By Holly Reisem Hanna
It just so happens that Girl Scout cookie selling season coincides with many direct sales companies spring line launches.
Like you with your direct sales business, my daughter has set goals for her cookie business this year. In fact, she decided to double the number of boxes she sold from the previous year so that the troop can attend a much-coveted overnight campout at Sea World. While 150 boxes may not sound like a lot of cookies — when you physically have them in hand, it’s a lot.
The first few days of cookie sales are always fun and exciting, but as time goes on I begin to wonder …“Will we ever reach our goal”?!
Can you relate?
If you're interested in selling more and making more money this season, here are some great tips I've learned from helping my daughter sell Girl Scout cookies.
The Early Bird Gets the Worm.
As they say, “The early bird gets the worm” and this couldn’t be more true than when it comes to selling cookies or your new spring direct sales line. When your new product line launches you’ll want to reach your prospects first, so that they are more likely to buy and book a party with you. Wait too long and you’ll soon find that they’ve already been approached.
One way to make sure you’re the early bird is by doing some pre-planning. Send out an email or social media update letting your clients know when the new line comes out. Offer an incentive for booking early — we like to entice people with free local delivery of cookies.
When you’re trying to sell your products, it’s always easiest when you personally know the individual. For instance, when we went door-to-door selling cookies, we always sold double or triple the amount to people we knew versus the people we did not know. This goes back to the simple principle that people buy stuff from people they know, like, and trust.
The first thing you need to do as a direct sales consultant is make yourself visible. This can be done through social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Also consider attending networking events, conferences, and becoming part of your local chamber of commerce. You can also participate in speaking events or volunteer activities where you’re out meeting new people. The like and the trust factors are built over time through positive interaction and most importantly, being yourself.
Once you’ve developed the know, like, and trust into the relationship, you’ll find that people are willing to take the relationship further by offering word of mouth referrals. In fact, this cookie season we sold a good a third of our cookies through word of mouth referrals. So make sure you’re taking time to cultivate and nurture relationships before, during, and after the sale. People don't like being approached only when you want something from them.
While the majority of our cookie sales were made to local residents, we were able to sell donation boxes to people who were on a diet or lived out of town — but we had to speak up. Make sure that you’re offering your clients alternatives to the standard home shopping party. Perhaps you could suggest a virtual show that’s held through Facebook or via email, or maybe you could suggest a personal one-on-one showing. Often times customers assume there is only one option available, so it is up to you to present alternatives.
I’ll admit it … There were days when I thought we’d be stuck with 50 boxes of cookies. But persistence paid off. One really valuable lesson I’ve learned from selling Girl Scout cookies is that many of the girls go really hard the first couple of weeks, then they lose momentum and abruptly stop. This leaves a wide door of opportunity for the girls and ladies who keep on selling all the way to the end. In fact, many individuals that we sold to near the end of sales, said that they had yet to be approached by a Girl Scout. Just because you feel like everyone’s been approached — it’s simply not true. Continue to push all the way through to the end and you will reap the benefits of more shows and increased sales.
Look the Part.
Who can say “no” to a cute little Girl Scout dressed in her uniform? When you’re out doing a direct sales show, make sure that you look professional. This is especially important for women who are selling beauty, health, fashion or style related products. Like it or not, first impressions do matter and they can make or break the sale. Make sure that you dress to impress, that your mannerisms are friendly, attentive, and warm and most importantly that you convey a sense of positivity, confidence, and enthusiasm.
Always Be Prepared.
Okay, I know this is the Boy Scout's motto, but it applies so nicely to selling more. Wherever you go, no matter what you're doing, bring your business with you. For us, that always meant having Girl Scout cookies in the car. I can't tell you how many times we ran into people, mentioned that we had been selling cookies and they purchased a box or two. Another girl in our troop took this a step further and carried a clear plastic backpack, loaded with cookies and sign that said $4 a box. And yes, people stopped her to purchase cookies. If you're out and about make sure that you at least have a business card or direct sales catalog to hand to prospects. When you're in a store and someone says they like your shade of lipstick, offer them a sample or catalog. The key is to always be prepared — because you never know when an opportunity will present itself.
Have you ever sold Girl Scout cookies? Are you currently involved with a direct sales company? What lessons have you learned along the way?