Sales Lessons From a Neighborhood Lemonade Stand

Sales Lessons from a Neighborhood Lemonade Stand

Recently, I learned a few valuable lessons about selling from a neighbor’s lemonade stand. As a sales trainer, getting schooled in sales by three eight-year-old girls was not on my schedule, but these lemonade stand entrepreneurs reminded me why I love sales. This article explores these timeless sales principles that even kids understand are important.

Believe in Your Product

The sign said, “The Best Lemonade in Town.” How could I say no to that? As I walked up to their stand, the three girls greeted me with a smile, and one said, “You’re going to love our lemonade.” I thought to myself, “That’s the way to assume the sale.” Before I could put the dollar bill on the table, they had a glass poured and in my hands.

These girls reminded me that when there is a strong positive belief in our products, an energy is transmitted that others can sense. When the belief is absent, or worse, negative, prospects can also pick up on that as well. If we are honest with ourselves, how often do we secretly fear the prospect will not “Love our lemonade?” 

For example, have you ever been to the grocery store and been offered a free sample from a clerk with no emotion? You thank them politely and pass. Alternatively, the emotion was contagious when these girls greeted me with big smiles and genuine excitement. No one would ever miss their quota if we could bottle that excitement.

Winning Takes a Team

These girls intuitively built a sales and marketing team. One was holding a bright pink posterboard sign that read, “The Best Lemonade in Town.” She was part of the marketing department. The other girl was handling the money and providing change. She was the closer. The third girl poured the lemonade into the paper cup and handed me my drink. She was in charge of onboarding. 

Each girl knew their role and stuck to the process. For example, as I passed the girl with the sign, she didn’t put the sign down and wander over to chit chat. She noticed other neighbors walking their dogs and waved her bright pink sign in their direction. Before I left, a handful of neighbors joined me around their lemonade stand, and the business was running like a well-oiled machine.

Watching these girls work got me thinking, how often do we close a deal and take our foot off the sales gas pedal to celebrate? The sales rep who celebrates every sale is like the sales rep with a great month, only to follow it up with a bad month.

It was clear these girls were interested in helping as many neighbors as possible enjoy their lemonade. Another lesson even us experienced sales professionals would be wise to remember.

Have Fun

It was a warm Saturday afternoon in September, and these girls seemed to be having the time of their lives. They could have been sitting inside watching TV or playing video games but were out selling their lemonade. I was reminded that if the salesperson is not having fun, the client likely won’t either.

I sometimes think, as salespeople, we fear being pushy or salesy. The fear is that we want to avoid forcing the prospect into buying something they really don’t want. This fear makes us nervous or uncomfortable, which, in turn, makes the prospect nervous and awkward. Watching these girls have fun, I realized how much fun selling is. Ask yourself, on the scale between having fun and feeling like work, which end of the selling scale are you closest to?  

A Winning Sales Culture

These girls had no concept of what a sales culture is, yet they created one that most organizations would be jealous of. How could this be? It had to be a combination of the above three; belief in the product, the right team, and having fun. Can you really have a vibrant sales culture if either one is missing?

Too often, companies get caught in the trap of faking one of the three. Simple scales and fake fails. It’s tempting to say, “Our culture is not toxic. In fact, it’s not that bad compared to other sales organizations I’ve been with.” But what is the impact of settling for a not-so-bad sales culture compared to a sales culture that is the envy of the industry?

Is your sales team jumping out of bed with excitement, or do they hit the snooze and wish it was Saturday? It was easy for me to imagine these girls’ excitement when they woke up and launched their lemonade stand. Sales culture is hard to measure with KPIs and benchmarks. But it does show up in sales staff turnover and sales staff retention.

In sales, we face so much rejection, competition, and pressure that it is easy to lose track of priorities. A winning sales culture keeps morale high, makes sales enjoyable, and increases performance.

Watching these girls at their lemonade stand create a winning sales culture by accident, I realized a winning sales culture results from having the right components. It’s not a responsibility of the sales leader but rather a natural outcome when the right ingredients are present.

In Conclusion

Watching these girls at the lemonade stand reminded me that selling should never be boring, scary, or a chore. Too often, we can be sucked into the day-to-day grind and lose touch with what we love about selling. Selling is easy when you believe in your product. Having a support team is key, but having fun is crucial. 

When you combine those three essential components, a winning sales culture is the result. It’s easy for us veteran sales professionals to over-complicate sales. Sometimes, we just need to take a step back and observe a few elementary school kids remind us what we’ve always known; selling should fun, if it’s not, we are doing something wrong.