One thing most folks think they know for sure: When you're a Girl Scout, you have to sell. It turns out that Girl Scouts participate in the Girl Scout Entrepreneurial Program; they don't just sell.
Each year the girls are offered a chance to participate in a Fall Products Sale and the Cookie Program. Each sale teaches girls invaluable life skills: sales and marketing, public relations, goal-setting, money management, communications, commitment and community service. Summed up, life is selling --a fact every one comes to know, but one that more and more kids don't realize until after college.
Participation in Council-sponsored Product Sales Programs is plays an important role in the Girl Scouting life. In addition to the life lessons learned, these programs also fund troop activities and trips, camp opportunities, volunteer training, and Council operations that support the girls.
Each girl is encouraged to participate in all aspects of the Product Sales Program. But if she is part of troop, a girl with strong money management skills might focus on keeping the troop's "books, " while her sister scout does more of the direct selling.
For those not a part of Girl Scouts, and even some Girl Scout adult volunteers, the true benefit, meaning, and experience of the sales can be difficult to see. To gain a better understanding, I interviewed the top three Fall sellers from last year, Jasmine Perkins ( Girl Scout Ambassador), Dakota Gregory (Girl Scout Cadette), and Elizabeth Howard (Girl Scout Brownie).
Fall Products Sale is a training program to prepare girls for the much larger, much more competitive Cookie Season. I called on them to congratulate their achievements, as well as to learn more about the industriousness it took to make it to the top. In this last week of the 2012 Cookie Program, perhaps their words will inspire other Scouts to reach for their goals in the home stretch.
1. Congratulations! You made the Top 3 Sellers List last fall - and you were the Top Seller in your age group - Tell me about your selling strategy.
E: "I asked anybody that would listen to me: my family, teachers and all my friends."
D: "To ask as many people as we can and put in effort consistently over the course of the sale. Always keeping the eye on the prize!"
J: "Everyone has a different way of doing things- and everyone has their own way of selling. Not everyone can use the same strategy that someone else used, while one person's strategy is another person's victory. However, there are some things that anyone can use: resilience and passion."
2. When you discovered you'd become the Top Seller, how did that make you feel?
E: "I was really excited, because I wanted to be a top seller. I screamed really loud!"
D: "Proud! And very loved! As I know I could not have reached these accomplishments without the love and support of my family. I was also very happy for Jasmine and Elizabeth!"
J: "I actually didn't think I was going to be the Top Seller. I knew I had worked very hard and that I wanted to be in the top, but I doubted myself capable of being the Top Seller. When I found out, I was so excited, happy, relieved, and honored. I was excited to have achieved my goal and relieved that all of the hard work paid off. I was happy to have spent my last Fall Product Sale in Girl Scouts as successfully as I did, and honored to be representing the Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio and other scouts. It was truly an amazing experience and it was worth the hard work to earn it."
3. Did you have a specific goal when you started?
E: "I just wanted to sell a lot so I could get all the fun prizes."
D: "I did want to top my own sales from the year before but, I really just focused on trying to do as many items as possible. I also set my Military Donations as a Priority. Ever since I got to pack boxes for our men and women serving our country, as well as shake hands with soldiers deploying. Being able to hand them and their families a delicious treat from Girl Scouts to say, 'Thank you for all you do for our country,' was a huge honor. This is will continue to be a passion for me to continue in supporting and giving back to them."
J: "I wanted to be the Top Seller in our Council. I have been a top Seller for Girl Scout cookies, but I never sold as much in Fall product. My primary goal was to have fun and enjoy my last sale as a Scout, and then to be the Top Seller."
4. Tell me about the reward you received, both personally and from Council. Were they worth the time and effort?
E: "I liked all the prizes I got. I really like the tattoo kit. My favoritist part was going on stage with Miss E. at the BIG Expo. I loved being in the fashion show. That was the bestest. Yes, it was worth it."
D: "Council rewards: I really liked the GS pillow case and T-Shirt, and I use my Nutty Dough towards my Extended Troop Trip.
At the Personal/Troop level - We used the $1.00 per item or 10% per magazine towards our trip on the Alaskan Cruise set for Sept 2012. My efforts go directly to getting myself to this exciting adventure. I can not wait to take this once in a life-time journey with my friends!"
J: "I got some really nifty stuff from Council: a VIP pass to BIG, the cape, a nicely framed award, a free weekend at camp, and an amazing Girl-Scout-Canopy. Aside from the super awesome cape and award, I gained a lot of experience through the sale. I had to try different methods of selling, and each one taught me something new. I was exposed to various business techniques that I had not used before and some that I was a little intimidated by (such as sending out emails). But there is something even more than these. There are two very particular instances that I would like to talk about. The first occurred during the sale.
'The first instance I would like to talk about was one that I came across at B.I.G Expo. While I was volunteering- yes, I was volunteering even though I was a s VIP, a woman came up to me and started to thank me. When I asked her what for, she told me that I had inspired her girls to do so much more and that I gave them more interest in Girl Scouts; it was cool again. She told me that they wanted to sell even more cookies and that she wanted to do more in Girl Scouts. The girls were amazed at the mere fact that an older girl was a top seller- and she had purple hair! I had never even thought about or considered my impact on the younger girls. I didn't think I made that big of a difference, to be honest. But these words told me otherwise. I will not forget talking to that mom and I hope that I can inspire girls to do their best too. This personal reward was well worth every moment and I would never surrender it.'
My second case came about during the actual Fall Sale. Along the way, I found a former Girl Scout. Here is the letter that I received after talking to and delivering a 100th Anniversary tin to her. This is not just her story."
5. Team work is an essential aspect of Girl Scouts, how much support did you receive from family and friends?
E: "A lot! My mommy and daddy help me with everything I do. All of my family always buy from me to help me make my goals. All my friends cheered for me when I got my award at BIG."
D: "My Mom and I are a GREAT TEAM! When I feel to overwhelmed with school work she helps me with my sales to keep the balance. I inspire her to keep going too, we lift each other up."
J: "I was in awe at how much support I had from my family and friends. When I told my mom my goal, she said "Alright, let's do it!" My dad thought it would be a fun challenge and helped out too. Even my special needs brother supported me and pushed me forward. My friends were also a huge wave of support. My three fellow Girl Scouts knew what my goal was and encouraged me to reach it. Last, but most certainly not least, "E" helped me achieve my goals. Her words inspired me to do great things and urged me forward. She too was aware of my goals and wanted to help make it happen. I want to thank her, and everyone else who believed in me."
6. What role did your Girl Scout troop play in your success? Did you help each other out? If yes, in what ways did you inspire each other?
E: "My leader, Miss Elaine, always tells us how good we are doing and gives us ideas on how to get more sales."
D: "I went door to door with some members of my troop to try to encourage them in their goals; we did great as a team. The girls at least reached patch level and we enjoyed our time together. Mostly during Fall Sale it is individual - as some think it is too hard to sell these items. The nuts and candy may not sell themselves like the cookies do, but many people we ask never even knew we sold these things and are excited to try something new."
J: "To be honest, the other girls in my troop didn't participate much in the sale. They encouraged me and I tried to help them, but I was on my own as far as the sale went. But this was not going to get me down. I wanted to make them proud."
7. What do you think you've learned from your experience as a Girl Scout? Do you have any future Girl Scout goals?
E: "I've learned a whole bunch. We are learning about how to save water at our meetings. I love to learn about camping. I really like to cook our Brownie Stew. When I grow up, I want to be a counselor at Girl Scout camp like Trumpet and Hot Tamale. I want to sell a lot of nuts and cookies the next years, so I can earn enough to go to San Fransisco and walk across the big bridge."
D: "I have learned everything from Fencing to Financial Literacy. Camping, Horseback Riding, Kayaking, Whale Watching,and gone to see the Blue Man Group are just a few things my troop and I have done together. I have gotten to learn and try new things that I would never have been able to do if I was not in Girl Scouts."
J: "I've written essays on this topic for university because Girl Scouts has been such an irreplaceable factor of my life.'
'My passion for Girl Scouts, and what I have learned through it, leads me to stay connected, utilize those skills in my future, and live my life as a scout. I plan on earning a degree in business because of the talents and skills scouts has given me, and for helping me find who I am. Through the years, I learned how to use money, advertise, devote myself to sales, utilize time management, and found what courage, resilience, and commitment really are. I want to chase my gift in business and one of my dreams is to become a successful business woman that works for a cause. I learned that I am good at something and that I can do whatever I set my goals for. I will be able to take both and help the world.
'Ten years later, I still want to stay involved with Girl Scouts. I interned over the summer and enjoyed every department. One goal now, is to harvest my values as a leader. I used to be a timid, quiet girl who stood back as others lead me- but not anymore. I know girls can do great things, as I have come to discover, connect, and take action in my community. I have become a lady of distinction for my troop, my community, and for other Girls Scouts who look up to me for my accomplishments. I want to teach girls as a troop leader. I want to help them undergo a metamorphosis and grasp their true talents.
I know I will miss Girl Scouts, but even if I am too old to participate, I will always be a scout at heart. I will serve God and my country, help people at all times, and forever live by the Girl Scout Law.'"
8. What advice would you give other girls who become frustrated, discouraged, or unmotivated with their sales?
E: "I would tell them its OK, you can make your goal. You just have to ask everybody you see."
D: "Setting small goals everyday is the best tip. Like, I will talk to one person today or call one family member. You can not reach the really big goals without reaching a lot of little ones along the way. It is work but, worth it. Just staying active in the trying gets you to your goals. Stay happy with little things to re-motivate yourself like get ice cream if you had a great sale day."
J: "Please don't ever give up. I have had some really tough times, and as cookie sales progress, I feel myself frustrated and unmotivated. I am a full time High School student during the day with classes such as Calculus, Anatomy and Physiology, and Government. I am a part-time college student at night too; I am currently taking Sociology and English 1B. I also get tutoring on Tuesdays so that I can stay ahead of the game. If that's not enough, I am also doing cookie booths almost every day until 8 at night.
'Sales have been so slow, and it seems hopeless. I wanted to have the best Cookie Sale ever because I will never get to have one again, but everything is trying to break me. I have sold in snow, wind, rain, and droughts. I have sold through lightning and thunder storms. I have been through the barren days and others full of "No Thank You's." I've even been in two car accidents while transporting cookies form booth sales!
'Even though it is tough, I still have fun. When I am with my troop, my friends, my sisters- I know that everything is okay. I have the support I need to keep going and I won't give up. It's just one season! You will have more to go and each time you will learn something new. For every one person that says "yes", there will be 99 that say "no". But no is not an option. Don't ever let someone else get you down. You make the choice to stand on your two feet and make the most of every second you can! When you look back at this in the future, you will see why it was worth it. Girl Scouts lets girls do great things- just remember that and strive to succeed."
Elizabeth made an impressive $1,700.00 in sales; Dakota earned $2,452.00 for her troop and council; the number one Fall Top Seller was Jasmine, who brought in an amazing $2,861.00!
Jasmine is the number 1 Top 2011 Fall Seller for GSSGC. Here she poses with her life-long loyal customer, who has purchased Girl Scout cookies from her each year since she first became a Girl Scout. Jasmine offers a warm, "Thank you, Mr. Mallard."