For fundraising, Faceless Selling is the way to go

Humor

Janet's World

November 29, 2009|By Janet Gilbert | Special to The Baltimore Sun

It's a real treat to sit down to a tree-ripened navel orange in November, so when our local high school's music foundation proposed a fruit sale fundraiser last year, I was completely in favor of it. The only part of the fundraiser that doesn't put a big, sunny Florida smile on my face is unloading the truck. There's something about the sight of pallet after pallet piled high with citrus fruit that makes you wish you were not such a highly effective salesperson.

And we in the Janet's World School Fundraising Department are, indeed, superlative citrus sellers. This is because we have a secret for selling citrus that will clearly not be a secret much longer: We call it Faceless Selling.

Faceless Selling was developed out of necessity after more than 21 years of experience moving products that ranged from candles to cookie dough. Over the years, we discovered that our sales force - school-age children from grade one to grade 12 - really, really hate going door to door. To be honest, we hate it, too.

So we don't do that. In fact, we never show our faces during the sales process. Instead, we entreat our student salesperson to write a note about the product and sign his or her name. If the entreating doesn't work, we resort to guilt, saying: "Last time I checked, I was not in the school [insert organization's name here]. I am not going on the [select one: fall, winter, spring] trip to [select state]." You can also add: "I'm thinking of signing up for the trip as a chaperone; after all, if I'm going to have to pay for it, I might as well enjoy it."

Generally speaking, though, once your student has completed one cycle of the Faceless Selling method and the sales start rolling in, he or she will be motivated and the process becomes something like trick-or-treating. In fact, my current student salesperson wrote the following enthusiastic note to include with his citrus order forms this year: "Afraid you won't be able to get any good fruit as the winter rolls in? Love citrus fruit, but don't think there will be any left when November is in full swing? Well don't worry, for the Marriotts Ridge Music Foundation Fruit Sale will be able to help you in that department."

I never knew my son cared so much about our neighbors' diets, or the availability of fresh fruit in the winter. He has become a Faceless Selling machine.

One note about the note: It must include a short, 24- to 48-hour deadline to pick up the orders. There is no need to prolong the process, because Janet's World School Fundraising research indicates that people either like citrus fruit or they don't. Frankly, you're not going to convince someone who doesn't like grapefruit that the Ruby Red variety is terrific, because it is still a grapefruit.

Now it's time for the Citrus Walk. Sure, it would be nice if your student would go with you, but he or she is probably completely booked after school with music department rehearsals. So just get yourself up early one morning and move the Faceless Selling along by placing envelopes with the notes and order forms in your neighbors' door handles or under their welcome mats.

The next night, drive slowly around your neighborhood while your student shines a high-beam flashlight out the car window onto the front doors of all your neighbors, prompting some to call the police. But others will have taped the white envelopes you provided with their orders onto their front doors, where they shine like beacons of hope in your Faceless Selling mission. Success!

Now that you know the secrets of Faceless Selling, you can easily apply them to your fundraising gift wrap or magazine subscription programs. You are probably overwhelmed with gratitude. But don't thank me. Just buy some fruit, please.

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