Salesforce Connect: The Ultimate Guide 101

By: Published: October 22, 2021

Understanding customers better are the key to business growth. To know your customers better, you must analyze their behavioral data. This will help you know what your customers like as well as what they don’t like. You can then continue to offer what your customers like and stop offering what they don’t like. Such knowledge can also help you boost your marketing efforts. Salesforce Connect is a popular way of transferring data from external data sources such as Marketing platforms and ERP systems into Salesforce.

Salesforce is a popular tool for analyzing customer-related data. You can create customized marketing advertisements to increase the number of conversions. However, in most cases, you won’t have that data ready in Salesforce, but it will be stored in external data sources. This means you will need a way to transfer the data into Salesforce. In this article, we will discuss Salesforce Connect in detail.

Table of Contents

What is Salesforce Connect?

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Salesforce Connect is a framework that helps its users to search, view and modify data that is stored in an external source. A good example is when you have data stored on-premises in an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. Instead of copying the data from the ERP to Salesforce, you can use External Objects to access the ERP data in real-time via web service callouts.

With Salesforce Connect, your Salesforce account can access data from multiple external sources. Instead of replicating information in your enterprise, it helps you get the information on request and continuously. 

Salesforce Connect can be used under any of the following circumstances:

  • When you have a lot of information that you don’t need to duplicate in your company. 
  • When you need little measures of information at any one time. 
  • When there is a need for ongoing access to the most recent information. 

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How Does Salesforce Connect Work?

Salesforce Connect works on the basic principle of external objects, which is similar to custom objects in Salesforce, the only difference is that in external objects data exists in another system. The external object established an external connection to the system where the object data is stored. Salesforce Connect uses several authentication settings to access external objects.

Salesforce Connect supports 3 types of adapters for accessing external objects. The following adapters are listed below:

  • Cross-Org: Cross-org uses Salesforce API to provide access to data in another Salesforce org. Salesforce Connect leverages the power of Lightning Platform REST API to access data from another Salesforce org using point and click tools.
  • OData: OData is a REST API for data interchange that can connect to any system supporting OData 2.0 or 4.0 protocol that helps in generating valuable insights for businesses from external data sources. Salesforce Connect uses external objects to access external data. It allows users to convert data into OData queries containing many parameters for resulting filtered outputs.
  • Apex Custom Adapter: It is built using Apex Language that uses Apex Connector Framework to load data from data sources. Salesforce Connect pulls data using the code when any specific function executes with the help of Lightning Platform.

How to Use Salesforce Connect

Salesforce Connect allows users to perform the following Data Integration tasks listed below:

  • Salesforce Connect allows users to access the data that requires a real-time connection.
  • It helps in setting up integration with large datasets that users don’t want to copy in their org.
  • It helps in integration with small datasets that users need to be present.

Salesforce Connect integrates the external orders with the complex orders for the fulfilled system. It helps you define the external objects mapped in order and order detail objects in the system. Users can view the customer history data as well as data in real-time.

What are the Benefits of Salesforce Connect?

Salesforce Connect allows users to access data from external data sources and provides seamless integrations. A few more benefits of Salesforce Connect are listed below:

  • Read/Write: Salesforce Connect allows users to create, update, read and delete records that exist in external sources in real-time. 
  • Adapters for Web API: With the help of Salesforce Connect, developers can connect with any Web API to perform seamless integrations.
  • Connectors: Salesforce Connect allows users to connect with multiple orgs across the company.

What’s the Difference Between Salesforce Connect and Lightning Connect?

Lightning Connect is a feature of Salesforce Connect that allows users to access data from external sources and compare side by side. Lighting Connect is a part of the Lightning Platform. Data Sources as SAP, Oracle, Microsoft SQL, Heroku, and other systems that help developers optimize Sales data.


  • A Salesforce Account. 

Steps to Set Up Salesforce Connect 

Let’s go through the process of setting up Salesforce Connect. 

Step 1: Installing the Package

Follow the steps given below to install Salesforce Connect:

  • Log in to Salesforce. 
  • Open this URL on your web browser.
  • Select Install for Admins Only and click the Install button.
Setting Up Salesforce Connect
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  • Click on the External Orders app. 
  • Click on the Set Customer IDs button to assign customer ID numbers to the given account records in the Developer Edition.

Step 2: Connecting to an External Data Source

To connect to a publicly accessible OData 2.0 data source follow the steps given below:

  • Search for “External Data Sources” in the “Quick Find” box and select “External Data Sources”.
  • Click New “External Data Source”. 
  • Type OrderDB as the label. The Name field will be auto-filled with the same value. 
  • Choose Salesforce Connect: OData 2.0 for type. 
  • Enter this URL
  • Leave the rest of the details at their default settings and click the Save button.

Note that since this is just a read-only database, no authentication will be required. 

Step 3: Creating External Objects

It’s possible to create or modify External Objects. To do this, follow the steps given below:

  • From setup, search for “External Data Sources” in the Quick Find box and choose “External Data Sources”. Select the OrderDB External Data Source. 
  • Click Validate and Sync. 
  • Choose both Orders and OrderDetails, then click Sync. 

Syncing will create External Objects that correspond to the tables that you have selected. However, syncing does not store data in Salesforce. It only creates mappings to external repositories or tables that contain the data. Such mappings will allow Salesforce to access and search the external data. 

Step 4: Viewing External Data

Now that you have connected the External Data Source and defined the External Objects, you can view the external data in your Salesforce account. You can do this by following these steps:

  • From setup, search for “External Data Sources” in the Quick Find box and choose “External Data Sources”. 
  • Select the OrderDB External Data Source. 
  • Scroll downwards to the External Objects and choose Orders.

The sync process will create an External Object from the schema of the external system. If you have ever used Custom Objects, you will notice that the External Objects look the same. The sync process also led to the formation of a set of custom fields in the same way that you create them for a custom object. 

The following are the major differences between Custom and External Object definitions:

  • The API names for External Objects have the suffix __x instead of __c. 
  • There is a reference between External Objects and their external data source and a table within the source. 
  • External Objects come with different standard fields. Display URL is the OData 2.0 URL that represents a record in the external database, while External ID is the primary key value for every record.

Limitations of using Salesforce Connect

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Although Salesforce Connect can help you connect to multiple data sources and pull data, it is associated with the following challenges:

  • Too costly, hence, it’s not the right option for small enterprises and startups. They charge a monthly subscription fee on a per user basis. The most economical plan goes for $65 per month per user and it imposes a limitation on the number of potential customers that you can provide per month. 
  • It has complicated configurations that are hard to set up and take up a lot of your time. In the case of poor configurations, the data will not load properly. 

Alternatives to Salesforce Connect 

In this section, let’s read about alternatives of Salesforce Connect. The Data Integration tools are the best alternatives for Salesforce Connect. A few alternatives for Salesforce Connect are listed below:

  • Hevo Data
  • Talend
  • Xplenty
  • Pentaho
  • SnapLogic


In this article, you have learned more about Salesforce Connect and how to use it to connect Salesforce to external data sources to view data. Hevo Activate provides its users with a simpler platform for integrating data for analysis. It is a No-code Data Pipeline that can help you combine data from any of the 100+ sources

You can use Hevo Activate to connect any data source and transfer data to Salesforce(Data Source Available for Free in Hevo) or to your data warehouse for analytics. It provides you with a consistent and reliable solution to managing data in real-time, ensuring that you always have analysis-ready data in your desired destination. Your job will be to focus on key business needs and perform insightful analysis using BI tools. Check out the pricing here.

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Nicholas Samuel
Freelance Technical Content Writer, Hevo Data

Skilled in freelance writing within the data industry, Nicholas is passionate about unraveling the complexities of data integration and data analysis through informative content for those delving deeper into these subjects.

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