With only a $5,000 product to offer, CWC Software, in Braintree, Mass., can't afford to put a salesperson on the road. So the 15-year-old company - which sells a subscription-fulfillment program called QuickFill - makes strategic use of its telemarketing, dividing the responsibilities of its phone sales force so that one person is a "prospector" and one is a "closer."

The prospector is a less expensive part-timer who doesn't need detailed product knowledge or finely honed selling skills. The prospector makes the initial contact with people who respond to CWC ads. "He can make sure that prospects received the demo disk they ask for," says vice-president Bill Bean, "and encourage them to open it and try it." The prospector also answers the most commonly asked questions.

Companies on CWC's long list receive quarterly newsletters and periodic calls. When prospects start to look like buyers, their names go onto the "hot" list. The seasoned closer - an experienced salesperson with extensive product knowledge - answers specific questions and lobbies everyone at the prospect's company who must approve the purchase.

Using this two-tiered approach, CWC has steadily increased its sales by about 20% each year to $1.5 million in 1997. Some telemarketers, however, believe you should have two closers for every prospector. For now Bean is content to see the company in the black and meeting sales projections.