I’m a Brownie troop leader and we’re in the middle of Girl Scout cookie selling season. As a result, I worked with some of the scouts on selling tips which I thought I’d share because they’re useful to anyone out there selling anything.
1) Know your product
The girls should be able to name all varieties and describe them in detail, including pointing out reduced fat varieties. They often suggest their personal favorites or ask customers what kind of cookies they like so they can suggest selections.
2) Pick your target customer and figure out how to reach them
Two of our scouts put fliers in our neighbors’ paperboxes letting them know cookie sales were on and they’d be stopping by. They also allowed those who already had a Girl Scout providing cookies to them let them know so they wouldn’t bother them.
3) Give them a reason to buy
The girls talk about how cookie sales support troop activities, including ensuring that all girls can participate in a camping trip that ends the scouting year. They talk about what they do in Girl Scouts to support their community and how funds raised help make that possible.
4) Upsell creatively
They point out that Girl Scout cookies freeze beautifully, or suggest a program called “Cookies from Home” that allows anyone to buy cookies and ship them elsewhere (like to those in nursing homes or serving in the military.)
5) Handle rejection gracefully
OK, this one’s tough for a six year old. During some role playing, my daughter’s first reaction to rejection was to stamp her foot and say “Oh, man!” But we armed them with a response should another Scout have gotten there first: “Thank you for supporting Girl Scouts and I’ll call on you again next year.” After all, Scouts are to be kind, courteous, and help others at all times.
6) Be first
Get out there early and reach customers before someone else does.
7) Learn from your mistakes
Just a few of our learnings…If you eat the cookies you won’t have any samples to share. People don’t like to be disturbed while eating dinner (and yes, some people have dinner before 4 p.m.) Make the sale and move on… don’t stand there and watch what they’re watching on television. And never, ever, ask someone why they’re still in their pajamas at Noon.
Selling cookies is serious business. There are hundreds of Girl Scout in our small town alone out there hawking cookies. And we’ve moved into another scout’s territory, where she happily sold cookies for years without any competition. Until we came to the neighborhood. And there are dozens of Quixtar employees who have Girl Scouts selling cookies this month (somebody estimated that there are at least five scouting families in Communications alone.)
The tradition of Girl Scouts selling cookies dates back nearly 100 years, when scouts would bake cookies at home and sell them door-to-door to raise funds for troop activities. Later, licensed baking companies produced the cookies for sale by Girl Scouts coast to coast. I was a Girl Scout and am now a Brownie leader, but I was a cookie customer all the years in between.
And yes, those 10 boxes of Thin Mints are for me (remember, they freeze beautifully!)