When it comes to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in business, there is no more popular solution than Salesforce.

Salesforce is effective, has endless capabilities in a wide range of areas, and connects easily to many other tools and utilities already used by businesses to interact with their customers.

However, it still has its limitations.

For this reason, some turn to an alternative way of interacting with Salesforce’s database: Workbench.

Today, I’ll break down some of the wonderful ways Workbench to level up your Salesforce skills. With its rougher, backend-style UI, Workbench can be intimidating for non-developers – but I promise it’s easy enough to learn!

Plus, once you do, you’ll never want to go back to using the basic Salesforce developer console.

To be specific, I’ll cover:

  • What Workbench actually is.
  • How to use Workbench to:
    • Perform password resets.
    • Execute SOQL queries.
    • Update many records at once.
    • Create many records at once.
    • Delete many records at once.
    • Restore previously deleted records.
    • Call Salesforce APIs using the REST Explorer
    • Deploy metadata

Ready? Let’s get straight into it!

salesforce workbench

What is Workbench?

Created by Ryan Brainard, Workbench is an open-source collection of tools that provide a simple and intuitive UI for accessing Salesforce data.

It includes advanced features that let you test, troubleshoot, secure, and edit the data in your Salesforce Org.

In short, Workbench allows for deep, developer-level interaction and data management capabilities with an intuitive interface.

These actions become far quicker and more accessible; It makes developers’ lives simpler and allows Admins without strong code experience to perform these complex actions.

The best thing about Workbench is that it’s completely free!

To get started, all you need to do is go to the Workbench login page and enter your Salesforce credentials. Then, you’re in! You’ll be taken to the main Workbench page with all of its fancy buttons and menus.

But… What do you do from there?

Let’s break down a few of the best ways you can use Workbench with Salesforce to speed up your workflow:

7+ Ways To Use Workbench In Salesforce

1. Perform a Password Reset for a User in Salesforce

Most people reading this article have probably encountered a user who’s forgotten their password, and inevitably, their security question too.

This can be a pain to fix in ordinary Salesforce.

Normally, you’d have to use the built-in Salesforce password reset that will send them an email with a temporary password, and then allow them to log in.

However, if you want to directly set a new password for a user account, this is possible through Workbench.

To do this:

  • Log in to Workbench.
  • Go to the Utilities Tab.
how to use salesforce workbench
  • Select Password Management.
  • Enter the user’s ID for which you want to reset the password
salesforce workbench examples
  • Click Change Password

Once this is done, the user should get instructions sent to their email where they can choose a new password!

(Of course, the user might also need to enter their pre-configured security questions to be able to choose a new password as well.)

2. Execute a Salesforce Object Query Language (SOQL) Query

One of the best features of Workbench is its ability to execute SOQL queries simply and easily, even if you aren’t a SOQL expert.

SOQL stands for Salesforce Object Query Language. It’s used to search for data in your Salesforce organization for specific information and “grab” it in a list. This allows you to compile certain sections of data, or find specific information quickly.

Basically, it lets you build a very specialized report that seeks specific fields and records of your choice.

Of course, this is all possible in the Salesforce developer console, but in Salesforce Workbench it’s far, far easier to understand, and is laid out in nice, neat menus.

To create an SOQL query in Workbench:

  • Log in to Workbench Salesforce.
  • Go to Queries.
  • Click SOQL Queries.
salesforce workbench for beginners
  • Choose the object you want to query (E.g. Leads)
  • Highlight the fields in the Fields section that you want to include.
  • Click on View As to choose how the results are displayed.
  • Optionally, use the Filter Results By option to filter out specific records.
salesforce workbench guide
  • Click on Query.
  • The results can now be viewed or downloaded as a CSV file.

This is a great way of quickly grabbing specific database data from your Salesforce org with as little hassle as possible.

It should be noted that Async SOQL queries are also available in Workbench.

These are functionally the same as normal SOQL queries but allow for a larger dataset since they won’t time out.

If you’re looking to sort through a huge number of entries, like all the leads generated over the last decade, you probably want to use an Async query.

3. Update Multiple Records in Bulk

Updating many records at once can be a tedious process in Salesforce that is limited to a certain number at a time, and requires you manually select each one.

In Workbench, this process is super quick and easy.

All you need to do is:

  • Prepare your CSV file with a column that contains the ID of the record, plus another column for each field you want to update.
  • Log in to Salesforce Workbench.
  • Go to Data and choose Update.
workbench salesforce
  • Select the Object Type.
  • Choose From File.
  • Map your fields, making sure you map the ID of the records you’re changing.
  • Confirm your selection.

This will comb the dataset for all matching records and update their information automatically, with no further interaction needed from you.

All types of records can be edited this way in Salesforce Workbench. This can be really useful if you need to make sweeping changes to many records at once.

4. Create Multiple Records in Bulk

In a similar way to changing many records at once, you can also mass-create records using the Workbench Salesforce system.

To do this:

  • Prepare a CSV with all the new records you wish to create, ensuring that your picklist values are correct and all required fields are included.
  • Log in to Salesforce Workbench.
  • Go to the Data tab and choose Insert.
  • Select From File.
  • Map your fields, making sure to correctly map the ID of your records.
  • Confirm your selection.

This will automatically create all of the included records without any further input from you. This is a super easy way of creating new records, whereas the ordinary method in Salesforce can be frustratingly time-consuming.

5. Delete Multiple Records in Bulk

Salesforce has a built-in method for deleting large chunks of data at once, but it’s limited to 250 records at a time.

This can be frustratingly limiting at times and requires you to repeat the process over and over to delete all required entries.

Luckily, Salesforce Workbench has a tool for exactly this purpose. To use it:

  • Make sure to back up a full report of all the records you wish to delete outside of Salesforce. This is always good practice before deleting data.
  • Create a report of all records you wish to delete. You only need the ID of each record.
  • Log in to Salesforce Workbench.
  • Go to Data and select Delete.
  • Choose From File.
  • Map the ID field.
  • Click the Delete button.

All records included in your CSV file will be automatically removed from the Salesforce database.

While this is a great way of efficiently removing many records at once, you should always be careful to double-check and back up your information before deleting it.

When removing so much information at once, it’s easy for small mistakes to end in disaster.

It’s always better to be overly safe than reckless. Your future self will thank you (I promise)!

6. Restore Previously Deleted Records

Being able to undelete Salesforce data is a really useful tool to have at your disposal.

It should be noted that this is only possible while data is held in the Recycle Bin. Automatically, Salesforce will do this for 15 days. Once this time is up, the data is gone for good.

This is why you should back up all deleted info externally unless you are absolutely sure it’s no longer needed. Realizing you’ve permanently lost crucial client data is one of the worst feelings in the world, I don’t recommend risking it.

If the data is still being held in the Recycle Bin, you can use Workbench to automatically undelete specific files using a SOQL query.

To do this:

  • Create a CSV of the records you want to undelete. You only need their ID.
  • You can use a SOQL query (as described above) to retrieve these ID’s from specific, deleted records.
  • Log in to Workbench Salesforce.
  • Go to Data and select Undelete.
  • Choose between From File.
  • Map the ID field.
  • Hit the Undelete button.

Once you do this, the records specified will be restored to the normal database.

To repeat, this is only possible up to 15 days after deletion, and cannot be relied on past this point.

7. REST Explorer

Workbench in Salesforce also allows access to the REST API through the use of the REST Explorer. The REST API is a convenient way for developers to create, read, edit, and delete (CRED) records from a database.

To access the REST Explorer, you’ll first need to do this:

  • Access Workbench and log in to your Salesforce account
  • Under the “Utilities” tab on the banner on top, click “Rest Explorer”. This will give you access to the REST API.

As mentioned, REST API allows users to perform CRUD operations. In Workbench, these operations are named POST (create), GET (read), PATCH (update), and DELETE (delete).

When you access the REST Explorer, you’ll see that the default HTTP option is GET. You also have the option to request headers through the “Headers” option right next to the HTTP formats.

By default, the headers are set to JSON, although you can switch this to XML.

To perform a create operation through POST:

  • Use the /sobjects/URI connection
  • Fill in the correct details under the Request Body fields and values
  • Once everything’s correct, click “Execute”. If the operation was successful, you should see “success: true” flashed below the Request Body.

On the other hand, reading an entry through GET relies on the correct SOQL query. Depending on your needs, you’ll use either /query or /queryAll. The former returns the records according to your search instructions, while the latter returns even the records that have already been deleted.

For editing records through PATCH:

  • Use the /sobjects/URI connection
  • Set the URI to match the entry you wish to edit/update, along with its related ID
  • Fill in the correct details under the Request Body fields and values
  • After clicking “Execute”, you should find a Raw Response that reflects a successful entry update.

Deleting records follows the same steps as editing records, except this time, you’ll use the DELETE operation instead.

8. Deploying Metadata With Salesforce Workbench

Aside from performing CRUD operations, Workbench also has the ability to retrieve from and deploy into Salesforce metadata. Workbench allows you to make changes in your configuration data and reflect these changes on Salesforce.

Before you can deploy your metadata to Salesforce, you first need to create a folder that contains the package.XML file. This folder must be located in the root directory.

Additionally, you’ll also create a sub-level folder that has the component name and contains the components. Once that’s done, zip the folder.

To deploy metadata:

  • Check the “Migration” tab on the banner running at the top of the Workbench site
  • Under this, click “Deploy
  • You’ll then be asked to choose a ZIP file that you wish to deploy
  • Below this option, there are a series of checkboxes that allow you to modify the deployment. Tick any of these depending on your needs
  • After checking that you have all the right settings for the deployment, click the “Deploy” button
  • Wait for the deployment process to finish. Note that it may take some time
  • Once done, check if the deployment was successful.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, I have only scratched the surface of what’s possible with Workbench for Salesforce.

It’s a really great program, especially considering its free price tag and open-source status. Once you get used to it, it’s really hard to go back to vanilla Salesforce tools.

For any Admins that may not have much experience with backend code: don’t be intimidated by the Workbench UI! It can be a bit intimidating, but it really isn’t hard to pick up once you get the hang of things.

Plus, it will make your job ten times easier.

For developers, I can’t recommend the web based tool enough. It makes processes that would normally involve code possible using a simple interface of dropdown menus and checkboxes.

Either way, I’m sure you’ll love Workbench.

I hope this article has helped you understand a few of the ways web based suite of tools offered by Workbench can be used to make your life easier in Salesforce!

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