During my travels around the world, delivering sales training and management development seminars I often make reference to Holland’s Pies. Just imagine trying to describe to someone who is not familiar with the North of England (especially Americans) the town of Baxenden, Steam Puddings and Fish & Chip Shops which only open at certain hours.
My point was to get the delegates to think laterally and recognise the importance of creating brilliant sales and marketing strategies.
Switching from my usual loud slightly northern accent to an even louder and “broad” northern accent, I start by saying: “Now then lads, hast tha heard of Holland’s Pies?” “No you say no I thought Baxenden was the centre of the Universe and everyone has at some time enjoyed a Holland’s Pie or Pudding, am I right?”
Having explained where Baxenden is located and the veritable beauty and gastronomic delight of Holland’s Pies and Puddings ... I continue. “These Holland’s Pie delivery trucks are a sight to behold lad, they are dark brown, bright red and dark green, with the finest gold lettering .... and you’ll never see a Holland’s Pie truck dirty tha knows.”
Moving on, the Chairman of Holland's Pies telephoned me one day and said “Young Le-Moine, you are well know in these parts for good ideas, would thi come up and help us, these young whipper snapper salesmen, we have don’t seem to be able to get to grips with those hardnosed fish & chip shop owners in Blackpool.” For the benefit of the non-British or Non Northerners, Blackpool is a kiss me quick seaside resort which has millions of fish & chip shops and is invaded by everyone from Glasgow, Scotland during the last week in July – 1st week in August and they all have a passion for fighting and eating fish & chips, steam puddings and every conceivable type of pie, and of course always will a mountain of chips.
Having agreed to an urgent meeting I arrived early one summers morning and was taken immediately to the boardroom. At the head of the boardroom table sat this enormous man smoking a pipe, wearing a flat hat and gently stroking several whippets which were sitting quietly by his side. He was surrounded by various well dressed people looking absolutely terrified.
“Now then young Le-Moine, sit thi down lad,” said the chairman who, turning to the man on his right he bellowed, “Tell Harry Senior’s Lad thi problems.”
This poor man started telling me this tale of woe and sadness about how his salesmen just couldn’t get any orders from the Blackpool area, prices too high, competitors too well established, and most of the holidaymakers were from Scotland and they had never heard of Holland’s Pies and Puddings.
I asked him what his strategy had been to overcome these objections and the results he had experienced, the story got sadder and sadder. Not being one to mince my words I turned to the Chairman and said: “I know how to fix this very quickly, but tell me what’s the budget?” “Le-Moine start right away, don’t worry about the cost just get me the business,” said the chairman.
At this point I identified yet another profit opportunity “Mr Chairman” I said, “How would it be if this cost you nothing at all, would that interest you?” The Chairman snarled back “I heard you were a sharp lad, so what’s the deal?” “Well the training and marketing for this isn’t going to be cheap as I’m sure you know, am I right?” “Aye lad,” said the Chairman nodding his head in agreement. “Well, how would it be if I paid for all the marketing and training . . . but do you think it would be fair if I took half of your increased margin for . . . say the next twelve months . . . what have you got to lose?" I said looking furtively around the room. “My word lad you must have balls of steel, but I agree,” bellowed the Chairman and all his sad people sat around the table started nodding as well. They also looked somewhat relieved. At that very moment the Holland’s Pie Plot was born, often referred to as a sales masterpiece which has been told to many a so called Manager some of which have been known to ask “YOU DIDN’T REALLY DO THAT, DID YOU?”
1. I went down to the local British Legion Clubs on bingo night, got up on the stage and asked all the pensioners present, who wanted a free day trip to Blackpool with all expenses paid, all they had to do was travel as a couple (male and female) learn a few words and deliver them at agreed venues with true Northern bluntness.
2. I was amazed, not one person said no.
3. The exercise behind enemy lines was conducted in two waves, half went on the following Thursday and the remaining half the next day.
4. I hired several old style coaches, with a load of witches and gave each person £5 and off we went to Blackpool, learning the words and the plot as we travelled in true Le-Moine style.
5. We did not use the motorways, taking the scenic route instead, stopping at the Halfway House Pub for tea and ablutions.
6. On our arrival at Blackpool (a brilliant sunny day as I recall) the first attack commenced at 12:00 hrs precisely.
7. Each couple had been targeted with two specific Fish & Chip Shops and had to rotate the exercise one hour later, thereby each Fish & Chip Shop would be hit twice.
8. Each couple stood in line and when their turn came up they said
9. “We’ll have steam pudding chips and mushy peas twice please.”
10. At the point when asked if they would like salt and vinegar, all they had to say was
11. “Is that a Holland’s Steam Pudding?”
12. The person serving was obviously going to say no.
13. The pensioners were then highly trained to say, “We couldn’t possibly have anything other than a Holland’s Steam Pudding could we dear?” They would then talk for as long as liked about the virtues of Holland’s Pies and Puddings causing as much delay as possible to the other people standing in line, before being asked to leave.
14. Approximately one hour later in came the next couple when their turn came they would ask for potato pie, chips and mushy peas and just at the point when they were asked if they would like salt and vinegar yes you’ve guessed it they asked very assertively if that was a Holland’s Pie, refuse the offering and walk out.
At this point you might well be asking, how did all this seriously increase the sales of Holland’s Pies and Puddings in the Blackpool territory ... right? ... Patience is a virtue, please continue reading the scriptures herein.
15. The following day one more highly trained old goat team member went back into the war zone with the same plot and walked out.
16. At this point, all the Holland’s Pies salespeople were waiting, briefcase and identification card at the ready, all smartly dressed, all trained to kill with fear beaten out of them, all motivated to succeed where no one had succeeded before. Each salesperson had been assigned a target Fish & Chip Shop.
17. Just at the point when the owner turned around the ‘OPEN’ sign on the door to ‘CLOSED’ the Holland’s Pie sales person was programmed to strike.
18. Knocking aggressively on the door the salesperson knew the owner was bound to hold up his arm, point to his watch and say “we’re closed.”
19. The salesperson without thinking shook his head and shouted: “But I’m from Holland’s Pies.”
20. Every Fish & Chip Shop owner came running back to the door frantically saying “HOLLAND’S PIES ... HOLLAND’S PIES ... THANK GOODNESS YOU’VE COME ...YOU’RE JUST THE MAN I NEED ... I’M MISSING BUSINESS ... I WANT TO BUY YOUR PIES RIGHT NOW”
I wrote this for an after dinner speech. I had been invited to speak to a group of business people, at the Seattle Yacht Club in 1996, about leveraging the power of the Internet within a business. I hope it also demonstrates that I like to have fun when working with clients.