Reading: Girl Scouts

BEC Vantage Reading Part 3

Read the text and then answer questions 1-6.

The idea that a sales team can learn something from Girl Scouts will come as a surprise to many.  What has this out-dated organisation got to do with the fast-moving, corporate world of today? But in the girl scouts’ annual cookie drive, two hundred million units are sold per year, and their revenues exceed $700 million. And these figures are achieved only in a three-month period in the spring.

True, the organization has changed greatly in latter years, ever since the appointment of CEO Kathy Cloninger in 2003. Her mission was to revitalize a 95-year tradition-bound icon, famous only for camping, crafts and cookies. She has worked on instilling leadership qualities in the girls, developing new funding opportunities, creating an efficient organisational structure and developing a reinvigorated brand which is relevant to the modern world.

And nowhere are these changes more noticeable than in the annual cookie sale.  No longer relying on neighbourhood door-to-door sales to obtain a meagre revenue, the organisation now utilises a wide range of savvy, modern methods which businesses worldwide can learn from.

Firstly, the girl scouts organization focuses on providing the girls with life skills.  By investing in the girls, the organization creates a team with strong leadership and communication skills.  ‘Cookie College’ training courses develop the scouts’ business acumen, providing them with presentation, marketing and money management skills; skills which will be invaluable in their future lives.  Through role-playing, case studies and tasks, the girls become inspired and passionate about their role as a salesperson.

And the proof of the pudding – or should I say cookie – is in the eating. These well-trained salesgirls can turn out exceptional results. Scout Markita Andrews sold over $80,000 dollars worth of cookies in the twelve years she was a girl scout.  Her success is for the most part due to the incentive. By selling the greatest number of cookies, Markita won a trip around the world.  Rewards are not only given to the lucky winners, however.  Scouts earn reward points as they sell more cookies. 1,500 cookies gets the scout a Wii game system.

But Girl scouts are not only training and motivating their workforce, but they are also changing their tactics.  Gone are the days when girls went door-to-door around the neighbourhood selling to family and friends.  They now go in for the bulk sales strategy.  They sell to large organisations and businesses, where cookies can be offered as sales incentives or part of corporate gift baskets. This way, girls are able to shift a greater number of cookies and maximise their sales time.


Answer questions 1-6.

1. When do the Girl Scouts sell cookies?
a) all year round
b) for three months per year
c) Every three years
d) Every spring since 2003

2. What was the view of the girls scout organisation before Kathy Cloninger became CEO?
a) not well-known
b) old-fashioned
c) efficient
d) surprising

3. Which of the following is not taught at ‘Cookie College’?
a) how to look after finances
b) how to promote your products
c) how to bake cookies
d) how to speak in front of other people

4. A girl scout can get a trip round the world if she…
a) gets a certain number of reward points
b) sells cookies for twelve years in a row
c) sells $80,000 worth of cookies
d) sells more cookies than anyone else

5. A new selling strategy used by girl scouts is…
a) Selling cookies outside local businesses
b) Giving scouts free cookies as an incentive
c) Selling from door to door
d) Selling large amounts of cookies at once

6. Which of the following sales techniques is NOT mentioned in the passage?
a) motivating the sales team
b) finding new avenues for sales
c) offering discounts for bulk orders
d) training the sales team