An interesting thing happen to me this last weekend as I went to the grocery store after church. I found a great teaching moment for all Scouts. Before I tell you what happened, let me tell you more about the normal experience at Show and Sell.
We have a standing policy in our household which we have had for the past 17 years. I will buy popcorn from every Scout in a well-kept uniform who asks me. I have announced this at Council Kickoffs, Committee Meetings and other Scouting functions throughout the country. I find it amazing that I have never had a Scout knock on my door to sell me popcorn. But, I digress.
I expect when I go to a grocery store over the weekend during the Popcorn Sale, I will see a Scout at the door and I plan to buy. I acknowledge the Scout by saying ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Good Afternoon’, and I expect them to do the same. I do this to help the less experienced Scout build confidence. Oftentimes, a Scout feels more confident about selling to a person they know than a total stranger. For many Scouts a simple ‘Good Morning’ is enough for them to feel they know the person.
If they ask me to buy popcorn as I am walking in the store I tell the Scout to ask me as I leave. The main reason is I do not carry much cash on me and I am not prepared to buy at that point. I will get cash back in the store. In addition, it is important to teach the Scout to be courteous to all the customers entering the grocery store. We want to be able to use this same location next year. Many stores have a policy that customers can only be asked by a not-for-profit as they leave the store so as to not make their customers uncomfortable. Check with your particular location.
I always ask the Scout several questions. I ask what the money is for and what his goal is. I feel it is important for him to know why he is selling popcorn. I then ask what his favorite item is. This tends to get them talking more and again builds their confidence. Finally, I ask them if there is something they would recommend. I typically buy an item between $10 and $20 dollars based on how well they answer the questions.
Now to what happened this weekend.
My family walks up to the grocery store after church in our ‘Sunday Best’. At the front entrance was a Tiger Scout and his father with a small selection of items on a table. I say ‘Good Morning’ and the father nods his head. The Tiger Cub did not know I was there. That is to be expected as it was probably toward the last half of a shift and Scouts at that age do not typically have a long an attention span. We went into the store to buy what we needed before the football game started. I got cash back so I was prepared to buy an item as we left.
As we walked out the door, I looked at the father and son directly in the eye waiting for them to ask me to buy popcorn. However, neither of them said a thing. I hesitated to give them a second chance, but the father just nodded his head with is hands behind his back behind the table. The Tiger Cub just stood there. My wife asks them how they were doing and the father said “OK.” That was it. Neither one ask us to buy popcorn. I looked at my wife and we went to the car to go home.
The moral to the story is the Scout must ask for the sale. It is not enough to just show up and expect things to happen. One must make things happen. Most sales training seminars talk about finishing the sale by “Making the Ask”. Even the most experienced sales person will not get the sale if they do not ask for it. A Scout needs to finish the sales process and ask for the business. For ideas on how to ask, please read my previous blog.
Good luck and finish strong.