I became a member of a local Rotary Club about a year ago, and it has been a great experience so far. 

If you are unfamiliar, Rotary is an international service organization with a mission to, among other global initiatives, eradicate polio, promote peace, and provide support to all of its local communities. 


The Rotary club I am involved in provides a lot of support for a local high school, Shawnee Mission North High School (SMNHS). 

One way we support SMNHS is through a fundraiser we run every year, a 5 Minute Grocery Grab. 

We ask each member of the club to sell 15 tickets at $10 a piece. Most of the tickets are sold through family, friends, coworkers and neighbors.  

To help each Rotary member sell as many tickets as possible, we set up a booth at the Hy-Vee in Mission KS, the host of the grocery grab. Each member can sign up for a 2 hour time slot to sell tickets to total strangers walking through Hy-Vee's front door. 

Here’s is what I learned about sales from my two hour mission at Hy-Vee.

Location is Everything

Setting up our booth in the front of the store near the carts was ideal. Almost 90% of people coming in the building laid eyes on our booth. Grabbing their attention is different from keeping it though. More on this later. 

How can we use this lesson in our businesses?

Many of us can’t change our physical location. But what about where you are communicating to your customers? What about your online & social media presence? Are you using Snapchat or Instagram? Are those platforms the best locations to find your customers? 

There is Magic in GOOD Marketing

Our marketing plan was simple. We had large signs on display with testimonials. The testimonials were pictures of previous grocery grab winners and their overflowing carts, along with how much they won in groceries (last year's winner took home $2,096 in groceries!).

These pictures help the buyers think PAST the sale.

How does your marketing content help your customer see themselves using your product or service? How does it help them see PAST the sale?

Lead with the Benefits

Every product is sold using some type of pitch. And the grocery grab tickets were no different. In our case, I quickly learned that the benefit for most people was that warm and fuzzy feeling they got by donating to a good cause. This was enough to make the sale more than 75% of the time. The chance at a grocery grab was just icing on the cake. 

Once I learned this, I made sure to start every pitch with "We are raising money for Shawnee Mission North HS..."

Does your pitch lead with the benefits of your product or service?

Passion Sells 

Your passion and excitement for your product or service will rub off on others. When you are excited during your pitch, you will notice an increase in your customer's energy and interest level. This will increase your sales, no matter what you sell. 

Be Different 

We were limited with our options here, but if Hy-Vee gave us the go ahead we could have: played music, started juggling fresh fruit or wore funny costumes. All of this would have increased the number of eyes on our signage. 

What are you doing that is different than your competition to help you get more attention? 

Ready, Fire, Aim

If you are not hitting your targets, it’s time to make an adjustment. While tracking all of our prospect's eyes, I noticed that even though we got about 90% of them on our advertisements, we weren’t converting enough people to the “interested buyer” stage.

Then we had the realization that our marketing materials didn't mention the biggest benefit. There was nothing that indicated that the proceeds were going to SMNHS. 

So we made a slight tweak. We flipped one of the signs over and wrote "Proceeds Go to Shawnee Msn North". 


Instantly we had a lot more curious customers. 

Are your leads moving down the funnel? If not, maybe the benefits aren’t communicated well enough. Or at all. 

Ask for the Order 

Not a whole lot to discuss here. Ask for the order and you will sell more. 

Pregnant pause

After you ask for the order a lot of people need a few seconds to think about it. Don’t interrupt them in deep thought. They are trying to talk themselves INTO buying. If you are the next person to talk you might lose the sale.

Not Everyone is a Buyer

Even though we engaged in good conversation with a lot of people, not everyone bought a ticket. We heard some good objections about price, having to discuss with their spouse, and having to do more shopping. Just understand that not everyone will buy your product, and that every "no" gets you closer to a yes. 


In case you were wondering I managed to raise $110 selling 10 tickets in the two hours I was at Hy-Vee (one person donated $10). I have no idea if that is impressive or not, but all the lessons learned and the money earned to help a good cause was worth it!

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Brad Telker
Vice President of Commercial Sales at cfm Distributors, Inc.

Brad joined the cfm team in 2006, and now as the Vice President of Commercial Sales, he focuses on business development, as well as helping contractors and engineers find creative and unique solutions to any size HVAC project. When he’s not at work, Brad enjoys photography, running and spending time with his family.