Creating the Right Sales Recipe

June 3, 2022

How Girl Scout Cookie sales are similar to water treatment sales

About the author:

Jennifer Smith, CWS, is vice president of Moti-Vitality. Smith can be reached at [email protected].

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One dreary February afternoon I came across four Girl Scouts standing outside the local hardware store, smiling and eager to sell cookies. I was a Girl Scout Leader for 15 years, holding multiple roles within the Girl Scout Community, so I always try to support the organization when I can. As one Girl Scout approached me, I promised I would stop by “on the way out.” She replied “Thank you! I really like your coat!”

As I left the store the conversation went like this:

Girl Scout #1: “Would you like to buy your cookies now?”

Me: “I want 10 boxes of each, but my hips don’t need that many cookies!”

Girl Scout #2: “The cookies come 12 to a case, so you could get a case of each.”

Me: “That sounds like a great idea, but I think I will take three boxes.”

(I proceed to pick out my three traditional favorites and hand Girl Scout #3 a $20 bill as Girl Scout #4 bags up my cookies, which included a hand-written thank you note.)

Girl Scout #3: “You know, you can get four boxes for $20, unless you want the S’mores or Toffee-tastic. Those are a dollar more, but the S’Mores are so good! You can also donate a box to the soldiers!”

Me: “Well, it looks like I have $25 cash.”

Girl Scout #1: “We take credit cards also!”

I left the booth spending $26 (I found change at the bottom of my purse). I purchased my three favorite cookies, a box of Girl Scout S’mores (they were so good!) and donated a box to the soldiers. I also offered these four girls sales positions. It was then that I realized how a cookie booth and water treatment sales are so similar.

Teamwork

As a Girl Scout Leader of multiple troops, I chaperoned over 50 cookie booths. All girls played a role in the sale of the cookies. The girls are responsible for making signs, setting up the tables, displaying the cookies, approaching adults (which can be very intimidating), counting money, bagging the product and updating their sales sheet.

In water treatment sales we need teamwork to make the sale run smoothly. From the office professional that answers the phone to the installer, every team member has a vital role in providing a fantastic experience.

Asking for the Sale and Upselling

I will admit, I have been known to walk past a booth when the girls do not approach me. At this booth, these girls had no problem asking for the sale, even after multiple adults walked by and mumbled “already bought some” or “no thanks.” When I said I would purchase “on the way out” the girls made sure to approach me again.

In water treatment sales we call that “pending.” We need to make sure we are following up with the homeowner. They may not be prepared to buy during our initial meeting, so we need to remind them we are still available. We can’t get discouraged or intimidated by objections. Radiating a cheerful outlook builds confidence and makes people more likely to listen to what we have to offer. Girl Scout #2 was quick to tell me there were 12 to a case when I said I wanted 10. Girl Scout #3 explained I could get more for my money. In water treatment sales we can offer “system sales,” such as a softener with a reverse osmosis. We can also suggest extra filters, salt services or service plans.

Girl Scout #3 also shared her favorite, which cost a little more, but the upgrade was worth it. She also knew her product and explained what was in each cookie. Girl Scout #1 notified me of the credit card option.

In water treatment sales, we cannot let the price of our equipment, especially our premium equipment, intimidate our sales habits. We should be proud of what we have to offer (and know all the benefits and limitations of each product). Not every homeowner will choose the higher ticket items, it is based on their preferences and budget, and we have to remember it is their decision. If cost is an issue, presenting financing or rental options may make the upgrade more appealing.

Make it Personal

Girl Scout #1 complimented me on my coat. She made it personal, but it also helped her remember me as I walked out of the store.

Girl Scout #4 enclosed a handwritten thank you note. This made me feel happy with my decision. In water treatment, we should always send handwritten thank you notes. Our customers appreciate the personal touch.

Competition with “Knock-offs”

In 2002, some little elves decided to rename a few Girl Scout Cookie favorites and sell them year round. Thin Mints, Tagalongs and Samoas are made in the same factory as the “taste-alike” Keebler cookies.1

Surprisingly, this has not slowed down Girl Scout Cookies sales. Prior to the pandemic, Girl Scouts sold $800 million worth every season.2  This is because consumers support and shop for name recognition.

In water treatment we are often in competition with DIY homeowners who purchase products online or from big box stores. That is okay because they are still treating their water. However, most decision makers are looking to purchase from a name they recognize, and they will support local companies. It is our responsibility to make them feel good about their decision, encouraging repeat customers and referrals.

Goal Setting

Each cookie season, troops make individual goals and troop goals. They need to decide how to use their earnings. Some funds are usually spent on craft supplies while other funds may be used for a troop camping experience.

In water treatment sales we should set goals. We can determine how many sales we need to make to pay our monthly bills, but we want to set our goals a little higher to pay for “extras” such as vacations or savings for our slower months. Our managers will also set company goals to assure the company is profitable.

Creative/ Individual Sales

As a Girl Scout Leader, I offered time slots at the cookie booths for scouts who were not able to make many individual sales. In water treatment sales we could compare this to “house” leads. However, if house leads are not available, we still need to meet our goals. Girl Scouts reach out to friends and family, they go door-to-door (even in cold weather), they advertise on personal social media, and they reach out to prior customers. These are all great lead generating techniques we can learn from these young ladies.

Straight Commission

In order to keep the cost of the cookies within the consumer’s budget, Girl Scout Troops receive only a small monetary portion of each box sold.

  • 19% goes towards troop proceeds and rewards (This is similar to a sales professional’s commission. While 19% may be slightly more than most sales professionals receive for commissions, also factor in the benefits your company offers).
  • 21% goes towards the Girl Scout Cookie Program and baker costs (this is similar to our dealer and product fees).
  • 60% is invested in girls through programs, properties, volunteer support and training, financial assistance, and council services (In water treatment this is simply overhead).³

The 5 Essential Goals

The Girl Scout Cookie Program instills five essential goals: Goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics.4

These are characteristics I look for when hiring a sales professional. If you happen to come across a resume with “Girl Scout” noted in their experience, make sure to call them for an interview. They have built the basic skills they need to represent your company with honesty and integrity.

Resources:

  1. https://www.cnbc.com/id/46503106
  2. https://www.girlscouts.org/content/dam/girlscouts-gsusa/forms-and-documents/about-girl-scouts/facts/GSUSA_facts_English_02-20.pdf
  3. https://www.girlscoutstoday.org/content/dam/girlscoutstoday/documents/Cookies/cookie-connections.pdf
  4. https://www.gssem.org/content/dam/gssem/documents/product-sales/cookie-program/2022/cp-juliette-guide.pdf

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