How to Teach Youth to Sell – Create a Sales Plan


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)


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