Who knew I could find small business sales secrets In the bone-chilling weather of an Illinois February, on a suburban street? Joe and Tonia Elkins took turns huddling in the car to warm up. They were escorting eight-year-old daughter Savannah on her Girl Scout cookie sales route. In the twilight, the little girl trekked from house to house never once returning to the vehicle. She was on a mission, as they say, with a clear goal: to sell 250 boxes of girl scout cookies.
“I was surprised at her persistence and drive,” said Mom, Tonia, about the third-grader. “It was so cold. Even on days when she wasn’t feeling well, she insisted on working at the cookie booth, too. She wouldn’t miss a thing.”
Does figuring out sales techniques give you information overload?
Every day, authors print, tweet, and blog on small business marketing and small business sales topics; it’s tough to keep up.
To get back to the basics, I took a few quick lessons from this mini-marketing powerhouse.
Persistence + Age-Old Strategy = Small Business Sales Success
Savannah obviously possessed the persistence of a sales person. However, she also had learned sales and marketing strategy to go along with it.
Well, why not? She was an old hand at selling, with several years of experience under her Girl Scout tunic. She had entered school–and Brownies—early and been developing her sales and marketing skills since the ripe old age of four.
In this interview, in her own words, she invites us to learn from her experience.
Savannah’s Seven Secrets of Superior Small Business Sales: Let’s Talk
Do you like to talk to people about, and to sell the cookies?
“(Even though) I’m kind of shy, . . . I do like it.”
Secret #1–Ask for the sale: Savannah’s first secret is to overcome fear and shyness and simply ask for the sale. She admits she’s shy—but asks for the sales anyway. I’ll admit that this can be the hardest part of small business selling for me. I’ll provide all the information on my service and sometimes I blow it by not asking for the sale.
Did you have a goal, a number of boxes, that you wanted to sell?
“(My goal was) 250 Boxes and I BEAT IT, too! (I did it) and earned the $25 Walmart gift card.” Originally Savannah’s goal was much higher, but Mom encouraged her to set a more realistic sales goal.
Secret #2–Set a clearly defined reasonable sales goal; expected success breeds motivation: Her second strategy was to set a sales goal that could be reached within the allotted time frame. After setting her sights too high, she more reasonably chose to sell 250 boxes so that she would receive a concrete reward for reaching her goal. How about you? Do you set reasonable monthly and quarterly sales goals? What happens when you don’t reach them? Can you lower your sales goals, reward yourself, and try for slightly higher goal next quarter? Success breeds motivation.
Do you have secrets for selling cookies?
Secret #3—Know your marketing strengths, and use them: Okay. At age eight, Savannah has obviously received feedback that we may not get. But, she understands what works for her and then uses it.
Which methods or aspects of your personality work for you in small business sales and marketing? Can you make a list of your last ten sales and under what circumstances they occurred? How do you best connect with your customers?
“And I know about the cookies since I’ve been doing it for four years.”
Secret #4–Have thorough product knowledge and the ability to convey those benefits to your customers: Savannah knows her product–those cookies. I personally didn’t know that there are twenty kinds of Girl Scout cookies available. But Savannah’s customers did know it and they tested her knowledge.
“One lady we didn’t know said she liked to hear the girls pitch their own sales. She told me Savannah definitely knew her stuff,” said Mom.
Likewise, you know your business; however, when someone asks you in-depth questions about a product or service you offer, can you clearly explain these details? And in a manner that focuses on the benefits your customers will receive? This moves you toward closing the sale.
“I know good neighborhoods to sell at. Go to the same places every year, they remember you.”
Secret #5–Understand your target market. Concentrate on repeat business: Savannah realizes where her target markets are geographically. And she knows repeat business is good business. Customers you have done business with before are good customers the second—or third– time around.
“Choose a neighborhood where a relative lives. A lot of people only buy from you if you live on that street–or know someone who lives there.”
Secret #6–People buy from people they know and like. And through referrals: Savannah also understands that cold calling is tough. She didn’t sell in just any neighborhood–she knew it was better to sell to those folks in her own neighborhood first because they knew her personally. Then she moved on to work referrals. Her referral business came from going to neighborhoods where her relatives lived. “Hi, I am Savannah, your neighbor Brittany’s niece.” Smart, huh?
How do you work this strategy? Is everyone you know personally aware of your product line or service? Are you expanding your potential customer base by using friends of friends? How so?
Savannah, what is your favorite part of selling cookies?
“Making the customers happy giving them their cookies.”
Secret #7–At the end of the day, it’s keeping your customers happy that counts. Savannah is a natural because she truly enjoys the relationships she builds with her customers when she delivers the cookies. Are your customers happy with your product or services? Are you sure? Are you asking? How?
Next time I feel overwhelmed with a barrage of information on sales and marketing, I’ll remember I don’t need to know everything. I’ll just remember Savannah’s tips;
and–this cutie is my great-niece!
Getting back to basics clears my mind and boosts my business.