The Salesforce building.
Image: Sundry Photography/Adobe Stock

Salesforce, though primarily known for its CRM capabilities, is a massive cloud-based software ecosystem that serves a variety of business functions. Whether you’re looking to build and nurture relationships with customers or develop more intelligent data analytics for your business, Salesforce offers a unified platform that can help your team manage all kinds of sales, marketing, service and operational tasks.

SEE: Data migration testing checklist: Through pre- and post-migration (TechRepublic Premium)

But for many companies that are ready to get started with Salesforce, the biggest hurdle is getting all of its most valuable data assets into the platform in a way that makes sense. Migrating data into Salesforce can be a huge task, but with the right tools and resources in place, your team can successfully migrate large batches of data into the platform.

Jump to:

How is data migrated in Salesforce?

The Salesforce logo.
Image: Salesforce

Although there are other tools and solutions for Salesforce data migration, spreadsheets are a primary vehicle through which data is migrated into and out of Salesforce. Especially for large migration batches, spreadsheets make it possible to add multiple lines of data into your target system at once.

SEE: Best practices to follow for data migration (TechRepublic)

The first step in this type of Salesforce migration is deciding which data you want to migrate into or out of Salesforce. Do you only want to migrate contact information for your customers, or do you want to migrate additional details about their buyer persona and purchasing activities? Depending on what mixture of structured and unstructured data you’re working with — as well as the properties and fields of both your current and target systems — simply getting your spreadsheet set up with the right fields will probably be the bulk of your migration work.

After your migration is complete, you’ll want to run a full-test QA, checking your record counts to make sure all data records have successfully transferred over to the new system. Check that there are no missing fields or fields that have been duplicated or otherwise altered during the process.

Best practices for migrating data in Salesforce

Understand your business case and user expectations

Too often, there is a tendency to undertake a system or data migration without first communicating with end users to understand what they need from the system. If you fail to meet with your internal users to thoroughly understand their business data use cases, you could end up migrating a lot of data that users rarely touch while missing data that is critical to their projects.

SEE: Review the top data literacy training courses (TechRepublic)

In your requirements definition sessions with end users, make sure you completely cover which data fields need to be modifiable, read-only or key fields. At the detail level of a single data field, this will ensure you are on target with what users need and that you don’t transform data in a way that makes it unusable.

Fix data quality issues

If there are questions about the integrity or quality of data you are exporting from or importing into Salesforce, take the time to clean the data first. The last thing you want to do is spread low-quality data across all of your systems, which could result in user frustration and erroneous business decisions. Although this step could delay the initial start of your Salesforce migration, it is the most effective way to avoid time-consuming redos later.

Choose a data migration tool that best fits your needs

There are many data migration tools that can be used to migrate data to and from Salesforce. Each has its pluses and minuses. For instance, some tools work incredibly well so long as you only have a limited number of data records to migrate.

SEE: Top 10 data migration tools (TechRepublic)

There are also data migration tools that can migrate vast quantities of data but may cost more or require additional training and experience to operate. Pricing and vendor support are also key factors to consider when selecting a Salesforce migration tool.

Use cases for Salesforce data migration

If you are in customer service, a CRM like Salesforce is a great tool for easily showcasing which products are selling and which are on the decline, thus helping your team to anticipate servicing needs. Additionally, you can import customer service and product returns data into Salesforce to tell sales personnel which products have high return rates and failure rates and which customers are being affected.

Salesforce makes it very easy to engage with customers and prospects directly through the platform, allowing your team to view a customer’s history with the company and what is and isn’t working for their specific buying needs.

SEE: CRM software: Choosing the right CRM for your business (TechRepublic)

If you are in product development, the visibility Salesforce provides into product-driven revenue can help you define your future product development strategy. If Salesforce CRM data also includes reports from customer service and product returns, you will be able to see which products and product components are failing so you can reform your designs.

For these and many other reasons, it’s important to be able to migrate your most important data assets into Salesforce. This makes it possible for all of your teams to consider historical data about customers and purchases when making decisions about the future direction of the business.

Salesforce data migration tools

There are a number of ETL, data integration and data migration tools on the market that can facilitate data migrations to and from Salesforce. These are some of the top Salesforce data migration tools to consider for your business:

Salesforce Data Loader

The free Salesforce Data Loader tool inserts, updates, adds and deletes data from Salesforce, and it uses an API that makes it easy to move data to Salesforce. Windows users also have a command line option for increased automation.


isyncSF is a native Salesforce app that migrates data to and from Salesforce — including to other Salesforce organization groups. The tool offers a variety of features including built-in data cleaning, migration templates for different apps and customizable sandboxes.

Jitterbit Salesforce Data Loader

Jitterbit’s Salesforce Data Loader is free and open source ETL software that works well for Salesforce migrations. It has a user-friendly GUI that facilitates the data import process not only for Salesforce but also for Oracle, SQL Server and MySQL. It uses a single connector that links Salesforce to all of your applications.

Bodhtree Midas

Bodhtree’s Midas solution is cloud-based software that enables data integration across Salesforce, SAP, MySQL databases, Oracle E-Business Suite and other ERP systems. With this tool’s focus on integrating ERP and other business applications with CRM software, Midas is a great solution for enterprise data teams that need to create visibility across complex workflows and customer lifecycles.

Read next: Top ERP software vendors (TechRepublic)

Subscribe to the Data Insider Newsletter

Learn the latest news and best practices about data science, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, data security, and more. Delivered Mondays and Thursdays

Subscribe to the Data Insider Newsletter

Learn the latest news and best practices about data science, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, data security, and more. Delivered Mondays and Thursdays