We once consulted with a company that had developed a new software application for revenue-cycle management. Their initial target market was large hospitals and medical centers. Justifiably jazzed, the company got its sales team revved up. It hired a telemarketing firm to light up the phone lines. And it got its fingers poised over the cash register.

Nothing happened. For a year. Nothing. Not one sale.

They called in our SWAT team (So What Actually Transpired?). In the initial meeting with the client, we asked if the telemarketing firm had learned anything from its year’s worth of calls. The client said, “Yes. Among all the hospitals and medical systems the firm called, they learned that less than four percent of them had ever heard of us.”

We asked the obvious question: “Had you done any marketing?” We received the obvious response.

Trying to generate sales without employing a strategic marketing program by which to create brand awareness is like trying to build a skyscraper from the lightning rod down. You can try it. You might even find a way to make it work. But the smart money will be on gravity.

The most critical, strategic elements for establishing the foundation of any successful sales effort are these, in this order:

  1. Objective-setting
  2. Marketing
  3. Time
  4. Patience.

The late Vince Lombardi is reputed to have said, “Plan your work, and work your plan.” Most companies know to do the former. Conversely, most companies don’t give the time to — or have the patience for — doing the latter. They should set their expectations accordingly.

Set your foundation first. Without it, you won’t need a lightning rod because you won’t be attracting or conducting anything.

What’s been your experience? Please share it with us below.