It’s that time of year.

They’re stepping into those famed uniforms. Lacing up their shoes. Putting on their game faces. It’s officially “go” time. It all culminates in this…that electrifying moment where champions are made.

Champions? No, not Super Bowl champions. Nah—that’s child’s play.

It’s Girl Scout cookie-selling season, folks.

Those who have had the delight of devouring a sleeve of Thin Mints in one sitting know that cookies are BIG business for the Girl Scouts of America.  And for those Girl Scouts, when January rolls around, it’s time to break out the charm and their most comfortable walking shoes to make it rain. Rain Trefoils, that is.

As a Girl Scout “mom” who also happens to work in the marketing field, I’ve strategized with my daughter to help her plan a successful sales season with the goal to pay her way to the national convention this October.  As we talked through her strategy (breaking only to discuss the sweet Samoas that would soon line the pantry), I realized that this process is a great opportunity for the girls to be exposed to significant business situations that will help them understand accounting, sales, inventory management and marketing. Essentially, it’s schooling that all of us need to continually review as we actively market our products and services. Take a break from that box of Tagalongs and let’s chat about how the scouts are getting a real-world marketing education from every box of these addictive treats they sell.

What’s your pitch? Let’s be honest. Many of us have ordered a ridiculous amount of cookies from a Girl Scout because they just looked so damn cute in that little vest. And the dimples? Irresistible. I’ll buy eight boxes.

Is their pitch convincing? Do you know how the troop intends to use the money? Is it compelling? The better that pitch, the bigger the check. Add in some pigtails and you have a gold mine, little lady.

Know your audience. It so happens that the AKHIA family here LOVES Girl Scout cookies. When my scout embarked on this year’s sale…she knew that cozying up to mom in the hopes that I’d take in her order form to work was a solid strategy. I’m weak…I caved.

We also know that of the many fine folks here at AKHIA, several of them are pregnant.  Being in this same state twice myself I know one thing. Pregnant ladies like cookies. A lot. And they can sometimes be a bit hormonal. In this situation, I’ve found that two things that seem to help are cookies and cuteness.  That winning combination of delicious Do-si-Dos and an adorable towheaded nine-year-old sharing her plea for sales can be optimal in this situation.   At this point, the scouts are doing what can only be described as a public service.  Cookies to the rescue.

Know your service lines. There’s always that person. The person who ruins the end of the movie. That person who is going to pass on a cocktail because “I’m not feeling like a drink tonight.” Yep. Them.

When it comes time for cookie sales, they’re usually the person who says, “You’re cute little girl, but I don’t like cookies.”

What? Who? Are you joking?  For some of our adolescent sellers, this may provide a speechless moment that they are ill-prepared to tackle. But, for the prepared Girl Scout, it’s the opportunity to tell said customer that there is an option to donate their cookie order to troops overseas. Cookies? To the troops? Donation? How can you possibly say no to that?

Collaborate. We’ve all experienced it. In need of some kitchen necessities, we’ve driven to our local grocery store, only to see a gaggle of scouts set up outside, selling popcorn, cookies, you name it.  It’s decision time, gang.  There are two options: One involves a quick walk inside, head down to avoid eye contact, perhaps throwing out a mutter about having no cash on you as you disappear into the produce aisle. Or, feeling a moment of goodwill taking over your body, you’re all smiles as you walk up to the troop, buy some treats and pat them on the head a few times before you’re on your way.

The latter certainly makes everyone happy in the end (they have the money, you have the snacks) but sometimes you are just in too much of a rush, you’ve already bought cookies or you’re just not into it for any number of reasons. However, it’s all that much harder to say no to several little faces, versus just one.

Guilt. It’s powerful.  There is power in numbers and it’s a smart selling system that brings big bucks to the troops who participate.

Be ambassadors of your product and brand. I have no qualms about schooling my scout on the need for her to know and to embrace her product. In other words, mommy and daddy need an excuse for ordering 10+ boxes.  But you know, we call it “research.”  Part of that product research is also responsibility.  Eating ten boxes in a day is not going to end in a positive result and pacing yourself is advisable.

This is where hiding boxes for later consumption is encouraged and of course, clearing out that freezer for a whole case of Thin Mints is not only expected, but absolutely vital to a successful cookie experience. I mean, how else are you going to advocate for your product unless you eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner?  (And dessert…duh…it’s a cookie!)

So if you hear the doorbell ring in the coming weeks and see a sweet little scout with an order form and a smile, give her some of your time and order more than one box—as cookie season only comes around once a year. And if you aren’t sure what to order…go with the Thin Mints…and send me a box while you’re at it.