Selling Girl Scout Cookies

26907747_10154925391380216_6675666031665677015_nThese are the cookies I bought after an impromptu sales training on a sidewalk in the middle of downtown.

Three lovely young ladies and a couple of moms had set up on Congress, I was walking by on the way to a meeting when I heard the familiar, “Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?”

I walked past with a quick, “No, thank you.”

I made it all the way to the corner of Congress & Sixth before stopping, looking back twice, then turning on my heel. I needed to help.

If you or anyone you know is involved with young women learning sales, business, project management, etc. through this excellent annual tradition, PLEASE, help them by doing better than that old stand by question.

To start, it’s great that they are asking just about everyone! That is the most important thing. We only make shots we take.

But what if we had a better first question?

The main problem with that question above is that it is known and closed-ended, i.e. people are conditioned to say “No, thank you.”

A simple improvement is to try questions that get someone to stop and think:

1. “Hello, we’re doing a survey… Can you tell me what your favorite Girl Scout cookie is?”
2. “Good afternoon… What kind of service projects do you think are most important for young women to be involved in?”

Do I know where the conversation will go from there?? Nope! But I know you will get a lot more people stopping to talk, and each active conversation is an opportunity to close that you won’t have with that old tired question.

Next, think about the value proposition, i.e. WHY should a person give you their money, WHAT are they really trading for… Here’s a hint… It’s NOT the cookies.

Once you get them talking, your potential customer should now be engaged with a real live Girl Scout. Do they know that is truly a special opportunity? It is a chance for them to hear why these young ladies are out there on the street, what they get from the program, the specific places they will go and things they will do when they and their troop achieve certain sales goals during cookie season.

Girl Scouts on street corners in downtown, out in front of grocery stores, knocking on your front door, are NOT selling cookies! They are selling good citizenship, service hours, personal development, wholesome fun, academic achievement, and all of the rest of those outcomes that Girl Scouts provides and promotes.

THOSE are the things buyers (as members of this community) receive from that money all year long… Long after the Thin Mints box has been tossed in the recycling bin.

But that isn’t the value proposition most often being sold in front of the supermarket and door-to-door… For that these young ladies need to get people to stop and talk for a couple minutes.

But if they can get to that value proposition, the final ask will be for how MANY boxes not whether $5 is worth it.

To recap:

1. Keep asking everybody!
2. Start with a question that isn’t answered Yes or No.
3. Don’t sell cookies. Sell the Girl Scouts.

And remember to make sure the girls have fun!

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