The Girl Scouts just celebrated their 101st anniversary of slinging Samoas and Shortbreads for the betterment of their organization and their community. And the cookie-eating populace still can’t get enough: The organization recently reported that they had sold 200 million boxes of Girl Scout cookies in the 2017 selling season. Considering all the work that goes into doling out Do-si-dos, we wanted to get an inside look at some scout tactics: How do you find your biggest clients? What new revenue streams are most viable? What insider Girl Scout cookie selling tips should we keep in mind?
That’s why we spoke to Sabrina, a Girl Scout from Indiana. She is excellent at selling cookies, moving more than 1,000 boxes per Girl Scout Cookie season. She does this through a combination of honing her long-standing relationships, aggressively seeking out new customers, and always approaching a sale as prepared as possible.
Sabrina has acquired a lot of great tactics over the years. So we asked her to share, in her own words, some of her best business practices. She was more than happy to oblige.
1. Get Out Early
I find that in the first or second week of cookie sales, I sell the most. It’s early. People are surprised and say, “Oh, it’s that time of year again! Time to break my New Year’s resolutions!” I think the earlier I get out, the better. You have that shock element of being out there early, and you can say, “You can have them for the Super Bowl,” and “You can have them for Valentine’s Day.”
2. Always Seek Out New Revenue Opportunities
I have a cookie booth at a car dealership. When people are waiting for things like their oil change, they can buy a box of cookies. My mom got her car from there. We’re good friends with one of the salespeople who works there. My mom had to use a rental car and she was just pulling out cases and cases of Thin Mints from her car. The salesperson told me, “You’re a super seller,” and I said, “Yeah, I’m actually on my way to a booth.” She recommended the idea to her boss and it just sort of went off from there. I think I’ve done it for two or three years now and it’s an amazing set-up.
3. But Don’t Forget About Your Original Clients
The moment cookie sales open, on the first week of January, I get a list of everyone who has bought from me and I call them. I leave them emails, messages, or get to them the best way I can, and I say “It’s that time of year again.” I make specific calls and I say, “Hey, John Smith, you bought five boxes of Do-si-dos from me last year. Would you like to repeat that order?” More often than not, they will say, “You know what, add another one on there. I ran out early this year” or “That is perfect.” I have repeat customers. I have people who just come back to me and I think that’s a great connection to have.
4. Stay Up to Date on Holidays
I’m set up at cookie booths in my local area. I have one in a florist shop on Valentine’s Day. My mom is an event planner. She and the florist were lifelong friends. The first year I wanted to sell 1,000 cookies, I was like, “You know, you are busy on Valentine’s Day and the day before. May I set up a cookie booth here?” He said, “Yeah, absolutely.” You get guys who are like “I forgot flowers!” And then they’d see the cookie booth and say, “You know what, it’s not the same old chocolate. This is perfect.”
5. Know Your Product
This year, a guy came into the florist, and he said to me, ‘My wife is pregnant and she’s vegan.’ I said ‘Thin Mints are vegan!’ He bought them. Cookie sales has also taught me management. I have to think, “Men like Samoas so I should be at a place where a lot of men are buying their girlfriends flowers,” so we have cookies available, too.
6. Planning Maximizes Opportunity to Sell
To certain audiences, I sell more cookies than others. Thin Mints are obviously the most popular. I’ve found that men like Samoas. I know a lot of women who like Tagalongs. I’ve also found that my peers love Samoas. I brought four boxes of Samoas to school and put them in my locker one day and one guy said, “I have 5 dollars.” So I got change for him, and he got a box of Samoas. At school, I’m in the play. I think people will be hungry, so I say, “Hey, I can bring a box of Girl Scout Cookies tomorrow.” They’re like, “You know what, it’s cheaper than buying a bag of chips for a week.” So I’ve sold that way.
7. It Is, To A Certain Extent, A Numbers Game
In my first year selling, I had someone buy 10 boxes. I thought, “Okay, only 20 more people have to buy 10.” And then I have my goal. You break it down, in a way. I have 24 neighbors, and if all of them buy one box, I have two cases sold already. My goal is 10 cases sold today. Whatever goal you or your troop may have, your goal has to be split up. I think that makes it easiest. This year, I’ve sold 1,200 boxes of cookies. The most I’ve sold was 1,800 boxes a year or two ago. I have friends that order a lot, and I think that helps with it, too.It’s not just pre-sales. I just have to think ahead and manage that.
8. Most Importantly, Don’t Overthink It
Every year, there’s always that one person I have to break the ice with. I’m always a bit nervous. I go up to their house and I knock on their door. I have to take a deep breath and I’m like, “Would you like to buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies?”
It’s like tying your shoes. The first time you do it, you’re like, “Okay. I can’t make a knot, apparently.” But then, you know, the 10th or 11th time going around, you’re completely cool with it. This year, by the time I hit the first or second person I’m like, “We’ve established this. We can do this.”
It’s a dozen words that you have to say to a stranger or a friend and you get yes’s and you get no’s. The yes’s, well, you’ve sold at least one.