Selling Girl Scout Cookies

A few weekends ago, I had the good fortune of spending 3 hours with my eight year old daughter at the local mall. This trip was different because our mission was to sell Girl Scout cookies.

I have sold many things in my life but never Girl Scout cookies. What happens before we arrive is where the story gets interesting. I could not help but notice her preparation for the day. She got up early, did a quick inventory of her supplies and then proceeded to pack the car. In many ways, it was remarkably similar to my early days as a wide-eyed rookie sales rep. I was going to light the world on fire! At least, I thought so.

During breakfast, she discusses her strategy for selling 40 boxes of cookies. WOW! At this point, it hits me like a sledgehammer. My eight year is laying out a plan for the day which includes her strategy, tactics and goal. I could not help but wonder where all this was coming from as I had not seen her so focused.

We proceed to the mall to set up our table directly in the center of the mall. I find myself a bit uncomfortable standing directly in the path of would-be shoppers. I feel exposed as I am not sure what to expect. I have been in sales for over 15 years and I am actually nervous about selling Girl Scout cookies. Ouch! I notice that I am tapping my right foot on the leg of table as I feel my anxiety level rising. I experienced this same feeling on a consistent basis my first year in sales. It was how I felt when I was tasked to make a sales call on that “buyer” who had a reputation for berating sales reps in public. I am sure many of you can relate to that feeling of helplessness.

In this case, I was lucky because my sales manager (my daughter) was there to provide a much needed pep talk. She came over to me, gave me a hug and told me to relax and just do what she does. A sense of relief comes over me and I settle into a nice rhythm. We anxiously wait for shoppers (prospects) to walk by so that we can ask them to buy a box of cookies. I am struck by how rude so many people are as some do their best to avoid making eye contact. Again, not much different from how many prospects treat sales people. My daughter keeps plugging away and just keeps asking people if they are interested in supporting the Girl Scouts. She keeps a smile on her face and stays at it to reach her goal. At certain points, I feel dejected until I look over at her and see that she is still smiling waiting for the next person to walk by.

The day was a wake-up call of sorts for me; it was a reminder of what it often feels like to sell a product, concept, idea and/or your brand. For many of us, we cut our teeth by making cold calls which was not that much different from selling Girl Scout cookies in terms of our approach. Instead of standing in the mall, we strategically placed ourselves in the hallway, outside an office or anywhere else so that we could see when “that buyer” was on their way and headed in our direction. We just happened to be in that particular area so we could introduce ourselves. It is funny what sales people will do to make contact with a prospect. In this case, we proceed to discuss our solution, its benefits and see if they would be interested in meeting with us in their office. I am not so sure it was the best way to facilitate a conversation, but it certainly seemed to work more often than not.

I suspect that there are plenty of brave souls out there right now waiting to make one more cold call. The uneasy feeling, unsure of what to say and when to say it is quite an experience. It certainly tests your psyche. Like my daughter, just keep smiling, keep asking and you too may reach your goals!

Girls’ Night In

I had the privilege of being invited to the home of my 86 year old neighbor. Her objective was to teach me how to make her delicious Scottish shortbread cookies. What fun we had measuring, stirring, chatting and baking. She is an incredible woman and I discovered that night that it doesn’t take a lot of effort to plan an enjoyable girls’ night in.

In this fast paced world, we often forget just how amazing simplicity can be. Some of the best moments in life are remembered fondly because they were spent building relationships, enjoying each other’s company, and discovering the histories that shaped us and the dreams that propel us forward.

So, the next time you’re searching for the perfect activity to share with your friends, why not keep it simple and invite them over for an evening of baking, cooking, scrapbooking or any other activity or hobby you all enjoy. Learn from each other and enhance the depth of your friendships.

I wish you could all meet my 86 year old neighbor, but since you can’t, I’ll share with you what she shared with me… her recipe for Scottish shortbread cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup fruit sugar
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 2 cups sifted all purpose flour

Instructions:

  • Cream butter and sugar together.
  • Add rice flour and stir to a creamy consistency.
  • Gradually work in the flour (using a sifter).
  • Knead the mixture till smooth.
  • Note: You may not need all of the flour. When there is about 1/4 of a cup of flour left, start kneading the mixture so that you will be able to feel when the dough changes from too wet to just right.
  • Heat the oven to 300 degrees.
  • Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and pat each piece into its own 8 inch foil pie plate.
  • Run a knife around the edge of the dough about an eighth of an inch from the sides.
  • Precut the dough into the number of slices/pieces you would like to have upon completion (You will use these same lines to cut the cookies out after baking.
  • Prick each piece several times with a fork.
  • Bake for 20 minutes and then turn the oven down to 275 degrees.
  • Bake for 25-40 minutes to complete (depending on your baking pans and oven).
  • Remove from oven, cut, cool and enjoy with a hot beverage and good friends.

Note: You can make these cookies in other pans and cut them into different shapes and sizes. What you MUST get right is the texture of the dough and the pierce marks before baking. Also, be careful not to overbake.

Keep it Simple! Make it Fun!

Girl Scout Cookies Have a Long and Delicious History

Girl Scout cookies have been around more than 90 years. It’s been quite a wild — and delicious — ride!

The Earliest Girl Scout Cookies Were Homemade

Girl Scout Cookies started out in the kitchens of the girl scout members with mothers volunteering as technical advisers. The sale of cookies as a way to raise money for troop activities began as early as 1917, on the brink of the first World War and just five years after Juliette Gordon Low created the Girl Scouts.

Sensing a good thing, in 1922 the official Girl Scouts magazine, American Girl, included a cookie recipe that was given to the council’s 2,000 Girl Scouts. It put the cost of ingredients for six- to seven-dozen cookies at 26 to 36 cents. The cookies could then be sold by troops for 25 or 30 cents per dozen to raise money.

Through the 1920s and 1930s, Girl Scout cookies continued to be made in the homes. These cookies were packaged in wax paper bags, sealed with a sticker, and sold door to door for 25 to 35 cents per dozen.

From the Girl Scout’s Website here is one of those early recipes:

AN EARLY GIRL SCOUT COOKIE RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar plus additional amount for topping (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder

Directions:

  1. Cream butter and the cup of sugar
  2. Add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. Roll dough, cut into trefoil shapes.
  5. Sprinkle sugar on top, if desired.
  6. Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

Makes six- to seven-dozen cookies.

Out of the Kitchens

In 1933 Philadelphia Girl Scouts baked cookies and sold them in the city’s gas and electric company windows. This proved so successful that in 1934 Greater Philadelphia became the first council to sell commercially baked cookies.

In 1935 the Girl Scout Federation of Greater New York followed suit. Buying its own die in the shape of a trefoil, the group used the words Girl Scout Cookies on the box.

In 1936 the national Girl Scout organization began to license the first commercial bakers to produce cookies that would be sold by girls in Girl Scout councils. The love of Girl Scout Cookies soon spread nationwide.

During World War II, when sugar, flour and butter were in short supply, Girl Scouts sold calendars to raise money for their activities.

After the War the scouts went back to the beloved cookies and by 1948 a total of 29 bakers throughout the nation were baking Girl Scout Cookies. At this time they came in just three varieties: Sandwich, Shortbread and the every popular Chocolate Mints (now known as Thin Mints). The 1950’s and 60’s brought the suburb and shopping malls giving the girls a new venue to sell their cookies.

Baby boomers swelled the Girl Scout membership in the 1960’s as well as cookie sales. In 1960, bakers first began wrapping Girl Scout Cookie boxes in printed aluminum foil or cellophane to protect the cookies and preserve their freshness and in 1966 Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies were added.

Girl Scout Cookies are Still Delicious Today

In the fall of 2000 new box designs were introduced which show girls having fun and growing strong. A maximum of eight varieties are made by each baker including three mandatory ones (Thin Mint, Peanut Butter Sandwich, and Shortbread).

When you see the girls outside a grocery, at the mall or at you door, buy a box or three. It supports a good cause and carries on a proud — and delicious — tradition.

From Wikipedia — The best selling Girl Scout cookies are:

  • Thin Mints (25% of total sales)
  • Caramel DeLites or Samoas (19%)
  • Peanut Butter Patties or Tagalongs (13%)
  • Peanut Butter Sandwiches or Do-si-dos (11%)
  • Shortbread or Trefoils (9%)