CRM API integration: All you need to know

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CRM API integration: All you need to knowCRM API integration: All you need to know

A CRM system or ‘Customer Relationship Management’ system is integral for business growth across all verticals. Irrespective of the function, almost everyone in an organization has data to capture, store and process to prevent missed opportunities and ensure seamless interactions and operations. Whether it is sales, marketing, human resources or operations, all teams use CRM systems in their own way. Research shows that 91% of companies with more than 11 employees use CRM software. Invariably, a software solution, regardless of the industry, needs to ensure compatibility and integration with the most popular CRM systems to ascertain easy flow of data and important information for each function. 

What are CRM APIs

From a macro view, a CRM system essentially helps businesses to capture, maintain and nurture all information about the different relationships for a company with existing and potential customers. These can be across sales, marketing, customer support, etc. A CRM API invariably helps companies to integrate CRM with other software that the companies use. Put simply, CRM API facilitates easy flow of data to and from the CRM and other software solutions to promote better decision making. A CRM API enables companies to connect their CRM with other applications and view all information on a single dashboard, without leaving their system of record. 

Types of CRM APIs

Based on the purpose they fulfill and the function they serve, CRM APIs can be divided into a few types. As businesses become more and more niche with specific requirements for each business vertical, CRM APIs have emerged which specifically cater to a particular function or role, leading to segments or categories within the CRM market. 


Primarily used to keep a track of and manage potential customers during the sales process. Focuses on capturing all conversations, requirements and other important information for relationship building and eventual conversion to a customer. 

Top sales CRM: Salesforce, SAP, Freshsales, Monday Sales, Zoho

Marketing CRM API

Focuses on seamless marketing management across campaigns, communication to ensure that all emails, other communication is sent appropriately. Helps organizations find new leads faster and nurture prospects better. Facilitates capturing and analyzing customer data and design marketing campaigns accordingly, powered by automation as well.

Top marketing CRM: Mailchimp, Hubspot, Adobe Marketo, Nutshell

Customer Support CRM API

Ensures customer success by tracking and resolving all customer requests and complaints on time. Helps address queries fast and seamlessly by presenting all information at one place along with historical conversations. Adds efficiency to customer success and aids alignment. 

Top customer support CRM: Zendesk, Salesforce Service Cloud, Zoho, Dynamics 365 for Customer Service

eCommerce CRM API

Facilitates tracking and nurturing of customers following the online sales and transaction process. Helps manage customer information, purchase behavior and other analytics data. Collects all data about customer interaction on your website/ eCommerce platform. 

Top eCommerce CRM: Pipedrive, Shopify, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Capsule 


Enables HR teams and recruiters to keep track of all data and information related to hiring. Helps capture conversations and relationships with candidates, identify and track open positions. 

Top HR CRM: DarwinBox, Workday HCM, Zoho

CRM API key concepts

To leverage CRM API to integrate data across software applications that you use or are providing, it is important to understand some of the key concepts or terminologies that are used. Each of these concepts has specific data schemas associated with them which we will discuss in the subsequent section. 

Contacts vs Leads

While many concepts will be different and unique across different CRM that you might come across, there are a few which are generally consistent. Contacts is one such concept. Essentially, Contacts refers to the unique users that you add to a CRM around which you wish to maintain the data or information. Each Contact may be associated with an Account or a company they most closely relate to.  

While Contacts is the most common concept, many CRM also have the concept of a Lead, which aren’t necessarily associated with any Account. They are generally raw data of people you add, which once qualified are converted to Contacts. 

Custom Objects and Fields

One of the key characteristics of CRM is its potential for customization. Depending on the nature of your business and function, you can add or create custom objects and fields on standard objects to collect the information in a way that makes sense for your business. 

CRM APIs data schemas

Within each of the concepts mentioned above, there are CRM API data schemas that ultimately guide the information flow and facilitate integration. While there will be a lot of data beyond this as well, here are some CRM API data schemas that can help you get started with CRM integration. 

As mentioned, the core of any CRM will be Contacts, which are primarily all users or entries you have in your CRM against which you will capture key information or data. Generally, a Contact has data in the form of name, email address, postal address, phone number, unique user ID, etc. In addition, there can be custom fields which can be used to capture additional information relevant to the business. A Contact might be linked to an Account or might be an Opportunity if it is a part of an ongoing sales conversation. 

A related concept for CRM API mentioned above is Leads. Leads are generally captured early on in the CRM sales process. They are eventually converted to Contacts when they are qualified with more information. A Lead is generally a sole entity and is not associated with any Account or Opportunity. The data schemas for Leads are similar to Contacts, including name, email address, postal address, phone number, unique user ID, etc. 

Next, we have Accounts. Accounts are primarily the companies or organizations that are a part of your CRM. Contacts are often associated with the Accounts. Normally, each Account can have multiple Contacts associated with it, considering the CRM owner might be interacting with or wants to store data of more than one person in a particular Account. The data schemas for Accounts are more macro in nature and include company name, industry, location, website, business address, number of employees, founded in, etc. 

Finally, there are Opportunities, especially in a sales CRM, which help the sales representatives to keep track of the sales funnel and facilitate a smooth conversion process. Any types of subscriptions or purchase processes are captured as Opportunities. Each Opportunity is associated with either an Account or a Contact to get access to the information about the respective stakeholder. The data schema for Opportunities focuses on the size of the deal, name of the sales representative or the person leading the deal, status of the deal, expected revenue, reference, close date, etc. 

In addition to these data schemas for different concepts, there is a data schema of notes which can be associated with all of these concepts of Accounts, Contacts, Leads, Opportunities. Essentially, notes contain updates and latest information on the status of each of the concepts and are important for capturing developments in the relationship. 

CRM API use cases

CRM API or CRM integration can help leverage the data and information captured to facilitate better business outcomes. In fact, many leading companies can use CRM API data to power their operations across:

Prospect nurturing

As the CRM API captures all critical information, it has access to details about important dates and events for each potential customer. CRM API integration with gifting and other lead nurturing platforms can help trigger incentives and other reinforcements for customers based on the information stored. For instance, CRM integration with a gifting platform can be trained to automatically send flowers or gift cards to each prospect in a particular segment for their birthday or any other event. Similarly, it can be used to acknowledge existing customers and clients by celebrating their anniversaries with the company, etc. 

Example: Xoxoday, Sendoso, Alyce, Reachdesk

Lead management

Most sales people have conversations with prospective customers across different platforms, including email, chat, social networking sites, etc. A CRM API can ensure that all conversations from these platforms are captured at one place, aligned with existing contacts or accounts or by creating new accounts and contacts as necessary. 

Example: LinkedIN, Outlook

Schedule management

CRM API integration with schedule management and calendar software or applications can help organizations seamlessly manage meetings and calendars for prospect meetings and customer interactions. CRM integration with such platforms can help people directly convert their opportunities into meetings. Furthermore, CRM API can record meetings, which can later be routed to different sales owners/ stakeholders for next action. 

Example: Calendly, Chili piper,, Doodle

Customer servicing

Your customer support teams are bound to get queries and complaints from your customers in the form of tickets and other mechanisms. If you integrate your CRM, these tickets and information can be captured against each Contact and even new Contacts can be added to specific Accounts. With CRM API all customer communication based on help desk and ticketing can be managed and streamlined for a better experience. 

Example: Freshdesk, Jira 


Since CRM is the sole aggregator of all communication, its integration with different communication channels is integral. This CRM API integration can help companies capture and store all communication and conversations in one place, which can then be used to populate and steer different conversations. At the same time, it can help keep a track of the conversation history across platforms for easier follow ups. 

Example: WhatsApp, Slack, Teams

eCommerce experiences

CRM integrations or CRM API can highly streamline eCommerce transactions and experience. Integration between CRM and eCommerce platforms can help you track purchases, orders, communication to the customers and capture all customer preferences. Their preferences can then be leveraged to create personalized campaigns, custom communication and other functionalities for a better user experience. 

Example: Shopify, BigCommerce

Legal and financial paperwork

Generally, conversations with potential customers can lead to successful sales, post which the paperwork and other formalities come into place. CRM API integration with financial and other onboarding tools can ensure that as soon as the status for any Opportunity is changed, the relevant documentation and paperwork process commences. Similarly, CRM can integrate with contract management and creation systems to facilitate the entire compliance part of a sales deal. For instance, any deal closure status change can trigger the sending of a standard contract to the customer via platforms like DocuSign to take care of the formalities and compliances. 

Example: DocuSign, signNow, HelloSign

Customer engagement

CRM API integration can help you automate a major part of your customer engagement and churn management process. You can regularly gauge the pulse of your customers by connecting your CRM with survey management and other platforms which can be triggered to send surveys to your contacts at regular intervals. Furthermore, with insights from customer health based on tickets/ complaints and queries, such integration can also help you generate propensity scores for each customer for repeat sales and upselling. 

Example: SurveyMonkey, Vitally

Marketing management

Finally, CRM API can help streamline and add efficiency to the marketing process. It can help capture new leads generated through different campaigns and even record preferences and other data to understand customer preferences. Based on this, it can understand the effectiveness of the campaigns and even assist in personalized communication for better conversion. 

Example: MailChimp, TypeForm, Facebook

CRM API integration: Top challenges

While there are several benefits of using CRM API integration based on the use cases mentioned above, creating CRM integration for your software solution can be daunting for a variety of reasons: 

First, there are a lot of CRM platforms that are under use currently by different companies. If you wish to provide CRM integration, you need to include at least the most popular ones in the market, which in itself can run into triple digits. Building integrations in-house for so many CRM systems will require a lot of engineering resources, time and investments. 

Second, CRM are very data intensive and record all information for any organization. Invariably, as the requirement varies across organizations, the nature and fields are customizable. Therefore, CRM integration requires a high level of data normalization across different fields which is a highly time consuming task. Even if the category is the same, the data model or schema can be different which makes integration all the more time consuming as data needs to be normalized for the same business logic to work across CRM systems being used. Data inconsistencies can lead to a poor experience.

Third, security and privacy is a common challenge or risk associated with CRM integration. Since the CRM is the source of very sensitive information, maintaining APIs in-house can lead to apprehensions about security and compliance. 

Get started with Unified CRM API

It is true that there are certain challenges or risks associated with CRM API integration. However, the benefits definitely outweigh the challenges. At the same time, you can simply get started with a unified CRM API to take care of all the challenges and risks, while you access the benefits. However, to make the right choice of which unified CRM API to choose, consider the following:

Auth component

The first consideration is that of the auth component which determines the design and styling of how well the unified CRM API will integrate with your application or software in terms of the look and feel. Consider choosing a unified API which offers higher flexibility in design and is more customizable. This will ensure greater similarity in experience for your customer between the integration and your application. 

For instance, Knit unified API used Javascript SDK as the auth component, facilitating greater scope for flexibility and customization in terms of design alignment with the core software. 

Integration management

Since maintenance and management is a critical part of why you might go for a unified CRM API, you should consider the integration maintenance being provided. Your unified API must be able to identify when records were synced, rerun syncs, etc. that can help identify and address integration issues in itself. With such comprehensive support, your teams might have to constantly reach out to the engineering teams of the unified CRM API provider which can often be time consuming. 

Here, Knit provides deep RCA and resolution, which essentially means that you don’t have to worry about integration maintenance and the platform will take care of everything. Your teams don’t have to go through logs to understand the problem and can focus on product enhancements and features. 


A unified CRM API can have either a polling first or a webhooks architecture, depending on how data sync takes place. A polling first architecture relies on poll databases and requires API calls to facilitate data sync along with separate infrastructure. Whereas, a webhook infrastructure facilitates automatic data sync in real time. A webhook architecture comes with less maintenance issues. 

Knit offers a webhook events driven architecture which guarantees data delivery and scalability irrespective of the amount of data being synced between the source and destination apps, which a polling first architecture used by many other unified APIs may not support. 

Data storage

A common feature among unified CRM API is the storage of your data in the provider's network. This can lead to serious security challenges, especially because any CRM that you might integrate is likely to be a repository of a lot of data for your customers. Therefore, the unified CRM API you choose should not store a copy of your data for better security. No data storage comes along with several benefits for you from a compliance standpoint and will even make it easier for you to convince your customers while making a sale. 

Since Knit has built a completely events driven architecture from the ground up, the platform doesn’t store a copy of any data that flows through the unified API. It works only with webhooks and delivers both the initial and delta syncs to your app via events. Invariably, this facilitates a high level of confidence about data security, leading to accelerated deal closures. 

Other factors like end points, authentication, pagination, rate limits, test accounts must also be considered when making a decision on which unified CRM API to choose. Be cognizant of the API format that your unified API provider offers. While there are multiple options like REST, SOAP, GraphQL, REST format is considered to be the most user friendly. This will ensure that your developers and engineering team doesn’t have to always stay on top of it and it can be managed by others as well. 

In terms of rate limits, make sure you have a clear idea of how many API calls you will be needing in a given period of time. You might face troubleshooting issues if you need more API calls that the rate limits, leading to poor experience. Similarly, test accounts to try and test API implementation prior to going level can help you build confidence about the new functionalities you are offering to your customers. 

Wrapping up: TL:DR

To conclude, it is clear that CRM systems are being used by almost all organizations that you might pitch your software or application to. If you want a ready yes, providing CRM integration is the quickest way. However, with a plethora of CRM systems in the market today as well as the need for customization, integrating each CRM system individually can be a nightmare for your engineering team. Thus, go for a unified CRM API which provides you with a single API for integration with your software. Make sure you look at the auth component, maintenance, data security, and other parameters mentioned above to make an informed choice and facilitate seamless CRM integration with your software.