How to Run SOQL Query in Salesforce 

Last Modified: February 5, 2024 - 8 min read

Hannah Recker

At the core of Salesforce’s data retrieval capabilities lies SOQL (Salesforce Object Query Language), a powerful query language tailored for extracting meaningful insights from Salesforce databases. 

With this era’s data-driven landscape, querying Salesforce databases is more than a technical task. It’s a strategic need for a business to make informed decisions and enhance business operations. 

In this article, we will delve into a step-by-step guide on how to run SOQL queries in Salesforce and how you can use GPT to write your SOQL queries for you.

So, let’s begin!

Understanding SOQL Queries in Salesforce 

Salesforce Object Query Language (SOQL) is a specialized query language for interacting with Salesforce databases. 

As Salesforce revolves around a highly customizable object-oriented architecture, SOQL is the cornerstone of data retrieval in Salesforce. It forms a crucial link between users and the vast information stored in objects. 

One of the roles of SOQL is to support how to query the Salesforce database. These queries are constructed to filter, sort, and retrieve data based on specific criteria, enabling users to obtain targeted and relevant information.

SOQL vs. SQL – Comparison and Difference 

As a familiar reference point, comparing SOQL and Structured Query Language (SQL) is valuable. While both languages share similarities in syntax and purpose, they cater to distinct environments and architectures.

  1. Object-Oriented vs. Relational – SOQL is tailored for Salesforce’s object-oriented architecture, where data is organized into objects, and relationships between them are paramount. In contrast, SQL is designed for relational databases, emphasizing tables and the relationships between rows.
  1. Field-Based Queries – SOQL queries revolve around fields within objects, allowing users to extract specific attributes of records. SQL, on the other hand, focuses on querying tables and can retrieve entire rows of data, providing a broader scope.
  1. Limited Aggregation Functions – SOQL has a more limited set of aggregation functions than SQL. While both languages support common functions like COUNT and SUM, SOQL’s capabilities are optimized for the specific needs of Salesforce data.
  1. Security and Schema Considerations – SOQL integrates seamlessly with Salesforce’s security model and considers the object schema, ensuring that queries align with the platform’s governance and permissions. SQL queries may need additional considerations for security and schema adherence.

Preparing How to Run SOQL Query in Salesforce

Before getting started on how to run SOQL queries in Salesforce, it’s essential to lay the groundwork for a seamless experience. So, these are the prerequisites to create a solid foundation when you venture into the realm of SOQL.

  1. Basic Knowledge of Salesforce

To navigate and extract valuable insights from Salesforce databases, users should have a foundational understanding of the Salesforce platform. 

This includes familiarity with its interface, key functionalities, and the underlying principles of customer relationship management.

  1. Understanding Database Structure

SOQL operates within the context of Salesforce’s object-oriented architecture. 

Users should grasp the concept of objects, which serve as containers for specific data types, and the relationships between these objects. A basic understanding of how data is organized within Salesforce is crucial for crafting effective SOQL queries.

  1. Salesforce Interface and Developer Console

The Salesforce user interface is the primary tool for interacting with the platform. 

Users can access and run SOQL queries directly through the Salesforce interface, making it an accessible option for those who prefer a visual and intuitive approach. 

However, it still requires users to have some technical inclination to handle complex queries through the Developer Console. The Developer Console provides a dedicated environment for developers and administrators to write, test, and execute SOQL queries. 

The Developer Console offers additional features like debugging and performance monitoring, catering to users seeking a more hands-on and code-centric approach.

Since this article aims to simplify things, we will explain how to query Salesforce using its user-friendly and simple interface in the Developer Console!

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Query Salesforce Database with SOQL

Now that we’ve laid the foundation by understanding the basics of SOQL and ensuring the necessary prerequisites, let’s begin on our step-by-step journey on how to query the Salesforce database:

Step 1: Access Salesforce Developer Console

Log in to your Salesforce account.

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Click on the “Gear Icon” next to the notification bell icon on your navigation bar.

logging into Salesforce and accessing the Developer Console

Locate and click on the “Developer Console” tab from which you want to retrieve data. 

Logging into Salesforce and accessing the Developer Console

Step 2: Identify the Object and Fields

Once on the Developer Console, navigate to “Files” and Click on the “Open Resources” option. Or Press CTRL+ SHIFT+ 0

Locating the Developer Console in Salesforce

A window for Open Resources will pop up. 

Identify the specific object you want to query (e.g., Leads, Contacts, Accounts, Opportunities, and more) from the list provided.

Navigating to Open Resources in Salesforce Developer Console

Step 3: Select Relevant Fields 

For your selected object, in this example, “Opportunities”, a list of fields will appear that you can include in your SOQL query.

Selecting an object for SOQL query in Salesforce

Take note of the fields within that object from which you want to retrieve data. 

You can select as many as you need by clicking on each field. The selected fields are highlighted, so ensure you don’t miss or add any extra.

Choosing relevant fields for SOQL query in Salesforce

Step 4: Construct the SOQL Query

Once you’re done selecting your specific fields, navigate to the bottom of your fields frame and Click “Query.”

Building the SOQL query in Salesforce Developer Console

In the “Query Editor” tab below, your new SOQL Query based on the selected object and fields will be immediately generated.

Generated SOQL query in the Query Editor of Salesforce

Step 5: Review and Execute 

Examine the results in the Query Editor; any errors in your query will be flagged automatically and appear in the section below your editor. Customize the code as needed and Click “Execute” at the bottom of your screen.

Reviewing the SOQL query in Salesforce"

The Developer Console will show you the results based on your query as a list:

Executing and viewing results of the SOQL query in Salesforce

That’s all! You’ve successfully executed a SOQL query in Salesforce, retrieving specific data based on your criteria. 

3 Tips and Best Practices on How to Query Salesforce

Here are three tips to enhance your SOQL querying experience while avoiding common pitfalls:

  1. Selective Querying

Be selective in your queries by specifying only the fields you need. This reduces the query’s impact on performance and speeds up data retrieval. Querying unnecessary fields can lead to slower performance and increased data transfer, impacting user experience and system resources.

  1. Avoid Hard-Coding IDs

Refrain from hard-coding record IDs in your queries. Instead, use dynamic references or variables to ensure adaptability and maintainability. Hard-coded IDs can cause issues when records are moved or modified, leading to query failures and maintenance challenges.

  1. Limit the Use of Subqueries

Minimize the use of subqueries unless necessary. Subqueries can impact performance, so use them judiciously. Overusing subqueries may increase processing time and resource consumption, affecting overall system performance.

Use Cases and Importance of Running SOQL Queries

If you’re new to SOQL, here are some key use cases illustrating the importance of running SOQL queries in various facets of business operations:

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

SOQL queries empower businesses to understand customer engagement patterns, leading to improved customer satisfaction and relationship management. You can extract data on customer interactions, such as communication history and service requests, from the Contact and Case objects.

  1. Sales Analytics

It provides actionable insights for sales teams, aiding in strategic planning, forecasting, and optimizing sales strategies. You can do this by querying Opportunities and Products to analyze sales trends, track deal progress, and identify top-performing products.

  1. Marketing Campaign Effectiveness

SOQL enables marketers to evaluate the impact of campaigns, refine targeting strategies, and allocate resources effectively. You can extract data from Campaigns and Leads to measure the success of marketing campaigns, including lead conversions and campaign engagement metrics.

  1. Performance Monitoring

SOQL queries play a crucial role in maintaining the health of the Salesforce environment, allowing administrators to address performance-related concerns proactively. You can run queries on user activity and login history to monitor system usage, identify potential issues, and ensure optimal performance.

  1. Data Governance and Compliance

SOQL facilitates auditing and monitoring of data, helping organizations uphold data integrity, security, and regulatory compliance. You can query data from custom objects to ensure compliance with data governance policies and regulatory requirements.

Leveraging GPT for SOQL Queries with Coefficient

With Coefficient, rated 5-stars on AppExchange, you can use GPT to write and run your SOQL queries. Once you’re satisfied with your SOQL query provided from GPT, it takes one click to pull your Salesforce data directly into Google Sheets or Excel. You can even keep your query on a refresh schedule if you’d like. See how it works in the video below.

This integration simplifies the process of data analysis and reporting, offering a user-friendly interface that caters to both technical and non-technical users.

Whether crafting intricate reports, writing SOQL queries, conducting in-depth analysis, or sharing insights across teams, Coefficient enhances the utility of SOQL queries by providing a comprehensive solution for harnessing the full potential of Salesforce data.

Ready to transform the way you interact with Salesforce data? Get started with Coefficient.

Final Takeaway

This comprehensive guide has equipped readers with the knowledge needed to navigate the intricacies of SOQL, emphasizing its role in driving data-driven decisions. 

The integration of Coefficient amplifies the impact of SOQL, providing a bridge between Salesforce data and actionable insights. As businesses evolve in the digital era, the ability to harness the power of SOQL becomes a cornerstone for success.

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Hannah Recker Growth Marketer
Hannah Recker was a data-driven growth marketer before partying in the data became a thing. In her 12 years experience, she's become fascinated with the way data enablement amongst teams can truly make or break a business. This fascination drove her to taking a deep dive into the data industry over the past 4 years in her work at StreamSets and Coefficient.
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