Beating a competitor to market with a new product really mattered to Bob Trussell of Tempur-Pedic, a six-year-old importer and distributor in Lexington, Ky. He wanted to get his orthopedic mattresses into 10 regional markets in six months, but he couldn't afford to get bogged down hiring a sales force. Instead, the company turned to Sales Staffers International, in Danvers, Mass., for transitional outsourcing help.

"It's not cheap, but it's a lot faster," says Trussell. He paid Sales Staffers $275 an hour to set up videoconferencing with about 75 remotely located candidates, a $12.50 base hourly rate for the reps plus a 50% to 60% surcharge that went to the agency, and a $2,000 release fee that Tempur-Pedic paid to retain certain salespeople after a 90-day period. That was still 20% less, Trussell believes, than it would have cost him to employ full-time personnel dedicated to recruiting. Although the reps were paid by the outsourcing company, Trussell set the pay rate and created the goals. When a rep wasn't working out, Sales Staffers would send a replacement, saving Trussell the hassle and costs.

Trussell was satisfied with the results. "Although it's a lot of cash up front, outsourcing the sales staffing makes sense when you're small and growing." With $30 million in 1997 revenues, Tempur-Pedic now boasts its own sales staff of 15, one of whom came from the outsourcing service.