Sell Anything to Anybody [Kids Today / USA Today]
by Hope Katz Gibbs
Kids Today / USA Today
Nov. 26, 1995
If you are like a lot of American kids, sometime in your life you have walked around school or your neighborhood with a knapsack filled with candy bars, cookies, or order forms for rolls of wrapping paper, trying desperately to sell them. Sometimes you did. Sometimes you didn’t.
One man who never has any trouble making a sale is someone you may have seen on TV: Ron Popeil. He started selling newspapers when he was 8. Now he’s 60 and has spent his life perfecting his pitch. So far so good. His 40-plus products have made more than $1 billion.
His infomercials are almost as famous as his products—which include Mr. Microphone, the Automatic Pasta Maker and the Pocket Fisherman.
During a recent phone interview, he shared some of his tricks of the trade with Kids Today:
Q: Have you ever had a failure?
A: There was one product, the Inside-Outside Window Washer, that didn’t do so well. But I didn’t let that get me down. No matter what business you are in, you have to invest time and money into it. But give yourself a time limit, say eight hours. If you don’t sell anything the first hour, it’s ok. You might sell out in the third or you might have to wait until the eighth.
Q: What’s the first step to a sale?
A: Put out a sign. If you’re selling candy at school, put a sign on your knapsack or your locker to tell the other kids what you have to offer. Advertising is one of the most important elements of sales.
Q: What helps you make a sale?
A: Know now your product, and have a good presentation ready for customers. If you know a lot about what you are selling, you won’t get nervous when people ask you questions. For example, if you are selling Girl Scout cookies, find out where the cookies are made, where the earnings go, and whom the money will help. It is important to tell your customers about the product they are buying.
Q: Is there anything you should not do?
A: Never tell the price of your cookies or candy until you make the presentation. The customers need to know they’re getting something of value, and you don’t want to appear greedy. Once they know they’re helping a good cause, they will probably be happy to help.