The World’s Toughest Girl Scout

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Jennifer Sharpe can kick your butt.

Jennifer, at least at the time I wrote this, is or was a 15-year-old Girl Scout from Dearborn, Michigan. Girl Scouts, as I’m sure you know, have sold cookies for decades.  – from the chocolate mint wafers to those puffy marshmallow things – for decades.

Maybe you’ve even bought a few of their chocolate mint wafers or those puffy marshmallow things yourself. If you live in Dearborn, however, there’s a chance you’ve bought a lot of them.

Especially if you live in Jennifer’s neighborhood.

See, Jennifer sold not just 10 or 100 or even 1,000 boxes of cookies, but a stunning 17,328 boxes. How did she do it? Apparently, just by showing up.

According to MSNBC – and her mother – Jennifer was quiet and shy about talking to customers. But she set up on a street corner and just kept at it. Before long, she had her pitch down… her confidence up… and sales that would make a career pitchman green with envy.

And here’s my point…

So many of the great marketers and copywriters I’ve known over the last 15 or so years didn’t hone their chops in business school… or with the help of literary aspirations. Rather, they got good and then better at what they do by… doing it. Anyone who has ever sold anything door to door, for instance, is often a natural at copywriting.

There’s just something about selling face-to-face that polishes you and makes you focus on the person you’re selling to. The hesitation you feel when you’re just getting started is more often your own than it is the customer’s.

Before I got into copywriting, I wanted to write novels. Maybe I still will, someday. But, honestly, that didn’t do much for my copywriting. Much less, actually, than the time I spent during college summers working as a sales clerk in a hardware store and then as the owner-operator of my own house-painting business.

What if you have no sales background to draw from? Here’s one suggestion: Call your alma mater or a local charity and offer to get on the phones for the next donation drive. You’ll get to face up to the selling challenge – asking for donations – in a no-risk environment, where you can do some good without worrying about getting canned if you can’t master it.

Or, here’s another idea. Call the Girl Scouts and offer to sell some of their cookies. (I’m just kidding, of course. But if you do… I’ll take a box of the Thin Mints.)

Last modified: July 5, 2017

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