By:  Chris Chariton

I’m the mother of two Girl Scouts and every year I face the challenge
of selling cookies.  The Girl Scouts don’t mess around with cookie
selling.  There are sales goals for each girl based on previous year
sales and of course the goal increases each year.  And let’s not forget
sales incentives (prizes) are available to the girls based on volume
sold.  Sound a little like your sales organization?

Sales quotas proved particularly challenging the first year both my daughters were eligible to sell cookies.  And when there is a Girl Scout living in every third house on your street, door-to-door selling is not going to cut it. Cookie sales end up falling to the parents.  My strategy is to sell them at work – not as easy as it sounds when I’m not the only parent at work with a Girl Scout. 

I used my marketing skills, combined with putting on the sales hat, to come up with a strategy to essentially hit my daughter’s sales targets, earn the adulation of my children and ease my working mother guilt. 

When I first started selling cookies at work I did the usual thing – place a sign-up sheet by the coffee.  But when the challenge of selling for two children vs. one came along I knew I had to do something different.  Lesson one: if you aren’t meeting your sales goals, you need to re-evaluate your strategy and execution plan. 

I stepped back and assessed my marketing plan.  The marketplace was defined as my co-workers – to me, this was the most efficient use of my time. But the competitive landscape had become more crowded with others selling the same product also to people they knew.  Sign-up sheets around work weren’t going to cut it.  So I selectively targeted individuals that I felt represented the best potential prospects.  I had three target groups:  people I knew well, people who owed me and people who bought before.   And I approached those individuals with a tailored call.

Buyers buy and I actually keep track of who has bought in previous years and pay particular attention to the volume buyers.  Those people I reach out to with a personalized email and an in-person visit.  I refer to them as (you guessed it) my valued customers.  I make it clear that I’m not reaching out to everyone and they are part of an exclusive club.

Even for people I know well, I reached out to them with a customized approach – playing on the sales quota goals to the Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, pushing the low-fat cookies to the dieters and suggesting to one person that the cookies could be used at meetings to get people to show up.  Since my plan is heavily focused on repeat buyers I pay close attention to post-sale CRM by personally delivering the boxes with a thank you note and picture from my children.  Another key selling point; even if you are selling a commodity-type product, you want to differentiate yourself from the competition. 

In summary the things I found to be true about selling cookies and sales and marketing in general:

  • Define and segment your market
  • A targeted, segmented approach can yield more results than a generic market blitz
  • Tailor your message and offer
  • Differentiate yourself and your product or service
  • Pay attention to CRM – your best customers are your loyal, repeat customers
  • Analyze your results and change your strategy if you aren’t achieving your goals


  1. I can relate, Chris. My mother was a District Chairman for Girl Scouts here in Chicago, back in the 1950’s. Our entire apartment building’s basement was filled each year with CARTONS of cookies. My first encounter with mass marketing!
    Hope your girls did as well as you!
    Make new friends but keep the old, for one is silver, while the other is gold! OK, show of hands, who remembers that song?

  2. I’m more inclined to buy cookies from an appealing and polite girl. While most little girls are intrinsically likeable, adults are not necessarily so. A seller must develop some basic personal rapport with a potential buyer or the sale effort is all uphill.

Leave a Reply