Sales Lessons From 13 Year Old Who Sold 22,000 Boxes of Girl Scout Cookies

I’ve got a term sheet waiting for this girl as soon as she’s ready!

How To Sell The Most Cookies (via NYTimes)

Smile. ‘‘No one wants to buy from a person who is frowning,’’ says Katie Francis, 13, who sold 22,200 boxes of Girl Scout cookies this year, breaking the world record she set last year. Look and act like a professional, even if you’re just a child. When making the rounds in Oklahoma City, Francis wears her troop uniform and passes out business cards. Don’t waste time trying to convince naysayers; instead, ‘‘move on and find the yesses.’’ On school days, Francis works past dark, and she logs 12- to 13-hour days on the weekends.

A saleswoman cannot know the heart of consumers at first glance. Whatever it takes, secure their attention first. Francis goes door to door even in snowstorms. When she sets up a booth in heavily trafficked areas — outside a Walmart, say — she sings songs from the movie ‘‘Frozen,’’ with lyrics adapted to praise the virtues of cookies. Once you have potential customers in earshot, your verbal pitch should appeal to multiple motivations simultaneously: their hunger, impulsiveness, pity, inner philanthropist, sweet tooth. ‘‘There is more than one way to sell a cookie,’’ Francis says. Know what you’re selling: Francis can rattle off lists of ingredients and point out which cookies are ­gluten- and nut-free. What Francis refers to as her ‘‘cookie-­selling career’’ has led to multiple job offers and motivational-­speaking gigs. She recently addressed a university’s entire business department and will be the July speaker at Oklahoma’s Professional Sales Association.

Don’t neglect to cultivate your behind-­the-­scenes support crew. Francis’ mother stores up to 10,000 boxes of cookies in her garage at a time during the two-month cookie-­selling season. At night, she helps Francis count money and load inventory into the family’s S.U.V. and drives her to prime selling locations that change with the time of day. (A saleswoman needs to be something like a predator tracking her prey’s movements.) When her mother is not available, Francis has recruited adults willing to shuttle her around.

As for snacking on cookies while on the job, which some girl scouts do, Francis disapproves. ‘‘It’s better,’’ she says, ‘‘not to eat your product.’’

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