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posted Aug 28, 2008, 8:11 PM by cub leader

(a Pack 565 Story)


My son, Sean, rocks—or should I say “pops”?—at selling popcorn.  After his third outing in our neighborhood, he’s over $600.   For parents reluctant to go door-to-door with your son, here is our experience. 


Last year, Sean was new to Cub Scouts and new to selling.  His school doesn’t even sell gift wrap.  We asked a couple of relatives from our small family and made one or two sales.  He meekly participated in two Show and Sells.  He earned a patch. 


This year, the stakes are higher.  He has already had a fabulous year of Scouting, so he knows what he’s selling popcorn for.  He looked through the prize brochure and declared he wanted the Nintendo DS.  That’s the prize that comes from selling $2500.  Sure, we humored him, recalling last year’s pitiful few orders, go for it.  At our first house, the sale was made before he even finished his pitch.  At the second house, the older gentleman there had sons who had been Scouts.  And that set the pattern.  We either encountered adults who thought Sean was cute doing his sales spiel or else had had their own Scouting experiences that they were eager to share.  Everyone made a purchase.  In fact, we didn’t encounter our first turn downs until our third outing. 


Meanwhile, my shy little boy has blossomed into a confident and knowledgeable salesman.  It is tempting, when he is asked questions, to answer them myself.  But I have learned to stay quiet unless he turns to me for an answer.  I only speak up in a “Nice to finally meet my neighbors” kind of conversation while they are writing their checks. 


Here are some tips I can offer for door-to-door sales:


Weekday afternoons and early evenings produced the most responses.  On Saturday, we encountered stretches of 4 or more houses with no one home.  We plan to limit sales to after school hours from now on.  Also, since we still have to get back to dinner and bedtime, it is a shorter, less tiring selling period.


Sean did best when he introduced himself -- “Hi, I’m your neighbor Sean from Beechwood Drive”—to connect himself to their neighborhood, before launching into his sales pitch. 


If a teenager or kid answers the door, ask to speak to mom or dad.  We have found that a teen calling upstairs, “Mom, do we want to buy any Boy Scout popcorn?” will always produce a “No thank you” response.


Learn the products.  Your Scout will be expected to know which ones are lower calorie, which ones have nuts, etc.


Use the between house time to teach and support.  Explain why eye contact is critical, how people prefer to hear “No, ma’am” rather than “Nope’”, why it’s impolite to cut across yards or peer in windows, how long to wait before deciding no one is home, how to greet a strange dog, how to avoid poison ivy, and so on.  Most important, encourage his success!


If you plan to do a long outing, bring some supplies.  An extra pen, a receipt book to give to the people who pay by cash (most of them, in our experience), some cash to make change, a bottle of water and some nuts or cheese to keep your Scout energized.  A notebook to track which houses to return to.  And I even jotted notes about the people who bought—maybe a line about their grandson who made Eagle Scout or what their friendly dog’s name is—so that Sean can include a very personal thank you note with each popcorn delivery.  After all, we want repeat sales next year!


MarKay A.

Very Proud Mom of Sean, Bear Den 1