Fifteen-year-old Girl Scout Katie Francis knows a thing or two about the art of the sell. Since joining her Oklahoma City troupe seven years ago, she’s smashed all previous cookie selling records, selling over 100,100 boxes. It’s an achievement, she told CNN, that’s the result of a lot of hard work, not to mention some pretty savvy entrepreneurial chops.
Here are five things this enterprising Girl Scout can teach you about business.
1)There are three “ingredients” to the perfect sell
Katie says her three-part formula works every time. It goes like this: “Time, commitment and asking everyone I see.”
“A lot of people will say no to cookies throughout the year,” says the pint-sized snack maven, but “you’ve got to keep on moving and keep on getting those yeses.”
Katie also credits building relationships in her community over the years as a way to ensure constant sales.
“Every box helps,” she notes.
2) Use every hour of the day
Cookie season usually only goes on for a few short months each spring. That means there’s no time to lose, says Katie.
“I go out selling cookies until I get home at night. And on Saturdays I sell all day long. I take every single hour that I can to go sell,” she says.
Being prepared is also key, she adds, which means planning out her selling schedule and strategy in advance.
“I make sure that I have all my signs ready. I have a few that I put up on my cookie booth that advertise what we’re doing for that year – what my goal is, what my troupe is going to be doing,” she explains.
3) Do not underestimate the “pity sell”
Could you say no to a shivering Girl Scout on your way into the grocery store? Katie’s banking on you feeling compelled to show a little sympathy. With your wallet.
“Whenever there’s good weather a lot of girls are always out so the market gets kinda saturated, and other years it’s absolutely freezing and snowing, and not many people want to stop at a booth to buy,” Katie notes.
But while less resilient sorts might stay cozy at home, Katie sees icy climes as a perfect opportunity for what she has wryly dubbed “pity sales,” and sets up her stall.
“People say ‘Oh she’s working really hard, I think I’ll buy from her, I feel sorry that she’s so cold!’” she notes.
Still, she concedes, if it’s “very cold” she will “try to find a way where I can get where it’s warm.”
But if a warm room isn’t available, “I’m still gonna be outside selling cookies for sure,” she says.
4) It’s not a contest
Though Katie has undoubtedly sold more cookies than any of her fellow Girl Scouts, she’s keen to emphasize that it’s not a cutthroat competition.
“There’s another girl who sells a lot of cookies, but I’ve gotten to know her personally very well. I’ve made a whole bunch of friends,” she says.
Besides, she notes, “one of the last lines of our Girl Scout law is ‘be a sister to every Girl Scout,’ and everyone always follows that. It’s really amazing.”
5) If in doubt, dance
Sometimes, no matter how much time and rigorous preparation you put in, when the going gets tough, you’ve gotta just bust a move, says Katie.
When sales are slow, she explains, “I like to sing and dance to help attract customers’ attention.”
“I’ve sung songs to Christmas tunes, Girl Scout songs and popular songs. ‘Do You Want to Build a Snowman’ is a real popular one,” she observes, citing the tune from Disney’s “Frozen” movie.