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Smart Cookies: What I Learned From Top Girl Scout Cookie Sellers

04/23/2015 05:32 pm ET | Updated Jun 23, 2015

Every year, thousands of people eagerly anticipate the arrival of their Girl Scout cookies.

I'm one of them. I can't resist buying one or two (dozen) boxes. It's a terrific fundraiser for a great organization, and since Girl Scout cookies only come around once a year, you have to buy them - and eat them - when you can. I've been hoarding the last box of Thin Mints in the garage. (Don't tell my wife!)

The average Girl Scout sells about 130 boxes. But last year, Katie Francis, a middle school student from Oklahoma City, blew that right out of the water. She officially shattered the 30-year-old record for most Girl Scout cookies sold in one year - a staggering 21,477 boxes. Talk about volume!

Every year, the media features successful Girl Scout cookie peddlers like Francis. They're usually feel-good, fluffy stories. After all, who doesn't like to read about kids doing good things?

But look beyond the cute kids and cookies, and you can garner some serious business intelligence that will help you think big and act bigger. There's a lot c-suite leaders can learn from these sweet junior sales leaders.

Put in the time

Top Girl Scout sellers don't just send an order form to work with their parents. They put in the time. Lots of it.

Francis told Elisabeth Hasselbeck of Fox News last year that on weekdays, she spent about seven hours a day selling cookies, asking every person she saw. On weekends? No rest and relaxation for Katie, who said 11, 12 and 13-hour days were typical.

There's no substitute for hard work. Get in there and work alongside your team. By proving your commitment to your company and your role, you'll not only earn the respect of your team, but also instill that same hardworking ethic and energy among your staff.

Don't take rejection personally

Though I can't imagine they hear it too often, top cookie sellers will tell you that they don't take "no" personally.

Same goes for business. Some people will see rejection as a form of failure. I don't think that's true. Getting rejected is a part of life, and it's something all leaders must accept. Not every decision you make is going to be favorably accepted. So take the feedback into consideration and move on. If you spend too much time dwelling on "no," nothing is going to happen.

And then always tell people thank you - even if they don't buy. That's what the Girl Scouts do. That's just common respect and courtesy, but you'd be surprised at how many people these days don't consider that a priority.

Speak the right language

"You don't ask if they want to buy ... you ask people how many they want to buy." That's what 9-year-old Marissa Dambra told the Daily Herald, an Illinois newspaper, this year. Those words of wisdom bestowed upon her ultimately helped her sell more than 2,500 boxes of cookies.

The right words are key in business, too. Language is everything. It sends subtle messages about your background, your attitude, your intelligence and even your motivation. Always choose your words wisely.

Form strategic partnerships

Everything is more fun with friends. That's why a lot of Girl Scouts will set up booths with their friends outside of high-traffic retail areas. Plus, they're able to tag team potential customers.

Girl Scouts aren't the only ones who benefit from these kinds of partnerships. You don't have to go at it alone, either. Carefully selecting strategic partners for your business can help both you and your partner achieve more success.

While it might take some time, once you've secured these partnerships, your revenues and profits will start to grow. Make these partnerships exclusive, and you can also gain a great competitive advantage.

Keep everyone motivated

Najah Lorde of Queens sold more boxes of cookies than any other Girl Scout in New York City. She grabbed the top spot for the second year in a row, even though sales were down this year. Lorde sold 2,833 boxes in 2014, the New York Daily News reported. This year, she sold 1,816. Top cookie sellers in the New York City area won iPads, trips for their troop and other prices. Not a bad deal - and a great reminder to motivate your team.

Motivating your team will go a long way toward the continued success of the company. That might mean sales incentives or other prizes. Or it could be as simple as snacks, coffee or even just an occasional beer in the office. Keep the office mood balanced between productivity and playfulness and your team will be more excited to work hard and meet their goals.

Whether you have cookies or not, that's a pretty sweet deal, don't you think?