Mastering Salesforce means taking advantage of every tool that can optimize your workflows and improve efficiency. Salesforce offers a few process automation tools that make it easy for you to automate repetitive tasks, such as sending notifications, collecting data, and comparing metrics.

Curious to learn more about how Salesforce automation tools work? This complete guide will help everyone in your organization.

Five critical takeaways to learn from this article:

  • Salesforce automation tools can perform a broad variety of tasks that make work more efficient and accurate.
  • Salesforce has automation tools for people with various levels of platform and coding experience.
  • Workflow Rules and Process Builder will likely appeal to users without tech backgrounds.
  • Flow Builder can also work for non-tech professionals, but knowing how to code gives you access to more features.
  • The Apex framework lets you add unique, complex instructions to your Salesforce automation tools.

Table of Contents

What Are Salesforce Automation Tools and Why Do They Matter?

The Salesforce platform comes with automation tools that can streamline business processes, including processes related to sales and marketing. Automating aspects of your marketing and sales processes offers several advantages. By automating repetitive tasks, you can expect to:

  • Reduce human error, which gives you more accurate information for making data-driven decisions.
  • Avoid data duplication mistakes when you share records via Salesforce to Salesforce integration.
  • Improve efficiency, making it possible for team members to accomplish more during their workday.
  • Streamline your marketing and sales pipelines to convert more leads.
  • Improve customer experiences by lowering response times, sending automated notifications, scheduling follow-up messaging, and anticipating needs.

You don’t need experience in machine learning, DevOps, or other technical areas to use Salesforce automation tools. Beginners can get started automating tasks by choosing the right tool and learning a few simple steps. Relying on a developer could, however, make it easier for you to create specific automations that fulfill your business needs.

Workflow Rules

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Workflow Rules contain business logic that responds to data entered into the Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM) platform.

When someone submits data, the logic reviews it to determine whether it meets the criteria for any automation. If it doesn’t, it simply saves the information without taking any action. If it matches any workflow rules automation, the data triggers an action. Salesforce then performs the action.

All of these steps take place “under the hood.” The user only needs to submit information. Everything else happens automatically without the person’s input or direction.

A Comprehensive Guide to Using Workflow Rules

Workflow Rules follow fairly simple logic, so creating a new a new Workflow only involves three primary steps that contain several smaller tasks.

Importantly, you don’t need to know any code to configure basic automation functionality within Workflow Rules.

1. Set your Workflow Rule criteria

Within App Setup, select:

  • Create
  • Workflow & Approvals
  • Workflow Rules

From within the All Workflow Rules page, click the New Rule button. You will find a drop-down list of objects you want the rule to apply. Choose the one that best represents your need and click Next.

Enter a name for the rule. It’s best to choose a name that will help other users know what the rule does. Also, you can create a description, which is recommended (but not required).

Under Rule Criteria set the criteria that will trigger your automation. In the car dealership use case, you might choose criteria about financing and a sale amount.

2. Add an automated action to your Workflow Rule

Now that you’ve created criteria for when Salesforce initiates your automation, you can add the automated action you want the platform to perform. Workflow Actions include:

  • New Email Alert
  • New Field Update
  • New Outbound Message
  • Select Existing Action

At this point, the instructions vary depending on the action you choose. For example, sending an email alert requires adding the email addresses of people you want to notify.

3. Activate the Workflow Rule

Just save your work, click Done, and activate your new Workflow Rule.

Keep in mind that the tool may look slightly different depending on the version of Salesforce you use.

Are you a visual learner? Watch this short video to start creating automations in Workflow Rules.

Process Builder

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Process Builder shows you a graphical representation of your automations as you build them, making it a useful tool for professionals without technical backgrounds. If you worry that you don’t have the skills to automate sending emails and updating records, check out Process Builder. It will likely prove that you already have the skills to create automations in Salesforce.

Process Builder can also pull data from your APIs, expanding Salesforce’s ability to interact with third-party applications. That’s a huge advantage to anyone who wants to use triggers that don’t occur directly inside Salesforce.

A Comprehensive Guide to Using Process Builder

Process Builder has a lot in common with Workflow Rules. Here are the basic steps to follow. You can find more info on the Salesforce site.

1. Define the properties of your Process

From within Setup, type “Builder” into the Quick Find box. Then, select Process Builder. From here:

  • Select New (if working with an existing Procedure, click Edit Properties).
  • Add the Fields your automation needs. Fields include Process Name, API Name, Template, and Description.
  • Click Save.

2. Configure your Process trigger

Now you need to describe the event that will trigger your automation. Click Add Trigger and configure the option that matches your needs. Triggers include:

  • Platform event: a platform event that starts the process.
  • Object: any objects, such as customer records, you want to be connected to the event.
  • Matching conditions: a unique identifier that helps the automated process find the correct records.

Once you save your configuration, you can’t change it. Double-check your work and save yourself some time!

3. Add criteria to your Process

Click Add Criteria and enter a descriptive criteria node into the canvas. The more descriptive and unique your criteria are, the easier it is to build effective business process automations.

Choose the type of condition your criteria is. Options include:

  • Conditions are met
  • Formula evaluates to true
  • No criteria – execute the actions

Choosing “Conditions are met” or “Formula evaluates to true” will prompt you to enter more information.

4. Add actions

You’ve chosen your trigger and described your process’s criteria. So, what do you want the automation to do? At this stage, you can choose from a fairly long list of actions. The options include:

  • Create a Record from a Process
  • Send a Survey Invitation from a Process
  • Launch a Flow from a Process (more on flows in the next section)
  • Update Records from a Process
  • Call Apex Code from a Process (you’ll learn about Apex near the end of this article)

Select the action that sounds most like what you want your automation to do. Then follow the prompts. It’s fairly easy when you take it one step at a time.

5. Choose how to execute actions

Here, you tell Salesforce how to execute the process’s actions. For example, you can create a flowchart that includes multiple steps. You can also tell Salesforce to perform the action and stop without doing anything else.

Flow Builder

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Salesforce Flow lets you build more complex automations than you can get from Workflow Rules and Process Builder. You don’t need a coding background to use it, but learning the basics of Apex, Salesforce’s proprietary programming language, helps.

A Comprehensive Guide to Using Flow Builder

Since Flow Builder can create more complex automations, Salesforce encourages users to plan out their flows before building them within the platform.

Let’s cover the basics before learning about the more advanced aspects of Salesforce Flow Builder.

1. Getting started

Within Flow Builder Setup, click the Quick Find box, type in “Flows,” choose Flows, and click New Flow.

2. Select your flow type

Browse the flow options available in Flow Builder and select the one that seems most appropriate for your automation. Once you choose the flow type, click Next.

3. Add elements

Here, you will add elements to your canvas. Elements determine how your flow will behave. Make sure you arrange them in the order you want them to execute.

Now, save your flow and test it to make sure the automation works as expected.

Don’t expect every flow to work perfectly on the first try. The more steps your automation involves, the easier it is to make a mistake that gives you unexpected results. The more you play with the options, the better you will get at understanding how the tool works.

Getting the Most From Flow Builder With Custom Code

It's easy enough to make a very basic automation in Salesforce Flow Builder. Eventually, you will want the automation tool to tackle more significant aspects of your workflows.

While Flow Builder is a powerful tool that can support basic functionality, you will get better results by partnering with an expert who understands its features and knows how to write custom code.

Imagine you want an event to trigger a string of automations. Propagating information to a lease application, comparing it to standards, and sending a message to the finance department isn't enough. Instead, you want to reach out to various databases via APIs to confirm the buyer's information.

That could mean adding automations for:

  • Contacting credit bureaus to check the buyer's credit score.
  • Reaching out to the buyer's employer — or the employer's payroll processor — to confirm their salary.
  • Connecting with various background research services to double-check the buyer's employment, housing, and criminal histories.

Each step requires coordinating with diverse APIs managed by different organizations. Flow Builder can accomplish these tasks automatically, but it will take a lot of time to set up the automations. In fact, someone on your team will probably need to write custom code. Unfortunately, Salesforce can't anticipate your every need.

That brings us to an important part of harnessing the true power of Salesforce automation: Apex.


Salesforce Apex isn’t really a Salesforce automation tool, but you will need it to build sophisticated automations. Apex is an object-oriented programming language that lets Salesforce developers customize the SaaS platform's functionality.

If you have experience coding in other object-oriented languages, such as Python, JavaScript, or Rub, you can probably learn Apex quickly. It’s relatively easy to use and read, so a little learning goes a long way. You can find several inexpensive — and even free — places to learn Apex.

Keep in mind, though, that Apex is a unique language. Someone with a background in coding can learn Apex fairly quickly, but that might mean studying the conventions, methods, attributes, and other factors for weeks. Even then, using the language proficiently to write complex instructions for business processes could take months or years of practice.

Let's say you want to automate multi-step business processes. In that circumstance, it makes sense to work with an IT or development team that already has experience using Apex. That way, you can enact your automations quickly and avoid the cost of training team members to learn a new language and debug their mistakes.

With help from an outside expert, you suddenly have more control over automations, the Salesforce database, third-party app integrations, and other features that make Salesforce more functional.

How Can Help

Salesforce automation tools can make your organization more efficient and accurate. However, data collection is the underlying reason that Salesforce works so well for companies. Without capturing data from customers and external sources, you can’t trigger automated business processes. makes third-party data integration easier than ever, so you can get more out of your Salesforce automation tools. has an intuitive user interface that lets everyone build data pipelines — even people without tech backgrounds. The drag-and-drop interface gives you a no-code way to extract, transform, and load data (ETL) to practically any destination. That means you can collect data from Salesforce and third-party services to enrich information and improve your automations.

Find out how can improve your Salesforce automation processes by scheduling a live demo with one of our experts or by starting a 14-day trial to check it out for yourself.