Attracting seasoned salespeople was always a problem for Tony Chachere's Creole Food, an $8-million manufacturer in Opelousas, La. It wasn't just the remote location. Sales vice-president Mona Campbell realized after taking a sales-management course that she needed to improve her interviewing techniques.
First, she audited her own sales strengths. "I had to figure out my motivations before I could write interview questions that unlocked theirs," says Campbell. "It hit me that I needed to focus on what I do best -- find new business."
Her next search -- for someone to maintain accounts -- was different, and her ad, which directed replies to a bigger city's post office, attracted 160 applicants. Twelve made the cut. Campbell selected Nanette Fisher, a gifted manager of retail accounts, who'd suggested great ways to support Campbell's opening of new territories. At her previous employer, L'OrÃ‰al, Fisher had developed a "network of part-time employees who visited stores and built relationships," says Campbell. "She spelled out how she could do the same for us. She knew how to recruit reps, train them to deal with store managers, and track their progress. She had inventive incentives. Here was someone I could trust to run the show." -- Karen E. Carney* * *