Girl Scout cookies
Teaching young people to sell is a priceless gift. The confidence and clarity that comes from being able to engage and to cause a transaction is a trait that can pay off for a lifetime.
I thought I'd share a simple sales approach that in my experience consistently doubles the sales rate for Girl Scouts, at the same time it permits a more natural, humanistic engagement. Most Scouts are taught to memorize a fairly complicated spiel, one that involves introducing themselves, talking in detail about the good work that the Scouts do, and finishing with how the money raised goes for this and for that.
This is difficult work even for a professional, but for a kid talking to an adult, it's frightening and unlikely to lead to a positive experience. The alternative?
"What's your favorite kind of Girl Scout cookie?"
In less than ten words, all the Proustian memories of previous cookie experiences are summoned up. In one simple question, the power in the transaction shifts, with the Scout going from supplicant to valued supplier.
(And that's the universal lesson here: A question that avoids a 'no', a question that starts a conversation, a question that opens the door to emotion... those are the questions that build careers and create value.)
The cookie-buying experience isn't about making some sort of charitable contribution. Buying cookies is an incredibly inefficient way to support anything but a cookie company. No, the experience from the buyer's point of view is an emotional connection to something that's been in their life since they were a kid (there's a reason they don't change the flavors) as well as a positive interaction with a young person learning to speak up.
PS If you're busy selling your kid's cookies at work in a misguided attempt to raise money for the troop, please don't! It undermines the very point of the exercise, and you'd probably raise more money if you did some freelance work instead. Access to cookies isn't the point, teaching the Scouts to be confident salespeople is.