Month: May 2014

How to Teach Youth to Sell – Create a Sales Pitch (Marketing)

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sales_transaction_colored_6641This is a fourth of a six-part series on how to teach youth to sell. While we are using Boy Scout Popcorn Sales as the example in this series, these steps can be used in any sale.

Part 1 – Discover the Goal
Part 2 – Know your product
Part 3 – Create a Sales Plan
Part 4 – Create a pitch (Marketing)
Part 5 – Overcome objections
Part 6 – Close

Most businesses tend to think of sales and marketing as the same thing. If fact, many organizations have these two functions in the same department. This cannot be further from the truth. While they are interconnected, they are two different functions. Let’s first look at the sales pitch.

Sales Pitch

A sales pitch is a planned presentation of a product or service essentially designed to introduce a product or service to an audience and close the sale.

This is also known as the “elevator pitch”. This pitch should be no longer than it takes to ride an elevator.  Typically this is between 30 and 45 seconds. The elevator pitch should have these five elements:

  • Introduction
  • What you are selling
  • Why you are selling it
  • Ask the customer to take action
  • Close

These foundations are in the scripts below. It is important to follow the scripts and instructions to the letter. The psychology behind each script is also below.

Sample Door-to-Door Script

“Hi, my name is _______________ (say first name only).

I’m a Scout with Pack/Troop _________ here in _________ (city).

I am selling popcorn to help raise money to go to Scout Camp (or other major activity). By buying popcorn today, you’ll be helping me earn my own way to camp next summer and do fun things with my Pack/Troop all year long.

(Hand the customer the Take Order form and a pen and point out your favorite item. Make sure it is a $20 or more item).

You’ll help me, won’t you?”

There is some psychology to script above.

It is important to introduce yourself to the customer.  People respond better if they have a name to the face.  It makes the interaction feel more personal.  In addition, identifying the Unit and City is important.  It makes the customer feel as if it is their local Unit they are supporting.

The next part speaks to why the Scout is selling popcorn. People are more likely to purchase a fundraising product if they know the reason why the Scout is selling.  More about this can be seen in this previous blog.

Handing the order form to the customer is important.  Again, people are more likely to purchase popcorn if they have the order form in their hand.  I have seen a Scout put his ‘vision board’ of what he wants to do at camp on an iPad. He hands the customer the order form while he goes through his presentation.

Next, it is important to point out the Scouts favorite product on the form and hand them the pen.  It lets the customer have confidence the Scout knows the items and leads the customer to a specific product.  We will see more about this later.

Finally, the closing is vitally important. People do not like to be sold anything.  However, people generally are willing to help a person in need.  This line brings the focus away from the product itself and back to the Scout at the door. The customer is more likely to say ‘Yes’.

Sample Show and Deliver Script

“Hi, my name is _______________ (say first name only).

I’m a Scout with Pack/Troop _________ here in _________ (city).

We are selling popcorn to help raise money to go to Scout Camp (or other major activity). By buying popcorn today, you’ll be helping us earn our way to camp next summer and do fun things with our Pack/Troop all year-long.

I happen to have this item on me today (Hand the customer the Take Order form) or you can get any other item and I will deliver it in on __________.

You’ll help us, won’t you?”

This script is only modified slightly by adding the line about having a certain product on them.  People are far more likely to purchase the product a Scout has on them then have to wait for the product.  This also helps the person aiding the Scout transport the product around by having only a limited number of products on hand.  Limit this to 2-3 items maximum.  I actually prefer having only one item. Make sure these items are $20 or more in value.  People are willing to help the Scout, but most want to do this at the lowest possible amount.

Sample Show and Sell Script

“Excuse me ma’am/sir.

Hi, my name is _______________ (say first name only).

I’m a Scout with Pack/Troop _________ here in _________ (city).

I am selling popcorn to help raise money to go to Scout Camp. By buying popcorn today, you’ll be helping me earn my way to camp next summer and do fun things with my Pack/Troop all year-long.

This product is my favorite (Point out an item $20 or higher).

You’ll help me, won’t you?”

Again, it is important to have the Scout lead with a higher dollar item.  A person can always go down to a lower price item, but they are more likely to purchase the item they are showed first.


To prepare Scouts to sell popcorn, adult leaders and parents should help Scouts develop their own “elevator pitch” or script with the above elements to share with customers.


In Units with which I am associated, I have them practice the script at the Pack or Troop Meeting as part of the Popcorn Kickoff. They must have it memorized. By the end of the meeting, Scouts must be able to recite the script as fast as they can to an adult on hand.   If they can deliver the script at lightning speed, I know they have the script internalized and not panic in front of person they do not know.

With Cub Scouts, I try to find a Kickoff location which has multiple doors like a school. I have Cub Scouts, in pairs, actually knock on the door and perform their script. When they deliver it correctly they get a small token to be used later in the kickoff. One example I have seen is a pirate theme at the kickoff where they get a ‘gold coin’ when the Cub Scouts get the script correct. They then redeem the coins for an ice cream sandwich or other item at the end of the meeting.

In Boy Scout Troops, I have used more experienced Scouts teach the younger Scouts the script. Then they run a ‘relay race’ where each person in the patrol must deliver the script as fast as they can with the winning group getting a reward.


The first element of marketing is people must know about your product. This is one reason companies spend over $4 Million for a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl. This seems like a lot but with over 112 million people watching, the cost is relatively cheap at 3.5 cents per person.

This brings up two questions:

  • What is the ‘product’ you are selling?
  • How much does your Unit or Scout spend to let others know you’re selling popcorn?

Focus on Scouting instead of the popcorn. The ‘vision boards’ help Scouts on an individual level. If you are selling at a storefront, create a large poster with photos of all the activities your Unit did last year. Make sure to include service events like Scouting for Food or planting flags to remember veterans during the holidays. In addition, place pictures of what you want to do next year including the camp you want to attend.

Avoid asking if they would like to ‘Buy Popcorn’.  If they just wanted to buy popcorn, they could get it cheaper in a store. People buy popcorn to support Scouting and the Scout in front of them.

Advertising your Unit is an important and often overlooked part of marketing. If you have secured a storefront location, ask them if you can put up a poster the week prior letting their customers know you will be there next weekend. Many communities have gone to mailboxes grouped together to help the post office. These are a great places for a poster letting the community know your Unit is selling popcorn in their neighborhood on a particular weekend (Blitz Day).

Many newspapers and television stations will allow a Public Service Announcement (PSA) letting the community know the Boy Scouts are selling popcorn. Smaller communities with a television station have a distinct advantage because they will run a story during their morning and/or evening news about your popcorn sale.

Finally, social media can be used to deliver the message about your Unit’s sale. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other avenues can expand your reach in letting others know about your Unit’s sale.

Sales and Marketing are the components which help deliver success to your popcorn sale. Make sure your Scouts practice their script and know it by heart. Find every method possible to expose as many people to the sale as possible. Create and deliver enthusiasm about all the parts of the pitch and your Scouts will be able to fully participate in the Scouting program.

Part 5 – Overcome objections


How to Teach Youth to Sell – Create a Sales Plan

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This is a third of a six-part series on how to teach youth to sell. While we are using Boy Scout Popcorn Sales as the example in this series, these steps can be used in any sale.

Part 1 – Discover the Goal
Part 2 – Know your product
Part 3 – Create a Sales Plan
Part 4 – Create a pitch (Marketing)
Part 5 – Overcome objections
Part 6 – Close

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” This concept is certainly evident when it comes to selling any item. Below are the steps to create a sales plan.

Step 1 – Set a Sales Goal

Requirement 3 of the Salesmanship Merit Badge states, “Write and present a sales plan for a product or service and a sales territory assigned by your counselor.”

The first part of any plan is to know your goal. There are a couple of items Scout families need to know in order to determine their sales goal.

  • Total Cost of their Unit’s Annual Program
  • Commission Percent they receive from the sale of popcorn
  • How much the Scout family is willing to contribute to pay for their Scouting expenses

On average nationwide, a Cub Scout’s Annual Program costs including camp is $230 annually. For Boy Scouts the amount including camp is $580. I understand your Unit may be different. This amount varies depending on the specific activities of your Unit and what part of the country in which you live. However, for our example, we will use these numbers.

Next, find out from your Unit how much Scouts are credited for their participation in the sale. Most Units nationwide receive between 30% – 40% commission on sales of popcorn. Some Units take the total commission received and lower the cost of the program evenly for everyone hopefully paying for everything. Other Units credit all or a portion of the proceeds toward a Scout’s activities. While the National Office discourages Scout Accounts, I understand many Units still use this practice. Find out how much your Unit allocates for each Scout.

My son’s Boy Scout Troop keeps the first 10% of commissions from the popcorn sale to pay for awards, camp stove fuel, and campsite reservations. The Scout then gets the rest to pay down summer camp, winter camp and other events like National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT), National Jamboree or National Order of the Arrow Conference. Last year, because the Unit received 40% commission overall, Scouts received 30% to pay for these items. We will use 30% in our example.

The formula for determining how much is needed in total sales to cover all Scouting expenses is below:

(Total Program Costs – Family Contribution) / Commission Percentage

Assuming the Scout family wants to pay for everything with the popcorn sale and using the numbers for a Boy Scout Unit above we get ($580 – 0) /30% = $1933 Gross Sales

I have an arrangement with my son where he has to pay for half of camp or any special event. The camp his Troop is going to costs $265.50 so he has to earn half the money and I pay the other half or $132.75. Putting this into the formula above give us ($580 – $132.75) / 30% = $1490 Gross Sales. Because of this, he set a goal of $1500.

Step 2 – Drill into the numbers

So the next question is how does he sell $1500? It is time to drill down and see how it is done. We will need more information.

We need to know how much the Scout sells per hour using different methods.

We know in our area the average Scout at a Show and Sell earns $45/hour. We take the total sales at storefronts including dollars collected for Military Orders and divide it by the total man hours worked. We have at least two Scouts at each site. In reality our Unit sells about $90/hour and this amount is split between the two Scouts. This $45 figure has been within pennies over the last three years. It is important you figure out this number in your area. Using this method alone a Scout would have to sell at a storefront for 33.33 hours. While this is the easiest for most families to do, it is not likely to get them all the way there.

Now let’s look at Door-to-Door

I ask all the Scouts to go door-to-door for one hour in their neighborhood before Show and Sell to establish a baseline for dollars per hour sold. I ask them to record the amount they sold and how many houses they visited. Normally a Scout will sell at least $100 in this hour and ask 10 houses. To hit the $1500 goal the Scout above would need to sell for 15 hours to reach his goal by visiting 150 houses. These numbers are typical in our neighborhood. Find out what these numbers are in your area. Set a blitz day where all of the Scouts in your Unit go out for 1-2 hours and gather back at a designated spot. You could give rewards for the most customers asked or the most sold during the blitz. This accomplishes two things: establishing the baseline and kick-starting your Scouts getting to their goal.

It is important to break this down to either number of hours needed to work or number of houses asked. It will help a Scout understand not everyone will buy but if one says no the likelihood of the next house saying yes goes up. It is a numbers game.

The Scouts in my son’s troop tend to use a combination of the two methods above and sell online as well. The average Scout if they send out 10 emails will sell $100 online.

3. Write it down

Now that Scouts know how much they need and how long it will take them, it is time to set time aside to complete the plan. Set scheduled times with the Scout to complete the number of houses he needs to hit and arrange the time slot to sell in front of stores. Break down the goal for each day whether it is houses, dollars or hours. If the Scout reaches the goal for the day have a mini reward. My son likes to get hot chocolate or a brownie at Starbucks after selling for 2 hours.

The one thing we have learned is to have a map of the area and check off those we have asked circling the ones who were not home. We then go back to the same neighborhood another day and hit the house we missed earlier. By going to the same community, people begin to recognize the ‘Scout in their neighborhood’ and it makes it easier the next time.

By setting your goal, drilling into the numbers and writing it down, Scouts will be far ahead of most of the others in their Council. There are stories of studies done at Harvard and Yale regarding students having written goals earning ten times as much as those who did not. While I have not been able to confirm these studies, I am sure having written goals are a good habit to teach our youth.

Part 4 – Create a pitch (Marketing)