Customer relationship management (CRMs) are built to help businesses manage relationships with all of their customers from the top of the sales funnel through to ongoing client engagement.
Over the years there have been a number of APIs developed specifically for CRMs that, if implemented correctly, can increase efficiency and allow for a more seamless workflow.
In this article I am going to explore what you should consider when looking at CRM APIs, what the benefits are, potential alternatives and what experience we have had at WorkingMouse.
Why do you need to use an API for a CRM?
An API allows you to specify how your CRM can and will interact with other software programs, like your accounting software, job management and HR all the way through to Calendars, Emails, Social media and Data collection.
What are the benefits of doing so?
Using APIs will allow you to reduce data entry, and close the gaps in lines of communication, for example your finance team and human resources team can have access to employee salary data, and their systems could communicate seamlessly if an API was integrated. Or your finance department could have direct access to what products/services have been provided to a certain client.
Secondary to that, there is significant upside in leveraging existing CRM APIs for your custom application. In doing so, you’re not having to re-build functionality that already exists in third party applications. This may also benefit user uptake. Users are able to continue using their CRM of choice where it makes sense.
What are the best available?
The best CRM APIs available are of course, the CRM’s own APIs. For example, the Salesforce API has a wealth of developer resources on how to use it and what is capable with it. However, if we look outside of the CRM’s own APIs, at things that most businesses would want to use in addition to their CRM, we can see that APIs from Finance systems (Xero, Stripe), HR/Recruitment Systems (Jobadder, Bamboo HR) and Project management systems (Asana) are the best to link in with your CRM.
Using an API vs non-API alternatives (like Zapier)
Sometimes it is not the best decision to incorporate an API into your CRM, due to the development time and resources required. Some of the actions that APIs are used for can be completed with a workflow automation tool, like Zapier. A workflow automation tool is relatively easy to customize through the platform, and with most CRMs there has already been relevant integrations built.
What have we had experience with?
- Outlook Mail: Outlook's API is built using REST Conventions and is used to retrieve messages in Office 365 and Outlook.com directly into your CRM.
- Lusha: Lusha is a sales tool used to gather information on potential customers and potentially shorten the sales discovery timeline. Lusha has a REST API that allows for integration directly into your CRM.
- HubSpot: HubSpot is a marketing automation and CRM platform, its APIs are contently being improved and developed. All of HubSpot's APIs are built using REST conventions.
- Google Ads: Google AdWords API allows for different CRMs to communicate directly with the AdWords platform, potentially improving on your reporting efficiency. The AdWords API relies on SOAP and WSDL technologies to offer its services.
- Pipedrive: Pipedrive is a CRM that excels when it comes to status based deals. It doesn’t have the email automation capabilities of other CRMs but is great for getting an overview of where deals are based in your pipeline. The API has allowed us to create and move deals based on user activity on a clients custom application. This configuration creates transparency between an application and the pipeline.
- Drip: Drip is primarily a marketing automation platform that has a great email builder. However it can and is used as a CRM. It’s been implemented in the past to create new contacts in the CRM and assign them a tag based on their activity on the custom application. This can then trigger a workflow which sends marketing emails to the user.
What is most important when considering APIs is what benefits it will bring to your team, and how much work is required to implement it into your CRM. Ensure you take the time to consider the impact of every API you are integrating and what how you are going to determine their success.
The best API for your CRM is an API that will improve your team's efficiency and help you deliver the best service to your clients.
If you are considering a build for your next project, reach out to us here for a free consultation.