Category: Networking, Sales

It’s Girl Scout Cookie season. And if you want to sell ideas during a presentation, take a lesson from those sash-wearing hoards that are hawking Thin Mints door to door.

You might want to use what I call the Girl Scout Cookie Theory of Persuasion.

Let me explain.

When my daughter Annie was a Girl Scout, we would go around the neighborhood together. Next door we’d ring the doorbell and Mr. Morton would come to the door. “Hi Annie,” he would say. “How can I help you?”

“Would you like to buy some cookies?” my daughter would say.
Of course Mr. Morton would say “yes” and buy a couple of boxes.

Now why did he buy the boxes of cookies?

Because those are the rules! You have to buy the cookies. You buy the cookies because you have a relationship with your neighbor.

What does this have to do with presenting and persuasion?

Before giving a presentation, consider calling up your key listeners and asking them about their needs. That call will certainly help you focus your message. But it will also build a relationship. And as anyone that sells Girl Scout Cookies knows, relationships persuade.

Let’s say that you’re going into the CFO seeking her approval for a new sales training program. You know that the cost of the program is high: $100,000 a year. But you’ve run the numbers and can easily see a return on investment of $2 million in new sales over the next two years.

You have a strong case, no doubt about it. Who wouldn’t invest $100,000 for a $2 million return?

But let’s say that the CFO doesn’t really know you. She might be inclined to be skeptical of your data. Everyone wants money. And everyone touts a great return on investment.

So what can you do to make her more likely to buy into your plan? You can ask for a brief call to understand her concerns in advance of the meeting. “I just want to make sure that I don’t waste your time,” you’ll say.

That call won’t necessarily win the day. But it could put a thumb on the scale in your favor. The CFO knows you a little better and will tend to trust you more. That trust might be that little something extra that makes her want to buy your cookies.

Speechworks is a communication and selling skills coaching firm. We teach professionals how to craft and deliver complex messages in a simple, persuasive manner. Since 1986, through workshops and one-on-one instruction, we have helped countless individuals become better presenters and communicators. You can reach us at 404.266.0888, speech@speechworks.net or on the web at www.speechworks.net

Joey Asher

President of Speechworks, a selling and communication skills coaching company in Atlanta. He has worked with hundreds of business people helping them learn how to communicate in a way that connects with clients. His new book 15 Minutes Including Q&A: a Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations” is available now. He is also the author three previous books including “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You from the Competition”, “Selling and Communication Skills for Lawyers” and “Even A Geek Can Speak.” He can be reached at 404-266-0888 or joey@speechworks.net

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