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Conversion Optimization, Lead Generation, Sales & the Girl Scouts

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 2/24/12 1:56 PM

What the Girl Scouts Taught Me About Sales, Leads and Branding

social selling and brand  girl scouts example resized 600When I was of a certain age, I was a Girl Scout. I actually started as a Brownie in kindergarten and continued on through middle school. I think it was my mom's way of keeping me out of trouble (well, she tried).

But I did learn a lot. My clearest memory is the 1984 Cookie Marathon. There was a big prize involved (I forget what, a trip I think), and I had made it my goal to win. 

There were lots of meetings involved; what to say to get people interested, what to say when people asked you questions, how to get orders for cookies, etc. We had scripts, brochures and order forms.

I realize now it was selling 101. 

I sold a lot of cookies that year. I didn't win the contest, but I was the second highest in cookie sales in my troop. Most of my sales were from family and friends of my family, those were the easiest and largest orders. A few were from people I didn't know, those were the smallest and hardest to get. Here's 2 examples I remember and how it relates to what I now know about conversion optimization, lead generation and sales.

The Value of Brand Confidence in the Sales Process

When I brought my cookie order form to my aunt Susan, and asked her to order some, she replied (without a pause), "Why should I buy cookies from you?" I was floored. What did she mean- why? She was my aunt! So that is what I said to her. "You should buy them because you are my aunt and you love me?" She laughed and bought 5 boxes. I used that line on every family member I asked.

Bottomline: brand confidence is an important factor in how successful your web presence and inbound sales will be. You develop this through word of mouth and the impact of the offline and online marketing effort.

Social selling means that they know you and love you. And for just that reason, some will buy from you. 

This is why it is so critical for growing companies to create loyal customer evangelists that are your brand's voice.

The Value of the Customer Experience in Lead Generation

The second experience; my mom worked as a manager at a local restaurant. It was not usual to see me or my sister at the bar with paper umbrellas in our Shirley Temples with lots of cherries. Because there were regulars who came in, mom suggested I bring my cookie order to see if any would order some.

(Imagine that scene- you head to your favorite bar after work and a Girl Scout starts asking you to buy cookies. Weird? Nah....)

Needless to say, I got some annoyed looks. I also got a free Shirley Temple (bribery to get me to go away.) One guy, a lawyer, stuck in mind. As soon as I approached him, he said;

"What are you selling?"

Well... ummm, see there is this contest and...

"You are selling me a contest?!"

No! I'm in a contest and...

"And why should I care about your contest?"

Um, well, that is what I am trying to tell you! See these cookies....

"Cookies? Where are they? Can I get a sample?"

I don't have them WITH ME. You have to order them.

"So you want me to give you money and I have to wait for the cookies? And I don't even know if I will like them?"

I guess so...

"Ok, so how much?"

2.25 a box, plus tax.

"What!? I can go to the grocery store and get 2x the cookies and I don't have to wait."

Needless to say, I stuck with family members after that. 

Bottomline: There are environmental factors (like being in a bar) and conditional factors (like competition, product relevance, and trying to sell Girl Scout cookies in a bar) that are part of the customer experience and will impact your ability to increase sales. 

Had I been a more experienced sales and marketing person as a Girl Scout, I would have anticipated that I would need to adjust my approach to account for these factors;

  1. This guy had no idea who I was. There was no brand confidence. In fact, the Girl Scout brand recognition I had actually worked against me given the environmental factor of being in a bar.
  2. If I had known the first thing, then maybe I would have been able to plan my approach better because I understood his expected personal experience.
So here is the question you should be asking yourself. How does my brand factor into my target customer's buying process? How much does their person experience factor into their buying process? What environmental and conditional factors are effecting the conversion?
And how do you plan and develop the sales and marketing approach given that customer, web visitors, control the experience and the definition of your brand?

Topics: sales, lead generation, conversion optimization, social selling