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Teaching sales and marketing with Girl Scout cookies

I once was a Cub Scout. Much of it I liked. I liked camping and learning how to use a knife. I enjoyed hanging out with other boys.

But there was one thing about Cub Scouts that I hated: selling raffle tickets! I would knock on door after door. I knew folks were home because their cars were in the driveways. But they mostly wouldn’t answer. Those that did would usually say, “No thanks.”

I was a bad raffle ticket salesperson.

But every winter, I would see Girl Scouts going door-to-door selling box after box of cookies.

It wasn’t fair!

I attempted to sell a piece of paper that nobody cared about. Girl Scouts sold delicious cookies. And even worse, the whole country participated. I would hear “It’s Girl Scout cookie time” on the radio and see it on television. I read references to Girl Scout cookies in newspaper articles.

Nobody wrote about Cub Scouts selling raffle tickets.

Teaching with cookies

Fast forward to today.

My two daughters are Girl Scouts. And I now love Girl Scout cookies for the same reasons I once hated them.

My girls are both in elementary school. I occasionally bring them to my office. I try to teach them a bit about ecommerce, but they are not terribly interested.

The FringeSport office has a retail store up front with offices and a warehouse in the back and a gym beside it all. Mostly, the girls play in the gym, where they don’t learn a ton about business or ecommerce.

However, when Girl Scout cookie time rolls around, it’s our time to shine. I teach them sales techniques from Sandler Training. Before we approach a door, I ask them what they’re going to say. They have their script ready. I teach them about overcoming objections.

“If this person says they already bought Girl Scout cookies, what do you say?”

One daughter will respond, “Well these cookies freeze well. So you should buy additional boxes and put them in the freezer. When Girl Scout cookie season is over, they’ll taste better knowing you can’t buy them any longer.”

Or, “Well, I’m sure you don’t need anymore. But did you know that you can buy boxes to send to our troops in Afghanistan? I bet they love getting cookies and knowing that people at home care about them.”

I also teach them how to handle rejection, when somebody says no. (Even with Girl Scout cookies, most people say no.) But it’s a numbers game. Go to the next house. Knock on more doors.

Digital marketing, too

Finally, I teach them about internet marketing. I don’t think we’re allowed to sell Girl Scout cookies through ecommerce channels. But you can take physical orders that then get shipped from the Girls Scout distribution center.

And I teach them how to use social media marketing — Facebook — to broadcast that cookies are for sale. I tell them how to run webinars — using FaceTime to reach family members.

I even teach them how to make marketing videos and post them to a Facebook page. Our neighborhood in Austin has a Facebook page. I have the girls put videos up on that page and offer to deliver the cookies in the neighborhood for free.

I now love Girl Scout cookies. They allow me to share my love of marketing and sales with my daughters and teach them a bit about ecommerce.

Come to think of it, Girl Scout cookie season is only a few months away. I know two girls in Austin, Texas who would love to sell you a box, regardless of where you live. Email me and we’ll work out the details.

Peter Keller
Peter Keller
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