JULY 1989

How many times has it happened: you call on a customer who puts you off by asking you to return in a couple of weeks? Trouble is, in a couple of weeks you're working a territory 100 miles away.

Tony Frederick thinks he's solved that problem. Frederick, CEO of FrederickSeal, Inc., in Bedford, N.H., a marketer of industrial sealing devices, divides each of his salespeople's territories into nine geographic areas of roughly equal size. The key to Frederick's system is the sequence of visits, which makes it easy for salespeople to revisit customers who ask them to come back in a few weeks.

Every month each salesperson concentrates on three of the nine areas. During the first week they cover one area; week two, they travel to an area on the other side of their territory; week three, they return to an area adjacent to the first, completing any unfinished calls while crossing the territory; and during week four they service key accounts in all three areas. The process is repeated during the second and third months so that by the end of each quarter, the territory has been covered.