM Integration Examples

Let’s take a closer look at three examples of common CRM integrations and how they can help your business.

Messaging Integration: Get Notifications about Deals in Your Pipeline

If your team uses a messaging platform like Slack or Microsoft Teams to communicate, integrating your CRM can increase productivity and prevent deals from falling through the cracks. Most major CRMs, including Hubspot, Salesforce, Freshsales, and Zoho, have native integrations available for Slack and Teams.

When you integrate your CRM to these messaging apps, your team can create a dedicated channel for each new lead as they move through your sales pipeline. Then, each time the lead moves into the next stage of your funnel, your CRM can automatically send a notification to the channel and even tag individuals who need to take action.

This ensures that everyone on your sales team is aware of a new deal’s status and can take the appropriate next steps. It also puts updates about the deal alongside your team’s messages, creating a contextual record that can be very helpful for managers who want to review how your sales team is performing.

VoIP Integration: Track Data about Customer Service Calls

Integrating your VoIP phone system with your CRM offers several benefits. Your sales team can place calls to leads from within your CRM, increasing productivity. In addition, when customer service agents receive calls, your CRM can automatically pull up data for that customer based on their phone number. This ensures your service agents can provide personalized greetings.

One of the biggest advantages to integrating your VoIP phone system and CRM is that you get data about all of your customer service calls. You can see how long agents spend on the phone, whether certain groups of customers are calling more frequently, and even collect post-call survey data automatically.

It’s easy to analyze all of this data in your CRM to ensure your customers are receiving the best possible service when they call your business.

Cloud Storage Integration: Easily Track and Share Documents with Customers

Another great way to integrate your CRM platform is to connect a cloud storage service, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or Box. Most popular CRMs offer native integrations for all of these popular storage providers.

With a cloud storage integration, you could attach files from the cloud to a customer’s profile in your CRM. This is a great way to keep track of quotes, signed contracts, and other important information about each customer.

You can also share documents with customers more easily. For example, you can instantly share a contract document that’s stored in Dropbox using your CRM. This not only reduces the number of steps required to share a file but also ensures there’s a record that you sent the document captured in your CRM.

Next Steps

Integrating your CRM with the other apps your business relies on can help you increase productivity and teamwork, reduce data errors, improve your customer experience, and get more insights into your business.

There are several easy ways to add integrations, including using native integrations provided by your CRM or by a third-party tool like Zapier or IFTTT. If you have a team of developers, you can create more complex CRM integrations using APIs or with custom code.

For more about how to use CRM integrations to boost your business, check out our full guide to CRM automation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a CRM API?
A CRM API (application programming interface) is a command-line tool that lets you interact directly with your CRM software and access your data. You can use an API to tell your CRM to import data from another software or to send data to another app. A CRM API is often used to develop custom integration with other business apps.
Can you integrate a CRM with a website?
Many CRM platforms can collect data from a website without a dedicated integration. You must place code provided by your CRM platform on the website. This code ensures that data entered into forms or data about visitors is automatically sent to your CRM.
How long does it take to implement CRM integrations?
Setting up native CRM integrations only takes a few minutes. Integrations that rely on third-party automation tools like Zapier or IFTTT may take 30-60 minutes to implement. Integrations that rely on custom code, including API integrations, can take weeks or months to establish and will likely require an experienced developer.
Written by:
Michael is a prolific business and B2B tech writer whose articles have been published on many well-known sites, including TechRadar Pro, Business Insider and Tom's Guide. Over the past six years, he has kept readers up-to-date with the latest business technology, corporate finance matters and emerging business trends. A successful small business owner and entrepreneur, Michael has his finger firmly on the pulse of B2B tech, finance and business.