Before you shell out a lot for the latest sales technology, listen to what Kimberly Kapner in the London office of MacTemps, based in Cambridge, Mass., learned when she produced the personnel agency's first CD-ROM to distribute to customers and to use at trade shows. "It's no picnic," says Kapner. Here are some essential questions she suggests you ask yourself:

Multimedia is cool, but is it for us? "For our clients a CD-ROM was a natural medium to work with, because we place people mainly in industries that are increasingly technology-based, such as advertising and publishing. The CD-ROM was really effective because it allowed our clients to see candidates ' work on-screen before agreeing to an interview. It also identified us as technological and creative leaders because it was the first CD-ROM in our industry."

Do I know all the costs involved? "We got a good rate, but there were still unanticipated costs, like courier and taxi fees, that were not included in the design fee. Part of the problem is that with a new technology, it's easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the possibilities. For instance, once I saw how to incorporate video into the CD-ROM, I came up with a way to use it in our client-profile section. That meant a lot more visits and more files being sent back and forth via courier."

Do I have the time? "I thought I would be able to skip in and share my vision with the designers and in a few weeks have the product of my dreams. That might be fine for print media, but with multimedia the end product is much harder to visualize, which meant that I needed to see the work at more stages than I would have with a printed piece. And with every viewing, the work in progress gives you ideas about how to change it. For two to three months this was an active project for me."

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Timing Is Everything
If you're going to commit time and resources to creating a new sales tool, you might as well show it off. That's what MacTemp's Kimberly Kapner did with her CD-ROM. She made a deal with Creative Technology (a British industry magazine) to feature the CD-ROM on a cover. With some prodding from Kapner, the CD-ROM appeared in the November issue , coinciding with the annual Apple Expo in the United Kingdom, at which both Creative Technology and MacTemps had a booth. That meant that more CD-ROMs were given away at the trade show. "I figured it would be a great way to maximize trade-show coverage," says Kapner. The magazine also included a story about MacTemps and two postcard-insert advertisements. Although there has been a 30% increase in the number of calls requesting information since the CD-ROM was distributed, it's still too early to measure how much new business the release will produce. "Still," says Kapner, "we've had more coverage from this CD-ROM than from anything we've done since we've been here."