March 27, 2017

Author, salesman and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” Leave it to an 11-year old Girl Scout to prove him right.

When it came time to sell the famous cookies everyone craves, Charlotte McCourt went straight to the truth. In a letter to a potential customer (her father’s wealthy high school friend), Charlotte mentioned she felt the Girl Scout organization used “false advertisement” to describe their cookies. In the name of “full disclosure,” Charlotte rated each cookie variety on a scale of 1 to 10, except the Smore, which she admitted to not trying and being unable to recommend. She went on to score the Do-si-do a 5 for its “unoriginal bland flavor,” and famously called the Toffee-tastic “a bleak, flavorless, gluten-free wasteland… as flavorless as dirt,” rating it a 1.

Her honest opinion of the products she was selling had an extraordinary outcome. First, her letter went viral after Mike Rowe read it on one of his Podcasts, explaining that Charlotte understands the basic tenets of sales, and recognizes “you can’t sell a product if people don’t trust you, and the best way to get people to trust you is to tell them the truth.”

“My name is Charlotte, and I love being honest with my clients.” ~ in her letter to her customer.

Then, Charlotte McCourt went on to sell more than 23,000 boxes of cookies, far surpassing her ambitious goal of 300 boxes and setting a Girl Scout record, not just for her troop or for 2017… for the entire existence of the Girl Scout organization. When people trust you, oh boy (or should we say girl), do they do business with you!

For Charlotte, telling the truth is not only the first line of the Girl Scout law (“I will do my best to be honest and fair…”), but also a core value.

“Yes, it’s like a core feeling. Because if you’re not honest, then what are you?” ~ Charlotte McCourt, in an interview with CBS News.

I agree, Charlotte. Honesty is the most important thing.