Bake Sale Confessions


Bake Sale Confessions

Last week at the Bake Sale I lied, cheated and deceived. 

And while I kind of feel bad about it,  I kinda don’t.

I did it all for charity. 

And OK, I did it to prove a point too.   One you need to remember.

Jeanie and I were in charge of the Bake Sale table for that hour.  Sales needed a boost.    It was all for a good cause – a charity that needed money to do good.   Jeanie and I go way back in the sales world.  We knew we needed to apply our skills.    I winked, she smiled and knew what I was going to do.

One large plastic tray laying on the table had a single package of wrapped homemade cookies left in it.  “$1.00 for 2 cookies” it said.  A lady walked by, saw that it was the last one and ….poof!…. she bought it and it was gone.  An empty tray now.  A nice big empty tray.  Perfect.   I took 2 sorry looking single packages of other homemade cookies hadn’t sold at all and placed them along with their description and price tag in the newly emptied large tray and walked away. 

Those unsold cookies looked so puny in that big tray but they also looked like the only two left in what must have been (perceptually anyway), a full spread of those cookies at one time. 

What hadn’t sold at all;  these 2 cookie packages – were gone in less than 5 minutes.  Charity Cha – Ching!

That tray was gold.  When it emptied, I placed other items ( many that were single sole items to begin with) and put them that tray tucked up against the corner looking like the last of the most popular product on the table.  Disappeared they did. 

On occasion, I admit I threw in a whispered “That’s the last one….” to the unsuspecting passerby while pointing to the giant tray of what must certainly look like the hottest selling treats in the Bake Sale.   Folks stopped, then stared, then snagged the item and shelled out the cash. 

The ultimate of course, was the single $10 raspberry pie that was always just a single pie made for the Bake Sale.  I realize as I write this, that my local Priest reads this blog but I have to admit my white lies went eggshell on me and I shouted  “This is THE last raspberry pie!” and  placed it carefully in what had become the Solid Gold Tray of Charity.  It sold right away along with my soul perhaps, to the Devil.

I’ll take my chances with the Devil because of the Cause (Rev. Paul, help me out here will ya? ).  No one was hurt.  And the event was something that totally outweighed the means I suspect. 

It’s not rocket science; this Bake Sale behavior.   It’s Psychology.  We are simple, good people who act way more on emotion and peer pressure than logic.  Way more than we’d like to admit.   So if you mix popularity ( it must be good) with scarcity (there aren’t many left!) like the “last remaining” baked items put in that big tray – you create a recipe most people can’t avoid tasting.

It’s why we stand in line for IPhones, why we rearrange our lives in trying to get tickets for one of only two shows and why we pay high prices for the best seasonal seafood.

But it’s also why we look twice at the last products on a shelf amidst a sea of like products in a supermarket or club store. It’s also why QVC still tallies “how many left” on the bottom of the screen during a pitch.  It’s why in the end, we respond so well to things that are popular and scarce.  It makes us want.

I’m not advocating lying or cheating or deceiving.  (OK, maybe a little for charity).  But you all have products or services or even people that are truly popular and scarce.  Shout it out!  Find your Solid Gold Tray and place them there.  Let your customers, prospects, colleagues or employer see what is so precious and rare.

From a Bake Sale,  to your company’s Biggest Sale,  to just Better Sales for you no matter what you sell – remember the power of the near irrestistable mix of popularity and scarcity;  it’s an influence like nothing else.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.


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3 thoughts on “Bake Sale Confessions

    • Mark McCarthy

      Yes so true….and when I stood there alone….the last one picked for kickball….there was no clamoring for me…. It still hurts. I need to go lie down in a big tray. 🙂

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