Can’t hire salespeople? Do this instead.

Is the labor shortage making it challenging to add to your sales team? Build a successful marketing system. In addition to driving more prospective clients to your company, a benefit can be the effective doubling of your sales team — finding or hiring a salesperson.

Your sales team should not double as your marketing department. If your sales team is out there trying to build its pipeline, it is not operating at its highest and most productive use.

The term “sales” does not necessarily refer to the traditional product-pushing you might envision. Selling can be very high-end, notably when referring to a valuable service.

For example, suppose you need a litigator to handle the violation of a nonsolicitation agreement or an accountant to calculate your business’ cost of capital. In that case, the “salesperson” is the service provider. When the service is highly specialized, it’s not unusual for the seller and the professional to be the same.

The traditional importance of a marketing campaign is to increase revenue growth. It is essential to know if your company’s marketing efforts are improving its bottom line. Your return on marketing (ROM) is used to justify the budget allocation for current and future campaign efforts.

ROM calculations help a business attribute revenue growth to the impact of a marketing initiative.

A vital part of measuring ROM is determining a baseline to measure the success of a campaign. You can use that information to determine the monetary value of the campaign effort and better identify the best mix of analog (offline) and digital (online) campaign efforts. If you find some campaigns successful and others not, you don’t need to scrap the bad ones. Once you identify the losers, you can apply lessons learned from the high-performing campaigns to increase your overall ROM.

Stagnant or declining ROM lets you know that you are either not using a medium that reaches your target audience or that your messaging is not resonating with them. You don’t want to ignore red flags that suggest you should change course.

The authors of “Freakonomics,” Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, are sometimes hired by large companies to help them think outside the box. The Steves worked with an unnamed national mattress company to assist it in rethinking its messaging and advertising placements.

For more than a decade, the mattress company’s primary advertising medium had been a weekly Sunday newspaper insert. When the Steves asked management about ceasing those ad placements and directing marketing dollars elsewhere, there was an uproar; management would not consider it. Once, a new hire almost lost his job because he failed to place those ads for about a month.

The Steves asked if missing the data affected sales, but management had never tracked that information. The Steves found no effect on sales. But, it was the reaction that was more important than the data. It is crucial to review the ROM of campaigns that have become a habit.

Every industry has its most relevant metrics. Don’t let the marketer fuzzy up the conversation with terms like website visits or impressions. You know what is essential — sales.

Marketing isn’t just about driving new leads to your website; it’s about converting them to transactions. You should require monthly, if not weekly, results from your marketing team — the number of leads, how far they went through the sales cycle, and which leads are closing, for example.

The concept of ROM isn’t dissimilar to measuring return on investment (ROI). You measure the return on marketing (or investment) relative to the cost of marketing (or investment).

The equation is: (sales growth – marketing cost)/marketing cost = ROM.

If sales grew by $100,000 and your marketing cost was $25,000, then your ROM is 300 percent ($100,000 – $25,000)/$25,000 = 300 percent.

This classic equation contains an untrue assumption — that all sales growth was attributable to a marketing campaign. For the ROM to be meaningful, you need more than a snapshot in time. You need to track sales through time and measure growth that occurs during a campaign.

Let’s say you track the sales for 12 months before you launch a marketing campaign and find that your organic growth was $30,000, then the calculation looks like ($100,000 – $30,000 – $25,000)/$25,000 = 180 percent.

More than one marketing company will tell you that a “good” ROM is 500 percent, and anything below 200 percent is considered not profitable because of the costs to produce and distribute goods and services. I take some exception to that rule of thumb because recurring revenue should be treated differently than reoccurring or transactional revenue. Also, some companies are exceptional at delivering value at a low cost to the company.

The measurement can become more precise, especially given the available tools to glean information — tools such as Google Analytics, Cyfe, Hotjar, Semrush and MSights.

A review process to track success rates will allow you to determine if you should switch campaigns, give up on or modify a floundering campaign, or hire a new marketing team.

Skillful marketing not only increases revenue, it also streamlines your pipeline of prospective clients so that your salespeople/service providers don’t lose valuable time in their day.

Marketing helps a company become more efficient because it allows its sales team to filter the pipeline. Salespeople then only talk to prospects who fit your ideal client profile, instead of talking to people they can’t help.

Suppose your sales team members close half their leads currently. This will help them close leads, since they won’t be wasting their time on unqualified leads. Instead, they will be in front of optimal prospects. Effective marketing is better than hiring additional salespeople, because it keeps costs low and spares you from training new employees.

Conventional metrics of the success of marketing efforts focus only on the increased revenue. They don’t measure the value of protecting your top team members from unproductive and disruptive meetings. Also, administrative people are spared from scheduling those meetings and taking the calls when they could be more helpful with other supportive activities. It gives all parties more purpose, their work becomes more enjoyable, and both the employees and company prosper.

If you don’t yet have a marketing campaign, start small — perhaps 2 percent of revenue. Then you can scale when you find success. You can test your way up to a profitable ROM and happier employees.

This article originally appeared in The Berkshire Eagle on December 11, 2021.