Working late, rushing to get a proposal ready for overnight couriers, and shrewd negotiating over the telephone to set up appointments are just a few of the tasks performed by inside sales teams that all too often go unrecognized and unrewarded. This can cause resentment between them and a company's outside reps. Not so at The VINE Co., a fast-growing maker of victim-notification systems in Louisville.

At VINE, the inside sales-support people are paid commissions as well. "Our selling cycle can run as long as nine months," says CEO Mike Davis. "The inside sales team works very hard to move the sale along. If we didn't offer these people incentives, our selling cycle could drag out much longer."

Davis reports that the insiders' commission was originally tied to the number of meetings they set up and other intermediate objectives. But that system was scrapped after the meetings they were setting up did not lead to signed contracts. "Since the objective is the same for the inside sales-support staffers as it is for the outside sales reps, we now tie the inside sales commission directly to the performance of the outside sales rep they work with," says Davis. He adds that the outside sales team also makes a conscious effort to call in and give its inside support staffers feedback on how the meetings went, so that they are motivated to keep the ball rolling. The setup is paying off. From a staff of two in 1995, the company has grown so much that it expects to employ 83 people by the end of 1998.