Chapter 1 Look Ten Quarters Ahead

For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.

—African proverb

Back in 2009, the United States Congress spent weeks drafting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Most companies simply followed the process, praying it would help kick-start sales that had been ravaged by the deep recession. But at one major high-tech equipment company, sales leaders weren’t waiting. They knew the legislation would create opportunities for them. They put together a dedicated team with a field sales leader to spearhead the stimulus program and made it a focus for the sales organization. This group was responsible for developing compelling offerings, finding target customers, and creating an investment plan.

As soon as the outline of the bill came into focus, the group got busy planning how to exploit the potential that the new law would provide. They saw that the legislation called for grants and tax rebates to encourage healthcare providers to upgrade IT infrastructure and transition to electronic medical records. This infrastructure included products the company made.

The sales group swung into action, quickly developing a tailored offering for hospitals over the first four to six weeks. This was not a case of working with product development to launch tailored products. There was no time. Instead, the group had to select the suite of products that best fit customers’ needs and that fell within the scope of the legislation. It also developed ...

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