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girl scout cookiesOlivia Cranshaw is only 12, but she is a veteran of the art of selling Girl Scout cookies, reports Anne Kadet in The Wall Street Journal (3/29/14). Olivia "has sold more than 1,000 boxes a year since she was 7. Last year, she was the city’s top dealer and this year, she’s ranked No. 2, selling 2,041 boxes." This compares to the average New York City Girl Scout, who sells just 97 boxes (the national average is 150 boxes). Olivia’s sales plan starts early, with an email blast to her database of previous customers.

This initial pitch goes out in December, and in it Olivia writes: "You can’t place orders online (but) since you’re one of my good clients, you can send me an email with what you’d like to order." She follows this with another email in January, writing: "I’m going selling again today with Mommy, but would love your help to get over my 2,000 box goal." Her campaign continues at her parents’ offices — "both work for French insurance giant AXA" — "on a good day, she covers up to five floors."

Olivia says her pitch centers on her top-seller status. She states that people take this as a sign of competence, adding that "if you explain your goal, people will want to help you reach your goal." She also employs a classic close: "This year, five boxes only cost $20. Can I help you pick out your five?" "People smirk because they think it’s cute," she says. Olivia reports that it works 98 percent of the time, and says she intends to sell 2,500 boxes next year.