When mounting competition threatened C.A. Short Co.'s growth, President and CEO Charles Davis figured that the fastest way to expand sales for the company, which manages recognition award programs for employers, was to bring in an army of sales reps to reach beyond its market at the time--the few states close to the company's Shelby, N.C., headquarters. But only a handful of the 30 new reps he recruited had ever sold recognition programs, so Davis knew he'd have to systematize the selling process to keep track of customers and provide support for his reps.

He developed a new selling process with a one-page Recognition Needs Analysis (RNA) as its cornerstone. The RNA's questions lead the reps through their initial contact with prospects--prompting them to ask about problems that recognition programs might address, programs already in place, and budgetary outlines. The reps then transmit the RNAs to headquarters via mail, fax, E-mail, or the company's Web site. Then the home office generates a sales proposal within five days.

"The RNA frees the salesperson to sell," says Davis. It cuts sales time in half because there's less of an administrative burden. And knowing how quickly the home office will have the proposals ready, reps can set up callback appointments during their first call.

Following the launch of the new program (and the purchases of two companies), sales grew from $1.3 million to $44 million in four years.