From used car salesmen to the Wolf of Wall Street, sell me this pen is a favorite and hands down the best sales one-liner in history. And for good reason! What seems like a simple request is actually a tricky, exciting yet accessible way to test a salesperson’s basics or fundamentals. How your candidate responds to these four innocent words will tell you a lot about their approach to sales and just how good (or bad) they are.
How to answer the question, "Sell me this pen!"
As someone who’s been on both sides of the question, I can tell you one thing – it’s definitely awkward. Someone asks you to sell them something – you just know their defenses are up immediately. And as we all saw from the Wall Street wolves, the last thing you want to do is start talking about how sturdy, sleek, and smooth the damn thing is.
DO NOT start listing all the properties of the pen like a broken paid ad. For all you know, the interviewer probably doesn’t even need a pen! We’ve reached out to top tier sales reps and sales gurus to find out what the best way to answer this question is. Here’s a breakdown of what seems to resonate across most of them is a few well-though out steps.
Step 1: What do you do, Mate?
The first step is arguably the most important one. By asking the person what they do, you aim to understand what kind of persona you’re dealing with. Just how do they intend to use this product?
For executives and managers, they’ll probably use the pen to sign sheets upon sheets of documents. For writers, they probably want something pocket sized (sell them a small notebook while you’re at it) to jot down ideas as they flow.
And students? I’ll let you figure that one out. Point is, listening to them will give you hints and the background on how to most effectively coax them into buying their own pen as it were. So know their trades and hobbies if you can.
Step 2: Your job must be hard — When's the last time you used a pen?
This step aims to acknowledge just how tough and important the person’s job is. But at the same time, you want to link the importance of their job with the use of your product. For our writers, you don’t want a pen that’s sticking out of your pocket or that’ll spill ink all over your bag and clothes.
For our executives, they probably don’t want to waste time looking for an invisible pen. They also don’t want one with spotty or weak ink dispersion; after all, a signature is important and needs to look sure and strong. Likewise, strong blue ink allows them to distinguish original docx from copies. The key here is to highlight one or two features of the pen that strongly associates with their type of work and nothing more.
Step 3: Can I appeal to your emotional side?
While step 2 sells hard on the importance and practical uses of the pen, this step leans towards the emotional benefits of using your product. My favorite approach here is to tell the person a beautiful, personal story on how I only use handwritten notes when giving my family gifts or presents.
There’s always someone in your life that will appreciate this gesture more than the present itself. If you can make a personal and emotional connection with the product, you’re halfway done with the sale.
Step 4: Here's your pen — Let's close the deal.
Here’s where all your hard work comes to fruition. If you’ve been paying attention to your potential buyer, you’ll know which things they connect with most strongly. What drew a bigger reaction from them?
If they seemed to resonate more with the practical and important nature of the product, then it’s time to buy a great pen and get back to signing documents. Or maybe they told you they have a birthday or anniversary coming up. Either way, that special occasion or gift won’t be complete without a personal, handwritten note to show your loved ones how valued they are. And I’ve got just the pen for it!
Sell me this pen — Conclusion
Although these 4 steps allow you to sell to potential buyers immediately, they also give you the information you need to turn one purchase into a customer for life. However, there is a different, shorter, and riskier approach you could take.
In a high profile interview, one candidate was asked to sell the interviewer his sunglasses. The bloke just sat there in total silence – not a single question did he ask. He then took out his phone, turned on the flashlight and shone it in the entire panel’s eyes. He then smirked and said, “One pair of sunglasses going to the highest bidder.” The bloke didn’t just sell the pair, he managed to turn it into an auction between the interviewers!
Needless to say, he got the job by blinding his future employers. This is the kind of mentality you have to bring to the table if you really want to ‘sell me this pen.’ Get the person thinking of a problem they didn’t even know they had – one that only ‘this here pen’ can solve.
Check out our posts on how to identify and sell to different buyer personas for even more detailed sales tips. You’ll see that with Veloxy, companies can keep track of all their customers’ needs, expectations and behavior patterns as they proceed. Sales leaders can then use this data to generate forecasts and predictions that will not only improve the overall experience of multiple services and business operations, but also help in creating highly accurate buyer personas.
With these personas, it’ll be easy to know what type of customer you’re dealing with so you can tailor their experience and ‘sell them this pen’ every time.
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