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The Closer: A Cookie-Selling Champ Shares Sales Secrets

By Brittani Howell Herald-Times, Bloomington, Ind.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The Girl Scouts national organization says the annual cookie sale is "a powerful entrepreneurship incubator" for girls and young women to develop business skills.

Herald-Times, Bloomington, Ind.

Courtlyn Bales-Hall has a plan when Girl Scout cookie time rolls around.

She consults a spreadsheet of last year's customers. Then, with her parents' help, the 13-year-old visits as many as she can.

She stops by their houses three times before she switches tactics and gives them a phone call. Courtlyn prefers visiting them in person; she knows a more personal touch sells cookies.

"If you sell someone something, you have to make a connection with them," she said Tuesday. "I really feel that is the basis of selling anything. You should talk to them and really get to know them, because if you get to know them, they're going to enjoy their product more."

She enjoys catching up with her customers, remembering where they live, what kind of cookies they like and even the names of their pets.

Her strategy works. When it comes to the Girl Scout cookie, Courtlyn is a top marketer; one year, she sold 3,000 boxes.

The Girl Scouts of America started in 1912, and now has 2.6 million members. Every year, they sell cookies to raise money for their activities and projects, from community service to camping trips to travel abroad.

Girl Scouts will be taking cookie orders starting Saturday, with sales ending in March. You'll start seeing them for sale in entryways at grocery stores and other places around town starting next month.

Cookies are $5 per box, and this year's selection includes Do-si-dos, S'mores, Samoas, Savannah Smiles, Tagalongs, Thin Mints, Toffee-tastic and Trefoils.

More than a fundraiser, the Girl Scouts national organization says the cookie sale is "a powerful entrepreneurship incubator" for girls and young women to develop business skills.

"Given that over half (53 percent) of female entrepreneurs and business owners are Girl Scout alums, supporting Girl Scouts as they make sales and learn essential business skills is imperative to ensuring our country has a strong workforce and economy," said a press release from Penni Sims at Girl Scouts of Central Indiana.

The central Indiana organization has 29,000 members and more than 11,000 adult volunteers. Last year, the scouts in the region sold more than 3 million boxes of cookies. More than 125,000 of them were sold by Girl Scouts from Monroe County. When the cookie-selling profits come in, troop members decide what they want to do with the money and create a budget to allocate the funds.

Courtlyn has been selling cookies since she was in kindergarten, and the annual endeavor has taught her a lot. She used to be shy around people she didn't know, but not anymore. She cares about serving her community and donating to worthy causes, which the cookie fundraiser has allowed her troop to do. And enjoys the entrepreneurial side, and can boast that she has sold more than 10,000 boxes of the special cookies.

"I work very hard for it," she said. "One of the biggest achievements, I think, is turning someone's 'no' into a 'yes.'"

If a potential customer declines because they're on a diet or staying away from sugar, Courtlyn suggests other options: buy a box to donate to Operation Cookie Drop, which sends them to soldiers, law enforcement officials and local food banks. The cookies become donations, and the troop gets to keep part of the proceeds. Courtlyn has closed many sales that way.

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