How to Teach Kids to Sell

Along with financial literacy, I think that we all need to learn effective selling techniques.

Teaching how to sell is something that school typically doesn’t cover (even though many schools ask kids to sell in their fundraisers!). Many of our parents don’t feel comfortable teaching their kids how to sell (because they don’t think they know how). Sometimes people think of selling as sleazy and high pressure and don’t really think they SHOULD teach their children how.

I was never taught specifically how to persuade someone to buy, even though I worked in retail sales for a number of years and even though I was required to give client presentations on the products and services the financial services company for which I worked offered – with the intent of convincing them to sign up.

Each summer, I hold a Grandma Rie’s Money Camp for my grandchildren, hoping to help the parents teach the kids how to become financially independent. For the past few years, I have wanted to help the kids learn how to sell. But, I, like other parents and grandparents don’t feel too comfortable trying to pass along those skills. So far, I haven’t gotten around to it. This year, once again, I am hoping to introduce a focus on how to sell.

At this point, I planning to have the following type of content. These are preliminary thoughts, so if you have taught children how to sell, please comment on what you did! Hopefully by camp time I will have lots of new ideas.

Why you need to learn to sell.

Here, I will emphasize that selling is just a part of life, and is needed for just about everything we do or hope to do.

What you will use sales skills for.

As I noted in a post I wrote for Prairie Eco Thrifter a couple of years ago, some examples are:

  • “Want a job? You have to sell your ability, experience, training and ability to fit in to the organization.
  • Want to join that special group at school? You have to sell yourself to the group – present your mindset, belongingness and readiness to part of that ‘in’ crowd.
  • Want to start a business? You have to sell customers on what you are offering.
  • Want to buy a house? You may have to sell the loan officer on your loan worthiness.
  • Want to go to that certain special school? You have to sell the school on your academic readiness, your persistence, your activity levels and interests.
  • What to be in politics? Need I really say more?
  • Want to be a singer? You have to sell your song through your voice and get the listener involved. You have to market yourself to venues to get before an audience.”

When you will use sales skills.

I’ll come up with a game or exercise that will help us all think through the possibilities. Pretend you are at a garage sale, trying to buy something- will you use persuasion to try to get the price lower? If you want a second bowl of ice cream for dessert, will you try to sell your Mom on the idea?

Learn tips on selling.

I’ll present some selling techniques – probably in some kind of video that I myself make, then back it up with examples and discussion and maybe some Q/A in the workbook I’ll create for camp.

I’ll find a book that shows kids selling and we’ll talk through the techniques the story presents. Right now I’m thinking I will use the book Benji Franklin, Kid Zillioaire for that. Benji is a kid genius who designs and builds an app (as part of a class assignment) to help kids come up with excuses. He sells it in a presentation to his class using sales techniques.

I’ll search out videos that feature kids or tweens or teens selling, such as the one the teen inventor of Elemento used to present the product to venture capitalists and pick others from – such as this one.

Practice tips on selling.

We will play some pretend games, where each of the kids takes turn being the buyer or seller. I’ll ask them to play out a plea they have given to their parents in order to get their way in the past, then ask the others to identify the techniques they used.

Each year, the kids have some kind of kid business for one day of camp. This year, they will practice beforehand using some of the selling techniques we learned, then hopefully they will remember (with my help) to use them with actual customers. At the end of camp, we will critique the techniques together to see which they used and what worked for them.

I’ve also ordered a copy of The Big Book of Sales Games by Peggy Carlaw and Vasudha Deming, hoping it will trigger some thoughts on how to convert the games for children.

Wish me luck! I’m a terrible sales person.

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