Work & Career
16 Business Secrets from the Savviest Girl Scout Cookie Sellers
Need motivation to get ahead in your career? Look no further than these Girl Scouts, who have a stronger entrepreneurial spirit than most adults.
Assume it’s a “yes”
A presumptive close on a pitch means wrapping up with the assumption that the person will buy. For instance, Olivia V. Cranshaw, 14, who’s been the number-one seller for the Girl Scouts of Greater New York three times, ends her door-to-door pitch by saying: “This year, five boxes cost only $20; can I help you pick out your five boxes?” By framing your words so clients would have to choose to opt out instead of opting in to your goals, you subtly encourage them to agree.
Learn from those before you
Katie Francis holds the national single-season sales record with 22,200 boxes in 2015, but the 15 year old from Girl Scouts Western Oklahoma is aiming to hit a career total of 100,100 boxes for 2017. With that, she would beat the previous career record of 100,000, set by Elizabeth Brinton between 1978 and 1990. Hoping to learn from the best, Katie got in touch with Brinton in 2014. “She said to ‘think outside the box’ and come up with new ideas,” says Katie. For more inspiration, check out these billionaires’ definitions of success.
Don’t be afraid to invest
Putting in cash up front for your business can be scary, but you might have to spend money to make money. Althea Collier, 12, whose record is selling 1,500 boxes of cookies in a year for the Girl Scouts of Greater New York, says she pre-buys boxes, then puts all her effort into her sales. Some people will order straight from her, but it’s up to her to hit the streets to sell the rest of the Girl Scout cookie boxes. “Since I buy all the cookies ahead of time, there is no going back,” she says. “This has taught me a lot about responsibility and doing things myself.” Soften the blow of putting cash down with these money-saving tips.
Get people’s attention
Getting people to notice you is key to bringing your dreams to reality. Instead of sitting by a Girl Scout cookie booth hoping to catch someone’s eye, Katie gets proactive by singing and dancing. “It’s a great way to make the sales more fun, and it catches people’s attention,” she says. She’s even started a YouTube channel showcasing the Girl Scout cookie-themed songs she writes to the tune of popular songs, from Lady Gaga melodies to Christmas tunes.
Show customer appreciation
Valerie Rufo, 7, who was the top seller in her Mt. Pleasant, New York, Girl Scout troop last year, says she sends a personalized thank-you card to each of her buyers. “It shows them that you care and appreciate their business and will keep them as a loyal customer,” she says. Find out how to write a truly heartfelt thank-you note.
Break down big goals into smaller ones
Breaking a huge goal down into bite-sized moves will keep you motivated. Keeping track of your progress gives you a chance to celebrate successes along the way, plus recognize if you’re falling behind. Katie says she records her sales in a spreadsheet to stay on track with her weekly—or even hourly—goals. “Sales go up and down daily, so if they are down, I know I have to work harder over the next few days,” she says. Borrow these mantras to make your goals a reality.
Fit your customers’ needs
Keep in mind your customers’ lifestyles, and accommodate to them, if you can. Not everyone carries cash around with them, so Althea makes it easy for buyers by giving them the option to pay for Girl Scout cookies with plastic. By making it obvious, she doesn’t let customers who assume her booth is cash-only walk away. “Some of my signs advertise the fact that I take credit cards, chip cards, and Apple Pay with Square,” she says.
Give others your full attention
Never seem like you’re distracted when you’re talking with someone who could help you reach your goals. Olivia says she always makes eye contact with customers buying Girl Scout cookies. “It shows you are interested in them and that you care and are serious about the sale,” she says. “If you focus on the customer, they will know that they are important to you.” Try these other habits of good listeners.
Flash a smile
Greeting people with a smile isn’t just polite, but it will also boost your charisma. When others know you’re passionate, they’ll share that excitement with you. “I have found that when I show energy, it creates more energy,” says Katie. “I share a smile, and people smile back. Have fun with what you do and show it!” Don’t miss these other secrets of naturally charming people.
Always be prepared
Keeping the right materials on hand will help you reach your goals, even when you least expect it. “You need to be prepared at all times, wear your advertisements, carry around your order card, and even make business cards,” says Althea. Be ready to network and hand out your own card when the opportunity arises.
Show customers how they’re helping
If anyone asks for more information, be prepared to show them how the money they’re spending will help that client or your cause. Katie says she tells customers how the money from the cookies will help her Girl Scout troop host day camps, throw cookie-training events, help other troops, and more. Olivia says she sends updates to customers before they even ask. “I send out an email to all my past clients detailing my goals, past accomplishments, my Silver and Gold Awards, Digital Cookie, and all the fun activities we have done as a troop and are planning on doing this year,” she says.
Never be afraid to try
If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. Olivia says she’s never afraid to ask people if they want to buy Girl Scout cookies. “Even if you get a no, it means you are one step closer to a yes,” she says. “It’s not embarrassing or the end of the world.”
Don’t limit yourself
Be ready to surprise yourself. Goals are great, but don’t stop there. You might end up with better results than you’d hoped for if you stay motivated. “In previous years, I’ve always been able to go over my goal by not setting limits on myself,” says Katie. “I stay positive and believe in myself because you can’t sell cookies if you let the ‘no’ answers get you down. I keep moving forward to the ‘yes’ answers.” Get inspired by these “dream big” quotes.
If you assume your dreams are unreachable, you’ll never have the drive to meet (or exceed!) your goals. Always be brave and confident when starting a venture, even when others have their doubts, says Althea. “If you are willing to put yourself out in the world and make sure people know you’re there, nothing is going to stand in your way,” she says. “Don’t let others’ criticism stand in your way!” Use these science-backed confidence boosters.
Don’t shy away from reminders
Your goals are your top priority, but they might not be top of mind to colleagues and customers who have other things going on. Reach out and politely nudge the people you’re relying on, says Valerie. “If it looked like I was not going to reach my goal, I would send out reminder emails to my customers, friends, and family members,” she says.
Give other options
Your product might not be for everyone, but it’s definitely for someone. If customers are hesitant to take you up on your original offer, add a twist for another option. Katie’s troop suggests potential buyers donate boxes to troops overseas or a local food bank if they don’t want the cookies for themselves. Want to get your hands on a box (or ten) for your own? Visit girlscoutcookies.org to find out when Girl Scouts will be selling near you.