Find out what your distribution strategy will be before you start selling your product.
Tom Hursman was in a bind. His company, Spectrum MedSystems Corp., based in Pomona, Calif., sold medical devices to a potential market of 6,000 hospitals. But his sales were disappointing -- probably, Hursman says, because his independent distributors preferred selling products that had shorter sales cycles. So Hursman changed his product mix to meet his distributors' needs. He started making cheaper, disposable medical instruments, which the distributors could sell more easily. He also introduced a line of inserts for safety boots and hired a five-person in-house sales force to sell it. Spectrum's sales rose from $500,000 in 1994 to $5 million last year. Now, says Hursman, "we need to know first, before we ever develop a product, what our distribution strategy will be."