I love Popcorn Season, and the fact that my unit can earn up to 40% in commission isn’t even one of my top 10. Each day I’ll share – in no particular order – one reason why I feel this way.
Popcorn sales offer an opportunity to learn public speaking
Think about this for a moment.
Who does your Scout typically talk to? Family, friends, and acquaintances, right?
Who have you instructed your children to avoid? Strangers…aka people they don’t know.
As a parent, I want to keep my children safe, but if there were an emergency and they needed to call 911, would they talk to the operator on the other end? Would they answer the door when the EMT’s arrived, or be able to tell them what happened? I mean, they are strangers.
Does your Scout order their own meal when you go out for dinner, or do they tell you and you tell the server because you know how to talk loud enough over the chatter in the restaurant?
There is value and real skill in talking with someone you’ve never met. It’s a muscle that needs to be flexed every once in a while, and if your family is anything like mine, you tend to hang out in the same circles routinely. We create safe spaces for our children to be silly yet instruct them to be proper in public which includes in many cases, not talking to strangers.
I’m sure we agree there are times when that’s not the case, but when do we get the opportunity to let our kids practice?
Approaching someone they don’t know causes anxiety for sure, but after a few minutes – or thirty – we see the ice crack and melt from Scouts selling at a storefront or going door to door. Do not be fooled, those first few times are painful y’all, but if you stay positive and keep encouraging your Scout, they find their courage.
My favorite thing to do is practice with new Scouts at a storefront. Sometimes the parents are as nervous as the kids because it’s new to them too, so I stay for the first little bit, walking in and out of the store so the Scout can practice their pitch with me. Soon we’re on to phase two: talking to someone else. As one would expect, it’s not great, but you can see the Scout pushing against fear. All they need is that one person to stop. What they don’t know, is I’m looking for that person too. When I spot them, I don’t come on strong, but invite the customer to help us out.
“This is Felix, and he’s never spoken to someone he doesn’t know before, and he’s having a hard time, well, you see what’s happening here…”
This usually gets a knowing nod and smile from the customer.
“Would you mind if he practiced his pitch with you? You don’t have to buy anything, but you’d really be helping Felix come out of his shell if he could just talk with you for a moment.”
Of course, they’re gonna do it!
Now, at this point, we have a one-on-one conversation – a safe one where both parties agree to have patience with the other. I get on one knee and remind the Scout what we rehearsed in the twenty times they practiced with me. They usually repeat the phrase, mustering the courage to tell the person next to us (as if they don’t know exactly what’s comin’).
I mean, come on…does it get any cuter than this?
Yeah, we’re getting this sale for sure.
I know it.
The customer knows it.
The only one who doesn’t is the kid struggling with eye contact and volume.
I’ll warn you, this only works once or twice before the kid ruins it – I mean *clears throat* learns how to be successful in conversing with strangers.
In the grown-up world, we call this public speaking…and these Scouts might not have the chance to learn it this young without a table of popcorn next to them. Every sale encourages them from that point forward, and suddenly they’re talking to everybody.
Even the ones who don’t speak back…but we’ll get to that story later.
Oh, and for those of you paying attention, yes, this is the same Felix from the first article I wrote this week, but from two years ago during his Tiger year. The picture above is of him after his second Show and Sale where he sold $380 in a two-hour shift. From that day forward, I’ve implemented this training with every Scout new to the popcorn fundraiser and it’s smiles all around!