It’s that time of year again. Over the next few weeks, countless kids from schools across the country will be pounding the pavement, pushing products like wrapping paper and pencils. My 6 year old son, Joey, is one of the millions who will attempt to raise funds for his school, Southview Elementary in Apple Valley, Minnesota. He’s genuinely excited about the concept of selling stuff, but doesn’t quite grasp the whole principle behind fundraising. As we walked the streets of our neighborhood recently, I noticed a few things that – believe it or not – may help all of us be better salespeople.
Dress to Impress. I thought I was just being cute putting Joey in a nice pair of jeans and a blazer, but I was shocked at how not a single person denied Joey a sale. He looked dashing while standing on doorsteps, and I’m confident that helped seal the deal. For me, I find myself not quite assessing the moment – not every sales call requires a suit and tie. Dress to impress the person you’re selling to, and the likelihood of you closing the deal goes up exponentially.
Know Your Pitch. This is something a 6 year old just isn’t very good at, especially when talking to neighbors he’s never actually talked to before. Understandably, Joey got nervous and often would turn back to me and ask what he was supposed to say. I found myself doing most of the selling… That said, though, most people will give you an ear if you know what you’re saying. Having bullet points in the back of your head instead of a regurgitated monologue comes across more naturally, and as we found, made a bigger impression than trying to recite a 30-second pitch.
Timing is Everything. Like most things in life, timing is crucial to success. We walked our street around 4pm on a Wednesday. More than half of the houses were empty, the other half, the owners were usually prepping dinner or getting ready to pick a kid up from an activity. Joey said he wanted to go out again tonight, this time “after dessert so more people are home.” I like the way that kid thinks!
Smile. Often. If your salesman isn’t emotionally committed to closing you, he’s doomed. This is applicable for a 6 year old, or a 60 year old. Joey did a pretty good job of interacting with our neighbors and engaging in discussion – as much as a 6 year old can, all things considered. Joey made good eye contact, smiled often and was only a little bit fidgety. It was fun to see him interacting with complete strangers and assured me that we were raising a fine young man.
Don’t Steal Your Sisters’ Cheerios. How many times have you been in the middle of a deal, only to have your stomach rumble? Apparently, Joe’s tummy was grumbling a few minutes into our fundraising adventure. His baby sister was in her stroller, chowing on some cheerios while Joey was talking to one our neighbors. The neighbor had gone inside to grab her checkbook, when Joey swiped a few snacks. After that, he was more focused on sneaking a bite than selling wrapping paper. A gentle nudge from me to get back on track couldn’t save him. Which leads me to my last point…
Focus on the Finish Line. No matter how many prospects you’ve pitched, or miles you’ve marched in pursuit of landing the big deal, it’s important to remain focused on the end goal. Joey wants to sell at least 55 products so he can win a really cool prize. He doesn’t understand the importance of raising funds for his school – 50% of all money raised goes directly to Southview to fund events and field trips – so it’s important to remind him why we’re doing the door to door interactions. Focus on the prize and you’ll eventually reach your goals.
I’m happy to report that after one day on the trail, Joey’s already raised more than $200 for his school and has moved more than 20 products. He was 12 for 12 in “closing the deal” in his first ever fundraiser, but there’s still plenty of work to do.
Here’s a message from Joey thanking (or “welcoming” as he says) everyone for their generosity. You can learn a lot from a 6 year old…believe it or not, good sales tactics might just be one of them!
Want to know more about how you can help Joey in his fundraising push? Leave a comment and I’ll send you the info. Thanks!