want to read on. Below, I outline some of the applicable weapons of influence that you may want to utilize in your selling activities, with some examples of how they would apply to the sales of seasonal, well-loved Girl Scout Cookies.
If you accidentally found this page while looking to buy Girl Scout cookies rather than sell, check out my niece's page!
Reciprocity - Give a Little, Get a Little (but more)
The principle of reciprocity says that when you give something to someone or do something for them, they are inherently put in a place of being indebted to you, and are then more willing to do something nice for you in return. The funny thing about this is that the magnitude of one favor doesn't have to balance with the magnitude of the next. Monks employ this by presenting a small flower, or bracelet or coin, and in return ask for a sizable donation, which is much greater than the value of whatever trinket they "gave" to you for free.
The application is pretty straight forward here: One approach would be to buy a box of cookies yourself, slice them apart if you can, and then offer passers-by "free samples" in hopes that they will buy a full box (or three). This may be especially useful when you have a new flavor to push, or a flavor that is not selling as well that you may need to get rid of faster.
If they don't buy, don't worry, there is still a secondary use of your apparent generosity: You can do them another "favor" by making a concession, and instead asking them to spread the word or share a link to your online store, etc.
The second approach, if buying cookies for the purpose of free samples is off the table, consider instead making small crafts like bracelets or paper origami you could hand out as free gifts. The goal of course is to ultimately spend far less on the freebie then you get in return on your sales. But getting more sales will be addressed in some later tactics.
Scarcity, or in today's terms, #FOMO
The good news, my Girl Scout friends, is that the wares you're peddling are truly limited-time, at least for the year. Use this to your advantage! Long before the notion of the Fear of Missing Out was put to a meme-ified acronym, people have always had a notion of not wanting to miss their chance. It's what drives our very biology - we prefer rest because we don't know when we'll get more of it, and we like to eat more than we need because the caveman versions of ourselves didn't know when their next meal would come along.
Anyways, there are two very easily implemented strategies in this category. A medium-size white board may be the best tool for these strategies. As you run out of a popular flavor, such as Tagalogs, write on your board, "Only 5 boxes of Tagalogs left!" The Tagalog lovers will have an increased sense of urgency to buy, buy, BUY! Then, as you get close to the end of your selling season, make a sign or write on your whiteboard, "Last chance to get your Girl Scout cookies!"
Make them like you
There are a lot of elements that make a person like another. To maximize your sales, start with your physical appearance. Younger Girl Scouts can play up the "cute" factor with pigtails, sweet outfits and lots of energy. However, the feminist in me cringes a little bit at this, so I will at least offer a more woman-forward alternative: think about dressing up as your future career aspiration. If you want to be a business woman, wear a sport coat and a classy necklace, and pull your hair back. If you want to be a scientist, see if you can get your hands on a research lab coat and safety goggles. Dress as a doctor, or religious leader, or zoologist or whatever it is you may want to be. This not only addresses the immediate benefit of looking attractive, but it also has a secondary benefit of reminding your customers that they aren't just buying cookies, they're helping you become that amazing woman you aspire to be.
Next, use compliments on potential customers. Compliment the shirts or shoes they're wearing, tell them their kids are cute. If you can figure out what they're making for dinner based on a cursory glance at their purchases outside the grocery store, tell them, "I bet you're a great cook! Wouldn't you love some Girl Scout cookies for dessert to go with that meal?" Compliments have a little bit of the reciprocity principle at work as well, but are best utilized to increase your likability.
You can also be likable by doing something unique in a fun way. You could advertise "Free Hugs" in big letters, and "Girl Scout Cookies $4 per box" in smaller letters below it. Use current events in memes or puns in your advertising, or parody a popular song.
Another idea that utilizes both reciprocity and likability is to throw a "Girl Scout Cookie Kick-off Party". You can partner with a restaurant as a fundraising event and a cookie pre-sale, which is both charitable and helps to kick-start your selling season.
Social Proof - "Everyone is doing it"
This principle is another predecessor of #FOMO. They say that if you stand on the corner of a street and look up at the top of the building nearest you, not much happens. But if you get a group of 4 or 5 people to stand on the corner looking up at the top of building, then everyone who walks by is going to look up. Likewise, if possible and if sales are slow, arrange for some of your loyal customers to come physically to your booth to show that people are buying cookies. Remember those signs under McDonald's logos that listed the number of millions of burgers sold? You could also use your handy whiteboard with a "Number of boxes sold" to give social proof that people are buying. Once you've sold at least 40% of your goal, you could also list what your goal is so that potential customers can see that they can help you reach your goal.
One final strategy I will leave you with will help you "upsell" your customers, potentially turning a sale of one or two boxes into several. This will take a little bit more work on your part, but it is also a great way to develop your statistics skills. What you want to do is collect data on not just how many boxes you sell, but how many each customer buys. Then calculate (and re-calculate as you get more data) what the average number of boxes is. For the following examples, I'm going to assume the average is 4 boxes because I don't have data to work with. When a customer says she wants 3, you could point out that the "typical purchase is 4 boxes." If a customer just wants 2 boxes, you might say, "The average customer buys 4 boxes, are you sure you don't want at least 3?" If a customer asks for 4 boxes and gushes about how she loves those Thin Mints, you could say, "The average customer buys 4 boxes, but I don't think you're an average buyer. Are you sure you don't want one more for the road?" You should also calculate the median and the mode and you can use those interchangeably depending on what those numbers are.
Selling is an art and a skill, and like so many things, you get better with practice. Hopefully you'll be able to employ some of the above tactics and share with your troop what worked well for you (or not, if you want to secure your spot as the top seller). You're not just pawning sweet snacks off on unsuspecting passerbys, you're developing valuable skills in selling and influencing that will help you in your life and career.
Also, this author accepts gifts of gratitude in the form of Thin Mints.