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In this article, we’ve broken down the exact differences, strengths, and weaknesses of these common integration tools to help you decide.
We’ve also included our own opinion for the best third-party tool for integrating Outlook with Salesforce (if you’re looking for a faster, easier, and more secure solution).
When Salesforce for Outlook launched several years ago, it promised to sync your contacts, events, and tasks from your email to your Salesforce account.
While this application worked decently a few years ago, it has now become outdated and is no longer an effective solution for integrating Outlook with Salesforce.
Unfortunately, Salesforce discontinued this application back in 2019.
Salesforce will not be supporting the application at all going forward, which means if you run into any issues using the application, Salesforce will offer no assistance of any kind.
Even if you can install and run Salesforce for Outlook, it will only work on Windows computers running older versions of Outlook. Needless to say, it won’t run on Macs.
Salesforce for Outlook does not automatically sync data.
The application requires users to manually click the “Add to Salesforce” button in order to sync their customer and sales activity data between Outlook and Salesforce.
Salesforce for Outlook also doesn’t work on mobile devices or tablets.
Salesforce recommends using a new product, Lightning for Outlook, instead. However, users have found many critical flaws with this application.
If things weren’t confusing enough already, Lighting for Outlook (LFO) was recently renamed “Salesforce Outlook Integration” (which doesn’t help… but let’s call it that here on out).
As LFO, Salesforce Outlook Integration was built as a new, up-to-date replacement to Salesforce for Outlook.
While similar in functionality, it came with better performance and new, advanced features – and promised to automatically sync contacts, events, and tasks between Outlook and Salesforce.
It also promised to provide access to Salesforce directly from Outlook, with “no more jumping between programs, no extra clicks, no hassle”.
Because it’s built with newer technology, Salesforce Outlook Integration requires at least Outlook 2013 for Windows. As it also works with Exchange Online, Salesforce Outlook Integration can be accessed using a Microsoft 365 account. It works on Macs too – on Outlook 2016 or later.
Unfortunately, users confirm that the Salesforce Outlook Integration app is slow and buggy. Some users report a loss of data and up to 90 seconds of computer lag when the software is syncing. Reps get frustrated as they work and their production slows down.
A quick look through the AppExchange listing for Salesforce Outlook Integration shows what users really think about the app:
“Salesforce Outlook Integration lags while processing”
“It takes MANY clicks to simply log an email. Lots of lag while it thinks about each thing I ask it to do.”
– Cathy Leonard
“Salesforce Outlook Integration messes up data”
“I have over 10K duplicate contacts created thanks to starting a 2 way sync. It will create duplicates even if the duplicate rules are active.”
– Aditya Kamdi
“Salesforce Outlook Integration loads too slowly”
“Make the loading time faster or don’t require an app refresh every time you move from one email to another.”
– Andrew Jack
“Salesforce Outlook Integration is disappointing”
“Relating records is clunky and inefficient. Task and contact syncing are a must in an add-in like this. Pretty disappointing.”
– Edwin Jeffords
There are also critical security risks with the Salesforce Outlook Integration, as it requires global impersonation – giving admins unlimited access to every single mailbox on your company’s Exchange mail server.
Many organizations still use Exchange 2010 to host their mail and calendars.
Unfortunately, the Salesforce Outlook Integration does not support Exchange 2010 at all, so users are forced to upgrade if they want to use it.
Worst of all, Salesforce Outlook Integration doesn’t sync all the data that you need (such as opportunities, contacts, calls, and meetings) to generate complete, meaningful reports that managers can use.
Fortunately, there is a third-party option that does all of these things seamlessly, automatically, securely, and reliably.
Cirrus Insight is a tool that works in the background to automatically record and sync sales activity data from Outlook to Salesforce.
This allows your team to focus on more important activities, like attracting, delighting, and retaining your customers.
Your sales reps can carry out their work like they normally do, sending emails, booking appointments, making phone calls, etc. But as they work, Cirrus Insight automatically tracks all of their sales activities – without them having to think about it.
We're often asked:
“What’s the main difference between Cirrus Insight and Salesforce Outlook Integration?”
Our answer is simple:
Cirrus Insight powers data-driven sales.
Salesforce Outlook Integration doesn’t. Here are the core differences:
Unfortunately, the Salesforce Outlook Integration app is slow to load and users report frequent crashes.
But don't just take it from us, check out this review:
It is certainly not the “lightning-fast” experience that Salesforce promises. In addition, activities and custom objects only work after deep customization.
In comparison, Cirrus Insight works in the background collecting meeting notes, contacts, opportunities, and quotes – quickly, automatically, and reliably.
Syncing is instantaneous. You open an email, Cirrus Insight gets the data and syncs it to Salesforce. It’s so fast it’s practically real-time!
Cirrus Insight syncs at the server level. It works in the background and doesn’t drain your local resources. Reps will never suffer computer crashes, system lag, or data loss.
Cirrus Insight is fast to load so you won’t feel any drag as you work. It works quickly and seamlessly from the moment you install it – without deep customization.
Free time and pipeline data enrichment will enable your reps to focus on closing bigger deals, faster.
With the Salesforce Outlook Integration app, in order to sync records and sales activity data, you need an additional product: Lightning Sync, which is slow. The first sync takes 72 hours or more.
Each additional sync can take several minutes and is prone to creating duplicates, or losing as much as 40% of your sales activity data.
Cirrus Insight, on the other hand, automatically syncs every interaction with clients, including email, calendar, phone calls, tasks, events, opportunities, and quotes with related object enrichment.
It frees up reps’ time and feeds their pipeline full of reliable data, without errors or duplicates.
Reliable activity data in Salesforce reduces guesswork and generates reports you can trust.
The Salesforce Outlook Integration app requires access to your company’s Exchange server credentials in the cloud. This kind of direct server access creates vulnerabilities in your network.
Cirrus Insight provides enterprise-level security.
Many of our customers choose Cirrus Insight as the most secure AppExchange partner. Connection paths of data are completely configurable and secured with SSO, SAML, or 0Auth.
Cirrus Insight processes the least amount of information required to complete the job.
Creating Salesforce records from the Salesforce Outlook Integration sidebar requires extensive customization. This means that reps still need to log in to Salesforce to access their work.
Cirrus Insight delivers 100% of what your reps can do in Salesforce right from their inbox – reducing their time away from sales. It increases Salesforce adoption by 40% because it keeps reps out of Salesforce.
You can create and edit all Salesforce objects right from your inbox, including tasks, opportunities, and custom objects – all permission-based.