Posted by: drewdice | December 27, 2011

Would you like to buy some candy?

As I was enjoying some very tasty tapas and cava with my wife, JoAnn, on a recent trip to San Diego (Cafe Sevilla), I could see the young girl walking the sidewalk, tentatively looking at passersby, holding a box of what appeared to be candy – you know, the kind that go hand-in-hand with fundraising programs.

I typically have a soft spot for the brave souls who take to the streets to try to raise money for a given cause/sports team/trip. She had not actually approached anyone as she walked our way. We were seated on an outdoor terrace, and she made her way towards us – she approached and said “would you like to buy some candy?”

Had we not been in the middle of a quiet and romantic evening, my answer may have been different, but I replied “No thank you, and good luck with your sales tonight”.

Set aside the primary reason for my not buying. As I reflected upon this interaction, I began thinking:

– who prepared this young girl for her fundraising efforts?
– she appeared to be under 10 years of age – why was she walking the streets with no adult supervision (or coaching)?

In many ways, this is how I view the overall preparation we give to kids in school (and extra curricular activities), as well as some employees in the workplace. It felt like she was given a box (or boxes) of candy, and told – “go sell these”.

There are so many things that could have been done to increase her chances of success in raising the money she wanted/needed. Here is one critical place to start:

Share the mission/purpose for her efforts. In her sales effort, she will come across:

– people who really want to buy candy – and, because she has some, they will purchase from her (small population, I imagine)
– really like kids, and want to help – regardless of what she is selling (a slightly larger population, I would guess)

If she wants to increase the chances of success, should could say something like: “Excuse me, my school/team/I am on a mission to (win a traveling championship meet/get new equipment for our team/build a new library for our school), and, as part of the effort, I am asking members of the community to help. Would you consider buying (fill in the blank) to help me meet my part of the goal?

People do like buying from people, and they like buying from people they like even more. More than that, people like connecting with a mission and purpose – and when that is combined with a person they like, there is a great chance for success.

Equipping children with this type of understanding, at a young age, is critical, in my opinion, as this approach can/should be applied throughout a person’s life. Think about how many bad sales people, leaders, managers, daters (the list goes on) that you encounter on a daily basis who could benefit from this perspective.

It all starts with purpose.

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