Jun 9, 2010
I’ve seen a documentary series on one man’s efforts to establish a new type of (dark, perhaps almost bitter) luxury chocolate to the all too sweet craving English taste buds. Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory follows our eponymous hero spend every last penny (and more) he has in pursuit of his dream.
One fascinating exchange shows him meeting the relevant buyer at trendy department store Selfridge’s. He was pitching his cacao-based barrel shaped bars as a posh cooking ingredient.
We see him walk into the meeting room. Within a nanosecond, he pulls out a chocolate cake and offers up a piece.
In sales terms, this is remarkable. The inference is clearly that this was a first meeting. Yet there was absolutely no questioning up front. Willie knew nothing about what the guy was after, how he decided what he’d stock, what drove his stocking vision.
I can’t think of any solution based meeting that would effectively start with the product demo. He compounded my misery by stating, ‘this is the best chocolate cake you’ll have ever tasted’. Unbelievable! The usual reaction to this kind of statement is a silent “we’ll see about that shall we”, rapidly followed by an inevitable negativity in the mind’s ear of the prospect.
Yet Willie was rescued. The buyer loved the cake. Willie’s stated vision was to make the world’s best chocolate. If you really are after breaking the mould, and truly have the product to back it up, then maybe (just maybe) you can get away with this.
Whilst we were spared the close (if indeed there was one), Willie had all sorts of barriers to success here, not least of which were having to educate anew the consumer, and deciding to major on the ingredient aspects, when all his informal research suggested that his drink (‘choc-shocks’) and bar would be better starting points. But at least he got his foot in the door and started a relationship. I hope it’s a fruitful one.