What’s in your toolkit?

By Ernest Falkner III

Zillion Dollar Thinking


Initially, we imported a “home office talking suit” to come in and deliver his best shot to the board of directors of a regional organization who would make the final purchasing decision.

That proved to be a terrible strategy. His suit was green, and his talking points were even greener. Only because we had some inside connections did we salvage a second chance to present to the financial managers ourselves. Now what?

Because of the capital savings opportunity of our program, in most cases, the description “no-brainer” was being attached to it. And, because the organization had a significant need to produce savings — jobs were on the line — we had to hit a homer. It was the bottom of the ninth.

And, one more small obstacle. We were told that we would be presenting just before a Superbowl-ringed celeb and his entourage, who would be presenting a real estate deal — no sweat. We were also told that the financial managers were not sales people, but they would in turn deliver their findings back to the board. Good luck.

In all, this was a demanding sales and marketing challenge.

Enter the toolkit. We believed our best shot was to package and organize our presentation so that it would be simple for the managers to deliver an accurate message back to the board. There were 36 people in the room.

We started by handing out plastic kits labeled "toolkits" that were the size of a fishing/sewing box that we would begin to fill item by item. Since this program had taken on the mantel of a “no-brainer,” we built one. It was a rubber brain inside a small Plexiglas box with the international “no” symbol on the front, with the question, “Have you ever seen a “no-brainer?”

We’ve been told that the “no-brainer” sits on the desk of the president of that organization to this day.

The following items were also included:
  • A calculator with our logo and theirs, indicating partnership.
  • A worksheet to calculate each manager’s individual real savings.
  • Physical money: Play money we designed in $100 bills and counted out in the actual savings amount of each manager — somewere in the hundreds of thousands.
  • Laseresponse : We used a laser pointer device to see if we were gaining a consensus among the 36 managers in the room.
  • Other various items.
The upshot of the entire program was the physical money that could be calculated and saved by the collective group. As we left the room, we duplicated the potential savings amount — a few million — and we piled it up on a vacant table close to the middle of the room. It was an impressive stack of money.

Later, before we got the verdict, we were told that the cowboys with the real estate deal after us simply said, “Who were those guys?” It seems that no matter what they said or how they said it, no one could keep their eyes off that huge pile of money.

The toolkit won the day and the deal. And, we negotiated the sell of the toolkit concept back to the carrier for a handsome fee and marketing contract as a result, and no more green suits.