"Most dealers are set up for failure," says Ed Gannon, director of $2-million CyCare Software Publishing, in Scottsdale, Ariz. How so? Companies often expect their independent dealers to shoulder the job of creating new-product demand.

Before introducing SpectraMed, a $5,000 software program used to manage small medical practices, Gannon asked his dealers what they wanted from CyCare. "To a person they said, 'If you focus on the national campaign, we'll take care of regional activities," he relates.

The 90 dealers even agreed to give up some margin to help fund a national advertising campaign. Gannon then tested potential ads on doctors and surveyed two years' worth of magazines before selecting nine journals. The ads included an 800 number to call for a free video -- a project Gannon funded by trading in an unprofitable $10,000 trade-show booth.

All leads from the national ads were passed on to the dealers. In the first four months, they sold nearly 500 units -- giving CyCare its best year ever.

* * *