Three Sales Lessons You Can Learn From A Simple Lemonade Stand
Summer is in full swing, and that means it’s lemonade stand season. Running a lemonade stand is a childhood rite of passage, and teaches kids powerful lessons about entrepreneurship.
I was thrilled when my son announced his plan to set up a stand and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to teach him a few important life lessons.
Little did I know that he would be the one teaching me. Throughout the process, I learned three timeless lessons about the art of selling.
Lesson 1: You have to be fearless
When we first set up the lemonade stand, I was nervous that no one would come.
As a father, nothing stings more than watching the excitement fade from your child’s eyes when things don’t go as planned.
I was thinking through ways I could drum up traffic when my son darted into the house. He emerged a few minutes later with an oversized foam finger and a homemade sign.
Without skipping a beat, he was out in front of the stand waving about wildly and throwing his sign into the air. I asked him what he was doing, and he immediately replied: “Dad, I’m a sign spinner!”
He put himself out there in a way that only a child could, shouting “Lemonade! Cookies! Come and get ‘em” at the top of his lungs.
Soon enough, people started coming out of their homes to see the source of the commotion.
In a matter of minutes, he had a line of customers queued up and directed me to help serve them while he kept up his unique form of advertising.
I was amazed at how well his plan worked and immediately recognized that my approach had been all wrong.
I was the type to sit quietly behind the table, waiting patiently for customers to arrive. My son, on the other hand, was fearless.
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling lemonade or software; you have to be outgoing, passionate, and fearless to succeed.
Too often, entrepreneurs take an academic view of product sales. It's easy to fall into the trap of the “if you build it they will come” mentality.
However, the only way to sell is to hit the pavement, knock on doors, and put yourself out there in a very raw and vulnerable way.
Lesson 2: Always be cross-selling
When my son said he wanted to run a lemonade stand, I assumed that lemonade would be his only product.
However, while I was helping to set everything up, he informed me that we would need a larger table.
I came to learn that he had spent much of the last week creating different drawings, watercolors, and other pieces of “art” that he intended to sell.
He also baked cookies, because “everybody loves cookies with their lemonade.”
It was a hot day, and for obvious reasons, the lemonade was a big draw. However, once someone asked for a cup, my little entrepreneur wasted no time drawing attention to the cookies he made and the art he produced.
He understood that if someone wanted lemonade enough to come to his stand, there was a good chance they’d also want one of the other items he had available.
He wasn’t content with a single sale. Instead, he wanted to extract maximum value from each person who made the trek over to his stand.
Every entrepreneur should take this lesson to heart. Attracting customers is difficult and expensive. Once you have their attention, it’s smart to cross-sell as much as possible to maximize profits.
Lesson 3: Understand what your customer is really buying
The trick, of course, is to identify products or services that are complimentary to your core offering. In my son’s case, products: lemonade and cuteness.
Why does anyone stop at a child’s lemonade stand? More often than not it’s because the whole situation is so darn adorable.
When you see a kid putting forth the effort with a youthful earnestness, it’s almost impossible to ignore.
He realized this fact and took full advantage of it. The cookies were a logical cross-sell, but the art was a stroke of genius.
He knew customers weren’t stopping because they wanted lemonade; they were stopping because of the cuteness factor.
Put another way; they were buying him, not the product. It didn’t matter what he was selling. If people stopped, they were buying.
It’s amazing how primal the art of the sale can be. It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid selling lemonade or a seasoned professional selling technology. The basic principles are the same.
As entrepreneurs, it’s all too easy to fall under the sway of a self-proclaimed sales expert or some other kind of business guru.
However, I’ve found that the most valuable lessons care often learned in the most unexpected of places.
So, the next time you drive past a kid selling lemonade, be sure to stop. You might learn a thing or two about the art of sales.