In this article, we discuss how companies can use Salesforce SQL to extend the data on Salesforce’s powerful CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform. The business intelligence possibilities are immense with this capability, specifically through an in-depth understanding of your pipelines and data flow. 

Before diving into the best ways to harness and utilize this data, we cover some preliminary technical points. Specifically, we review a few basics of the Salesforce query language (SOQL) and provide an example of this code. 

You will also learn how to use SOQL queries within an Xplenty Salesforce integration to make this process a bit easier, as well as extend the capabilities of your CRM data. Finally, we describe how Xplenty’s cloud-based ETL makes the job of polishing, processing, integrating, and preparing your data with powerful code-free integration tools smoother.

Table of Contents

  1. How Salesforce Uses SQL
  2. Intro to Salesforce Object Query Language (SOQL)
  3. Types of SOQL Queries
  4. Execution of SOQL Queries
  5. How Xplenty Assists in Salesforce SQL Processes

How Salesforce Uses SQL

First, let's go over what SQL is, and some advantages to using it with your Salesforce CRM data. SQL stands for Structured Query Language. In other words, it is a language used to communicate with a database. SQL lets you both access and manipulate data in your database, including such pervasive database solutions as Azure SQL Database and Redshift. SQL as a language has roots going back to the 1970s and is now widely utilized.

However, Salesforce uses slightly different SQL. It performs similar functions to standard SQL, but in a manner that is simpler. Salesforce calls its own query language known as SOQL. To make the best use of the data exploitation capacity in Salesforce, it is important to understand how SOQL works compared to standard SQL.

The immediate difference to note is that SOQL may only query SELECT statements. In other words, there is no equivalent for INSERT, UPDATE, or DELETE statements. This means commands you may rely upon in SQL may be absent or perform a different function in Salesforce’s SQL (SOQL). This is of particular relevance when you want to manipulate or retrieve data using queries formatted in SQL. 

Intro to Salesforce Object Query Language (SOQL)

The differences between these two languages are not always a barrier, however. That’s certainly the case when SOQL folds neatly into an SQL query that complies with data languages outside of Salesforce. SQL creates a standardized way to query data, and then use that data in third-party tools and software. This can further the power of your Salesforce data, as well as provide easy integration with other platforms. 

Working with Salesforce in this capacity allows companies to further their analysis. The precursor to business intelligence and in-depth understanding of the data is the effective transformation of that data, through effective queries at the extraction stage. 

You can begin this process by creating a SOQL query in Salesforce. Xplenty's ETL tools make this task seamless and code-free. You will need a Salesforce Developer account to use this tool to test out running SOQL queries to further discover the level of efficiency you can obtain.

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Types of SOQL Queries

There are several types of SOQL queries, including those that order data, retrieve records, and aggregate records. In these queries, two clauses are required. Those statements are the SELECT and FROM clauses. Here Salesforce data storage is a bit different than how how data is stored in a SQL database. In Salesforce, objects are used to store data. By contrast, SQL uses tables and rows to store data. 

This has immediate implications. Because SOQL uses objects, instead of the tables and rows that are in standard SQL, SOQL query types are limited. That results in different ways you need to communicate with your Salesforce database.

There are some other options in your SOQL toolkit, however. SOQL queries can be filtered using the WHERE clause. Some wildcard use is permitted, although not the use of * wildcards. When using the WHERE query statement, it is also possible to sort your data with the ASC and DESC operators.

To see how this works in practice, let’s have a look at the code. 

Execution of SOQL Queries

Let's take a look at a simple Salesforce SOQL statement that will allow us to pull a list of leads from Salesforce that are not yet closed.

SELECT Id, Email, FirstName, LastName, Company, Status

FROM Lead

WHERE Status NOT LIKE 'Closed%';

This SOQL is different from an SQL query that would accomplish the same task. In this example, the “%” is the wildcard, unlike the “*” which is normal practice in SQL. Also, SOQL uses single quotes around a term instead of double-quotes. Finally, whereas in SQL one would use the word “contains” to refine search results, SOQL uses the word “like.” 

These are notable differences for the simple fact that, when you are writing code from scratch, you need the right syntax to make these queries run properly. Coders have to remember they are working within SOQL and not SQL when developing pipelines, which means they have to adhere to a different set of best practices. 

That’s why Xplenty’s code-free platform is so simple to use for experienced programmers and novices alike. Xplenty can solve many of the complexities of using Salesforce SOQL to harness data. It was developed to simplify data flows and enhance connections between databases and warehouses. Here’s what that means for Salesforce SOQL. 

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How Xplenty Assists in Salesforce SQL Processes

Using the cloud-based ETL dashboard, Xplenty makes it easy and seamless to set up a dataflow to Salesforce using SOQL.  Our platform enables you to create a codeless connection into your Salesforce CRM data. 

To make this easy to grasp, we provide a quick three-minute video on how it’s done. Take a look at our video guide on extracting Salesforce Data and loading it into Amazon Redshift to see for yourself.

As you will note, making a new connection to Salesforce is easy. With a simple click of a button, you can authenticate with Salesforce, and begin building a visual data flow schema. Once both your connections to Salesforce and Redshift are set up, the rest is really just a matter of pointing to and clicking on the required data fields in Salesforce in order to complete your data pipeline.

From there, the data flow package is created. Identifying your source data is easy by selecting the data that the Xplenty Salesforce connector retrieves and displays on your dashboard. You can pick any number of source objects such as Lead, Account, Opportunity, and more. Our intuitive cloud ETL is great for both developers and non-developers to easily create data flows and integrations between apps and big-data analytics cloud services.

Finally, Xplenty makes it easy to transform your data and prepare it for integration or further processing. For example, you could concatenate the first and last name fields to become a full name field. There are endless possibilities of how you can use your Salesforce data, even if you are only becoming accustomed to the distinction between SOQL and SQL. With Xplenty, those differences are non-consequential. 

Try it out for yourself by contacting us to schedule a demo or pilot of Xplenty.