You’ve heard of street smarts and book smarts. But is your company sales smart? If you’re like most organizations, the answer is probably “not really.” Sales teams face two perennial problems. No matter their industries or how large their companies, most lack a properly implemented training regimen and the resources to do their jobs efficiently.

You can have insanely talented salespeople, and they’ll still make the same mistakes over and over again if they don’t have proper training. When people don’t feel they’re supported because they’re constantly wanting for resources, they eventually burn out. But many companies fail to address these needs within their sales department, and they end up losing their top representatives because of it.

Becoming Sales Intelligent

Modern technology didn’t create a training or resource crisis, but it did change the types of tools and training that social selling requires. Rapidly shifting sales techniques demand a proactive attitude toward salesforce development. Productivity tools have enabled salespeople to work smarter and spend more time interfacing with clients than managing mundane tasks. The flip side of this is that prospects and customers expect rapid results and constant access. Sales teams must be prepared for the 24/7 nature of their jobs.

This is where sales intelligence comes in. Sales and marketing overlap more than ever before. Organizations that rely heavily on cold-calling for lead generation need to know whom to target and how to reach them with actionable messages.

A few years ago, they would have used simple Google searches and corporate websites to piece together this information. Now, a multitude of services help businesses identify prospects, collect contact information, load the data into their CRMs, and schedule drip campaigns. In this sense, many sales reps are operating their own mini-marketing departments.

Sales intelligence encompasses this entire data-gathering process. It includes all the contextual information you need about your sales contacts: purchase histories, industries, response rates, and other metrics that help you tailor your strategies to each target. The better you know your audience, the more effective your campaigns will be. That’s Sales 101. But sales intelligence platforms enable you to put that concept to work by building more detailed profiles than were possible in the past.

Still, the concept of sales intelligence is relatively new. Sales managers and executives are understandably wary of investing in tools and strategies if they’re not clear on how the business will benefit. Sales intelligence tools improve efficiency and can increase conversions and profits. But they’re effective only if you approach them correctly. Here’s how to build sales intelligence within your company:

1. Emphasize productivity.

The greatest virtue of sales intelligence tools is that they save so much time. You most likely hired your reps on the basis of their sales acumen, not their stellar research skills. Rather than having them spend hours scouring the internet for details about prospects, intelligence tools get them to the right people and companies faster. Cultivate a passion for productivity among your sales teammates. They’ll be thrilled to try out new platforms that provide them with more time to do what they do best: sell.

2. Evaluate potential ROI.

The big questions with new tools are always: How much will this cost? And what’s the ROI? Analyze the amount of time and resources that can be saved using different platforms. Then, compare that with the cost of purchasing, installing, and maintaining the new systems. That will tell you whether sales intelligence is worth the investment. Usually, the answer is yes.

3. Investigate key features.

Sales managers often tell me they’re reluctant to adopt sales intelligence platforms because the tools aren’t intuitive. They may have watched a demo video or presentation and come away feeling more confused than they were to begin with. If you’ve experienced this, know that the fault probably lies more with the sales rep who led the demo than with the product itself. Have patience and seek out the features that are relevant to your organization.

Sales intelligence is critical to your company’s growth. What obstacles are preventing you from embracing these tools, and what would inspire more confidence in them?