Even before the Internet and e-mail became powerful business selling tools, Dennis Gillings's employees and managers never found it difficult to picture what he was talking about on the phone. The CEO of Quintiles Transnational, in Durham, N.C., would address groups over the speakerphone while his employees in another Quintiles office--perhaps on a different continent--watched an accompanying slide show. This solution cost a fraction of what a slick videoconference would cost and was just as effective.

For companies doing business in remote locations or across time zones, combining slides and speakerphone can help save loads of money and clear up any confusion about a product, process, or price quote. Since most companies have slide projectors, sending some slides in advance and setting a specific time for the telephone call is a great way to get employees and customers to make a serious commitment to teleconferences.

Quintiles, a full-service contract pharmaceutical organization, has grown rapidly while remaining consistently profitable. Much of the growth has come from international markets. The company opened its first overseas location in 1987; in 1998 it has offices in 28 countries. Fifty-five percent of its business is now done outside the United States.