The greatest saleswoman in the world today doesn’t mind if you call her a girl. That’s because Markita Andrews has generated more than eighty thousand dollars selling Girl Scout cookies since she was seven years old.
Going door-to-door after school, the painfully shy Markita transformed herself into a cookie-selling dynamo when she discovered, at age 13, the secret of selling.
It starts with desire; Burning, white-hot desire.
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?”
So at age 13 when Markita read in her Girl Scout magazine that the Scout who sold the most cookies would win an all-expenses-paid trip for two around the world, she decided to sell all the Girl Scout cookies she could—more Girl Scout cookies than anyone in the world, ever.
But desire alone is not enough. To make her dream come true, Markita knew she needed a plan.
“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.”
Lots of other Scouts may have wanted that trip around the world. Lots of other Scouts may have had a plan. Only Markita went off in her uniform each day after school, ready to ask—and keep asking —folks to invest in her dream. “Hi. I have a dream. I’m earning a trip around the world for me and my mom by merchandising Girl Scout cookies,” she’d say at the door. “Would you like to invest in one dozen or two dozen boxes of cookies?”
Markita sold 3,526 boxes of Girl Scout cookies that year and won her trip around the world. Since then, she has sold more than 42,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, spoken at sales conventions across the country starred in a Disney movie about her adventure and has coauthored the bestseller, How to Sell More Cookies, Condos, Cadillacs, Computers… And Everything Else.
Markita is no smarter and no more extroverted than thousands of other people, young and old, with dreams of their own. The difference is Markita has discovered the secret of selling: Ask, Ask, Ask! Many people fail before they even begin because they fail to ask for what they want. The fear of rejection leads many of us to reject ourselves and our dreams long before anyone else ever has the chance—no matter what we’re selling.
And everyone is selling something. “You’re selling yourself everyday—in school, to your boss, to new people you meet,” said Markita at 14. “My mother is a waitress: she sells the daily special. Mayors and presidents trying to get votes are selling. . . . One of my favorite teachers was Mrs. Chapin. She made geography interesting, and that’s really selling. … I see selling everywhere I look. Selling is part of the whole world.”
It takes courage to ask for what you want. Courage is not the absence of fear. It’s doing what it takes despite one’s fear. And, as Markita has discovered, the more you ask, the easier (and more fun) it gets.
Once, on live TV, the producer decided to give Markita her toughest selling challenge. Markita was asked to sell Girl 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 don’t buy any Girl Scout cookies!” he replied. “I’m 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.”
The warden wrote a check.
Jack Canfield and Mark V. Hansen