Today’s Illustration: $80,000 Selling Girl Scout Cookies

how to sell more book cover  Passion & Persistence

On This Day:  Born 1972, Markita Andrews

“The undisputed sales champ in New York City (and probably the country, although national statistics are not kept).”

“Last year (1981) Markita sold a record 2,256 boxes during the three-week campaign, and an extra 750 at delivery time, earning the Scouts $4,509.” — People Magazine


Facts & History:

At age 6, joined a Brownie Troop in New York.

Abandoned at age 8 by her father and raised by her mother.

“For Markita and her mother, who worked as a waitress in New York after her husband left them when Markita was eight years old, their dream was to travel the globe. “I’ll work hard to make enough money to send you to college,” her mother said one day. “You’ll go to college and when you graduate, you’ll make enough money to take you and me around the world. Okay?”

Raised by her mother, who worked as a waitress, in New York.

“Every day after school, Markita would don her uniform, her green, badge covered vest, her green skirt and her white blouse.  Wearing her biggest smile, she would travel door to door in her 3900-unit apartment building with her boxes of cookies.  Armed with a sense of humor, Markita would ask a potential customer:  “Would you like to make a $30,000 donation to the Girl Scouts?   When they responded negatively, she would ask:  “Well could you at least buy a box of cookies?”

Age 13 —

“When she turned 13, she read in the Girl Scout magazine that the scout who sold the most cookies that year would win a trip around the world.  Now, she was more determined than ever to succeed.  Her burning desire to sell cookies brought her immediate results, and she fulfilled her dream of traveling the globe with her Mom.”

“Always wear your right outfit, your professional garb,” her aunt advised. “When you are doing business, dress like you are doing business. Wear your Girl Scout uniform. When you go up to people in their tenement buildings at 4:30 or 6:30 and especially on Friday night, ask for a big order. Always smile, whether they buy or not, always be nice. And don’t ask them to buy your cookies; ask them to invest.”

1978 — “The first year I was shy and afraid I might mess up. . . . Chaperoned by her aunt, the youngster, then 6, traveled door to door at the Lincoln Towers, a 3,900-unit apartment complex in Manhattan where she lives with her mother, Mary Lou. Markita racked up sales of $810 on 648 boxes.

1979, “Her tally was 1,148 boxes, and in 1980 it jumped to 2,100.”

1981 – “Markita sold a record 2,256 boxes during the three-week campaign, and an extra 750 at delivery time, earning the Scouts $4,509.”

1982 “This year, despite the recession, she topped her initial sale by peddling 2,628 boxes at $1.75 each and expects to sell up to 600 more when she delivers in May.

“Markita Andrews, the greatest Girl Scout cookie seller of all time.”

“You just can’t chat,” she advises, “you have to ask for an order.” Most important, Markita says, “When you are tired, you can’t quit. You have to keep trying.”

Markita Andrews is an honorary member of the National Association of Professional Saleswomen

1985 – Featured guest of the Million Dollar Roundtable at their convention at Radio City Music Hall.

Appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, twice on “Late Night With David Letterman,” “The Merv Griffin Show” and “Good Morning America.”

“She was also featured in an 11-minute Walt Disney training film entitled ”The Cookie Kid,” which has been seen by sales agents in hundreds of companies.”

“Mrs. McSherry [her aunt] cannot use the small Girl Scouts envelopes to turn in money from the sales. She has to bank the cash and draw certified checks, the last for $4,392.

“Once on live TV, the producer decided to give Markita her toughest selling challenge. Markita was asked to sell Girls scout cookies to another guest on the show. “Would you like to invest in one dozen or two dozen boxes of Girl Scout cookies? ” she asked.

“Girl scout cookies” I dont buy any Girl scout cookies he replied. I am a Federal Penitentiary warden. I put 2,000 rapists, robbers, criminals, muggers and child abusers to bed every night.

Unruffled, Markita quickly countered, “Mister, if you take some of these cookies, maybe you won’t be so mean and angry and evil. And, Mister, I think it would be a good idea for you to take some of these cookies back for every one of your 2,000 prisoners, too”

Markita asked.
The warden wrote a check.

“Her recipe for success?  Ask, ask, ask.”

Her Book: Andrews, Markita — “How to Sell More” — New York: Random House, Inc. 1986.  Direct Quotations from that book . . . .

  1. And the first lesson about selling I learned now seems really simple to me: Go where the customers are (3)
  2. But side goals are private; they’re things you want just for yourself. You can’t let them take over your mind (11)
  3. If you try to get away with “cheating” on your short-term goals, you’d better also rethink your long-term goals (12)
  4. First, if you make a mistake it’s easier to remember what happened and then catch it on the same day; and also, it makes you feel good to add up all the sales! (13)
  5. You can sell as hard as possible but still have time for leisure and fun, for your friends, time to work off the stress of work. Selling should never be your entire life (15)
  6. I guess their lesson would be that when you set your goals, keep in mind that to be a success as a salesperson, you first have to be a success as a person (15)
  7. But what I like are the people who maybe don’t finish in first place, but are really excited because they beat their own record or maybe just because they finished the race. They’re running with their own secret goals (17)
  8. So why take a risk? Because if you don’t, you’ll never accomplish anything (51)
  9. So selling is really two things: describing and convincing. And you can use the five senses to do both (67)
  10. The lesson is: Get out in the world! See what your product can do! Get new ideas! (80)
  11. I said I needed shoes that would be comfortable to stand in for hours on end. (That’s another thing. Always take care of your feet.) (81)
  12. Extra touches, in selling or anything else, do make a difference (82)
  13. Every new thing you do make you a changed person (83)
  14. Doing what you’re afraid of makes you feel twice as good afterwards (88)
  15. The point of selling is to make connections—and keep them. In a way this part of selling is the most fun; you get to thank all kinds of people for all they’ve done for you, and some people will even thank you back for all you’ve done for them! Back-up and follow-up, I call it. Follow-up will keep your connections to your customers, and back-up—short for back-up services—will keep you connected to the people who make it possible for your to sell in the first place (98)
  16. The first rule of follow-up is remembering to write thank you notes (99)
  17. Chances are good that if you remember your customers, they’ll come to remember you too (102)
  18. Common courtesy is pretty uncommon these days. People notice (103)


1990 — Accepted Princeton University

Key Illustrative Thoughts:

• go where the customers are
• keep trying
• Is there not a greater cause?
• too many lack her zeal
• Stop chatting and ask
• invest, not buy
• smile
• Where’s our passion?
• vision
• passion
• drive
• ask, ask, ask
• everyone is selling something
• perseverance
• look professional
• if our message was Girl Scout Cookies
• tired — don’t quit
• short-term vs. long term goals


Other Information & Links:

  1. She Was Bold. Knocking on doors is one of the most challenging forms of sales. Psychologists’ tell us that our greatest need is acceptance and our greatest fear is rejection. Markita’s ability to face rejection and not take it personally is a winning trait that kept her momentum going.
  2. Law of Contrast. Markita employed a wonderful technique. She started with a high dollar amount in order to condition the potential buyers to think big.  Whether they bought higher priced items or lower, they were likely to purchase a product because of options and contrast. Markita was far more successful than her counterparts because she understood this persuasive trigger.
  3. Persistence. Since Markita had a strong desire, she was able to focus on it when rejection arouse. Her passion for traveling around the world was greater than any one sale. She instinctively adhered to the idea that (as Jack Canfield would say) “‘No’ is just another word for next.”
  4. Humor. After breaking various sales records and reaching somewhat of a celebrity status, Markita was invited to be a guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  During the interview Johnny asked: “What’s the secret to your success?” Markita replied, “I just went to everyone’s house and said, ‘Can I have a $30,000 donation for the Girl Scouts?’ When they said ‘No,’ I said, ‘Would you at least buy a box of Girl Scout cookies?’”
  5. Fan Creation. By letting others know of her dream, Markita created support. She caused people to want to help her because she had a greater purpose. She had a vision of something greater than herself, she not only wanted to experience the world, but she wanted to pay her mom’s way too. This passion resonated with people and created raving fans who were rooting for her.

“How to Sell More Cookies, Condos, Cadillacs, Computers- and Everything Else” – February 12, 1986 – by Markita Andrews

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