How to Answer ‘Sell Me This Pen!’ in an Interview

“Sell me this pen.” This iconic interview question has made life difficult for job hunters since its advent. However, you don’t only come by the question if you’re a salesperson on a job hunt.

What if we tell you that at every point in your life, you’ll have to sell something or the other?

It can be your ideas, thoughts, creative approaches, and sometimes, even who you are as a person. That’s where the “sell me this pen” mentality will help you get the most out of the opportunities you have at hand.

Movie Insight

Let’s take, for instance, the famous movie “The Founder.” We see Ray Kroc selling milkshake machines initially, then moving forward to building a charismatic personality selling McDonald’s franchises for millions of dollars.

Simply enough, selling something means moving another person to conduct an action, just through your words and body language.

Salesperson or not, acquiring the techniques for selling small things like pens and milkshake machines give you the power to ultimately sell bigger things and achieve your dreams in the future.

How to answer this question if it ever comes your way, and what mistakes do most people make while answering it? Most importantly, how to adopt the “sell me this pen” mentality in your life? Read along to find out.

Sell Me This Pen Answer – Multiple Approaches

First of all, let’s know the basic approaches most sales experts discuss when answering this question. If you run it on Google Search, you will get many results that map out the do’s and don’ts while forming your answer.

In this section, we’ve summarized the three basic approaches people take when formulating their answers so that you can find out which one fits best with your personality.

Creating a Problem or a Niche

The best way to sell someone a pen, or anything else on that note, is by creating a problem they never knew they had.

We know what you’re thinking. The approach sounds complicated at first, but here’s the trick: line out some questions one after another to keep your clients engaged. They will most likely relate to one of the questions.

However, you don’t want to push yourself on the other person. This approach can only bring successful outcomes if you stay calm and composed at all times. It would help if you didn’t let it show that you’re making an effort at all.

Moreover, you should make it look as if you’re doing the other person a favor. This lies in the way you set and ask your questions. They should bring the client to a thought that you already establish.

This way, he will buy the pen, thinking it’s the only way to get rid of his newly-found problem, and you’ll get yourself a satisfied buyer.

Remember, the problem creation technique is quite challenging to master. Even in the sales world, you’ll rarely find people who can conduct problem creation effortlessly. It takes a lot of practice and social skills that can only be acquired by trial and error.

Nevertheless, if used correctly, this method has a hundred percent success rate.

Suggesting a Solution

The next approach, which comes second in terms of efficiency and sales productivity, provides a solution to an existing problem. All you have to do is build a need for your product, thought, or idea in your client’s mind.

For example, let’s say you want to sell a pen. You can start by asking people what they want in a pen and explaining how these features aren’t in the pen they’re using currently. Now, the pen you’re selling becomes a solution for them that they may purchase easily.

What makes this approach come second, though? You can face a roadblock if the client has a requirement your pen can’t meet.

With the problem creation method, you already know that your product will solve the specific need you come up with. That’s why this method is considered the best.

Still, if you sell your pen by suggesting it as a solution, make sure your questions are engaging. If your client chooses not to answer or gets tired while you’re at it, you won’t get to close the deal. Build interest and work with it until the conversation ends in your favor.

The Value Addition Approach

This is the most typical approach taken by salesmen from top brands and even street vendors. In this method, the salesperson highlights the salient features and value of the product.

For example, while selling a pen using the value-added approach, you can state what it’s made of and what it can do. You can also include its special features, such as refillable cartridges or smooth handwriting.

The reason this procedure is commonly used is that it seems straightforward. You’re not beating around the bush while attempting to make a sale. Instead, you get to the point. You want the prospect to purchase the pen, so you’re making a case in its favor.

Unfortunately, only skilled sales representatives realize that you don’t have to be completely straightforward. You don’t want to make it evident that you’re trying to close a sale. If all you do is list out the features, the client can easily look away and show no interest.

On the other hand, if you use the other two approaches mentioned above, you can engage the client until he gives your product a second thought. That’s why, when it comes to practical use, the value-added approach seldom works on prospects.

Mostly, people need a convincing tone to encourage them to buy a product.

The Biggest Mistake

Now that you know the multiple approaches to answer “sell me this pen,” you may think you’re ready to sell your first pen.

We hate to break it to you, but you’re not ready yet. To map out an effective technique, you’ll have to find out what makes successful approaches work and what makes the unsuccessful ones fall blank.

The biggest mistakes people make are:

  • Assuming they already know what their prospect wants
  • Relying solely on what the product has to offer

These mistakes are common because we assume that the client has the same mindset as ours. We think they appreciate the same features and need the same things we do. But that’s not how it works.

If you run into a sales pitch, relying entirely on these two aspects, it’ll be like throwing darts into a dark room where you can’t even see your target.

The solution is simple: try to go for the benefit your prospect is after. Instead of stating the feature, ask questions, and think about providing a survey that purges deeper and sees whether the client is interested in impressing others or making a statement.

If you think that is so, dwell on that need until the client realizes how much he needs your pen. By avoiding these simple mistakes, you can ensure a successful outcome for your sales pitch.

“Sell Me This Pen” – Wolf of Wall Street Style

After going through the mistakes, we listed above, you may realize that people commit them almost regularly. The only way to avoid landing in such scenes and sell your pens successfully is to ask the right questions.

As an example, let’s analyze the scene in which the stockbroker Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo Dicaprio, asked, “sell me this pen,” Wolf of Wall Street style.

In this classic scene where the wolf of wall street challenges top sales executives with a simple questionlies the answer, we need to adopt the “sell me this pen” mentality.

Today, this question created by Martin Scorsese has taken the sales world by storm.

You’ll be surprised to know that the answer is as simple as the question. Just try and get to know your buyer.

Later in the movie, Belfort himself explains that the only fool-proof way to sell your pen is by asking questions.

Now, Belfort is not the only man endorsing this trick. There’s a famous anecdote about the most renowned sales speaker, Zig Ziglar. The master salesperson was interviewed by Johnny Carson, who asked him to sell him an ashtray.

Without further ado, Zig asked him to tell him why he would want this ashtray. Carson answered by saying it was well-made and beneficial. Upon this, Zig further asked that apart from the features, what does he think the ashtray is worth.

When Carson replies that he may buy it for about $20, Zig declares the ashtray sold. Now, real sales pitches are rarely that smooth, but you get the point. Please get to know your buyer and lure him into making an attachment to your product.

What Is the Right Answer to “Sell Me This Pen?”

Everything we mentioned earlier brews down to this: what is the right answer when someone asks you to sell him a pen? Well, the correct answer is that there is no answer. It’s the questions you ask your interviewer that make him say, “I'll take it.”

Most of you must be thinking, why bother about answering this question? You can quickly meet your sales target by listing your product’s features and specifics, then why the fuss?

You see, when you learn to answer this question, you learn the art of convincing people to look at the object as something they inevitably need.

Once you’ve mastered this art, then it doesn’t matter what you have to convince a person for. You can use this approach creatively to mold your personality and implement your thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

Gather the Four Factors

In a nutshell, to form the right answer to “sell me this pen,” you’ll have to gather information about your prospect in a short period. In this process, the person asking you the question will most likely notice four factors in your answer.

  • How do you round up the information you need
  • How you use the information
  • How you deliver the information back to your prospect as his personal need
  • And finally, how you close the deal

If you carefully go through these four factors, you have what it takes to be a successful salesperson.

Apply the Four Factors

Here’s an example of the right answer to “sell me this pen” that uses the four aspects we mentioned correctly.

When asked to sell the CEO a pen in front of him, a candidate asks, “When did you last use a pen?”

The CEO replies that he used one this morning; the candidate further asks him what he used it for and whether he remembers how the pen was.

The CEO informed that he used it to sign contracts for new customers. He didn’t remember how the pen looked or felt.

At this point, the candidate makes his pitch by describing his pen’s need for the CEO. He emphasizes the need by stating how unpleasant it was for the CEO to use a pen he barely remembers for signing contracts that determine his company’s future.

Furthermore, he presses how he has already shipped lots of such pens to well-known personnel and barely has any left from his stock. Also, he offers a money-back guarantee, which is sure to close a deal at any point.

Now, you see how this candidate used the four factors to close the deal effectively. Not only did he gather the information, but he used it and molded it as a need to convince his client.

We cannot ensure all your conversations with your prospects will go the same way. But, if you customize your approach according to each client, you’ll surely ace the game.

Final Words

That concludes our take on how you can adopt the “sell me this pen mentality.” Remember, it’s not about selling the pen at all. The product is merely a subject that allows you to display your skills as a salesperson.

The interviewer, surveyor, or anyone in front of you will not look at the features you state about the product. Instead, he will concentrate on how you handle the situation. You have to round up enough information in a limited time and use it to your benefit.

Using this technique is not just a life-saving option for aspiring sales executives, but it is an important life lesson. Who knows, you might come across a person you need to convince for your benefit.

In this case, adopting the “sell me this pen mentality” will work wonders for you.

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