Becoming a salesperson entails getting under the skin of a prospect to understand what the prospect needs.
Every organization is in search of sales reps with resounding marketing skills.
And, just like good movies make you forget it’s a group of people reciting memorized lines, great marketing should make your customers forget it’s marketing.
With this clarity – how would you answer the “Sell me this Pen” interview question?
Since the inception of this question at the Wolf of Wall Street, it appears mostly in interviews for sales reps.
This article Xrays tips and techniques to help you answer this question and others like it in an interview. It also explains why the ” sell me this pen” line is used in recent interviews for sales reps.
Why ask a Job Applicant to “Sell Me This Pen”
At the core of the sales rep’s job is the ability to sell products and services. So, in layman’s terms, this line is to ascertain the applicant’s marketing skills.
But, it seeks to know more than how to sell a pen. The panel of interviewers is looking out for your understanding of marketing, its can-dos, and can-not alongside your approach to marketing.
While there are numerous ways to approach marketing a product or service, understanding your client’s needs seems to be the best approach.
Interestingly, top sales reps across the globe posit they will employ three sales approaches that elucidates empathy in responding to this interview prompt – “sell me this pen”.
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What Does Sell Me This Pen Mean?
Pen in this interview line specifically refers to products or services available for sales.
Generally, this interview line arouses the marketing skills and approaches unharnessed in a person. Because it is asked randomly, only those who have done their bit in preparing meet up with the task.
In a nutshell, sell me this pen is a line used by interviewers for sales rep applicants. The question aids them to analyze their applicants’ “marketing skills”.
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Who Said Sell Me This Pen?
Jordan Belfort was the first to use the “sell me this pen” line in history. It is one sales line that will be tied to the Wolf of Wall Street.
In this movie – an American biographical black comedy crime film – Leonardo Di Caprio stars as Belfort. He is seen standing on stage before an audience while an expectant hush fills the room.
He simply makes a firm request “sell me this pen” when he walks up to people in their seats. Sell me this pen, he says, and every time he gets an unsatisfactory answer, he moves to the next person.
In an interview with the Global Mail, Jordan Belfort posits that sell me a pen sales line should get a question as an answer.
So, whatever approach you employ to answer this question, do not :
- assume you know what someone is looking for in a product
- resort to the features of the pen
Most times, users are swayed by the end benefit of the features of a product.
And, if you do not ask the right questions, you never can tell how the amazing features of your product can make an impact on the user’s need.
Read Also; How to Answer “What Areas Need Improvement”- Interview Questions
How to Answer Sell Me This Pen in an Interview
Generally, your response to this sales question should explore these three selling styles used by top salespersons.
You can create interest in your pen (value-added approach) by highlighting various features of the product. This must be done after enquiring from the user about his/her needs.
You can also enquire from your interviewer about some problems he has with his current pen and what he looks out for in a pen (solution-based approach).
With the information readily available, you can proceed to build a case that the pen will solve his needs.
The last selling style you may employ in answering “sell me a pen” is the problem creation approach.
If asking a question doesn’t work for you, demand and supply should. If asked this question, you can figure out a problem which the only remedy at that point is demanding a pen.
This selling style is quite rare and only a few can successfully use the problem creation method.
At the core of answering this sales line in an interview is ” asking the right questions.” Below are some relevant questions you may ask.
Sell Me a Pen Questions for your Prospect
The power of questions cannot be over-emphasized. You will make fewer mistakes if you ask the right questions. And, in selling a pen promptly in an interview, understanding your prospect’s need is what you need to employ a selling style.
The questions below allow your prospect to share their opinion and distracts you from making a judgment. This gives your prospect a sense of belonging if not pleasure and an opportunity to think deeply about what they really need.
- When last did you use a pen? What were you doing at that time?
- What do you love most in a pen? (fashion or function)
- How do you want people to perceive you when they see you with a pen?
- How often do you need a pen?
- When do you usually buy a new pen?
- What is your budget for a pen?
- What does it feel like to need a pen and not have one?
- What is most important to you in life? Family, career, sport, event, etc…
Some of the best answers to sell me a pen will explain how you can sell a pen with a follow up to these questions.
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Best Answers to “sell me this pen” Question in an Interview
The best answers to this line employed either of the top-selling styles. One generic factor prevalent in all is the creativity in their responses.
Whichever style you employ, you need to make your pen just more than a pen – extraordinary.
Read through every answer below, think critically on it, and discern what selling style was employed.
#1. Brad’s Response to Jordan Belfort
Jordan: [To Brad, handing him a pen] Sell me that pen.
Brad: [Answering request] Why don’t you do me a favor. Write your name down on that napkin for me.
Jordan: [Looks around] I don’t have a pen.
Brad: Exactly. Supply and demand, my friend. [Hands him the pen]
Brad creates a problem that his product will solve (problem creation approach). Jordan needs a pen to write down his name on the napkin but he has none. To answer this sales line, you need to create scarcity and respond with supply. That way, you sell your pen and land yourself a job.
#2. Rajathurai Nagarajah’s Response in an Interview
Raj is a senior business development manager at Tank Utility. In answering this question during an interview, he employed the use case approach. Below are his questions and possible answers from his prospects.
Prospect name: sell me this pen
Raj: When was the last time you used a pen?
Prospect: This Morning.
Raj: How much did you love the pen?
Prospect : It is my favorite pen because of its flashlight and multi-ink features.
Raj: We offer flashlight pens of all styles that have been trusted by people since 1982. Would you want to learn more about the pen?
Raj employs the value-added approach in his response to sell me a pen. First, he enquires from his prospect the features he looks out for in a pen. Then, he expands on it to sell his pen to a prospective customer.
#3. Mintis Hankerson Response in an Interview
Mintis is the sales manager at HubSpot SMB, NA. He opines that he would explore customers’ interest in efficiency and convenience in answering the sell a pen question.
He calls this strategy gap selling and it x-rays the current state and the future desired state of the prospect. Below are some questions he suggests will be his response:
“I’d love to hear how you are using your pen today versus how you would like your pen to serve you in the future?”
“How are you taking notes today? How much time do you spend taking notes?”
“What are your greatest pain points in the way you use your pen today?”
The idea is to bridge the gap drawing inclusion from your prospects response.
#4. Best Answer Asking Direct Questions
Interviewer: Sell me a pen
Applicant: When was the last time you were let down by a pen?
Interviewer: Two months ago.
Applicant: What were you doing with it?
Interviwer: Taking notes in a conference call
Applicant: That must have been quite embarrassing.
Interviewer: I had to go back to my study to get another one.
Applicant: Well, that is now history. This pen fits your busy schedule as you will not have to worry about reliability. It comes with a refillable ink compartment and you receive 10 free ink refills once you purchase.
That’s all this pen may need to operate for two years. This means if you purchase this pen, you won’t have to worry about running out of ink in two years. Are you ready for your life to get easier?
Tips on How to Answer “sell me a pen” in an interview
The goal of becoming a great salesperson is solving a problem the prospect didn’t know they had.
To improve your sell me a pen technique in an interview, follow the guide below.
Sell Me a Pen FAQs
- How do you sell a pen in an interview?
To sell a pen in an interview:
- Understand why the “sell me a pen” question is asked.
- Research extensively on your interviewer before your interview date
- Ask direct questions
- relate the pen to a larger idea or concept. For example, the interviewer’s idol, event, core values, etc.
- Proffer to solve a problem the interviewer doesn’t even know he has.
- Can You Sell This Pen to Me?
To answer this question, ask direct questions to your prospect. Find a problem he may not know he has and proffer the pen as the solution.
- What is the best way to sell a pen answer?
Jordan Belfort points out that the best way to the “sell me a pen” answer is by asking a question. Basically, this question may be to find the writer’s core need at a point, exciting features in a pen, etc.
“Sell me a Pen” is one line you should expect in an interview for a sales rep. Answering this question should not be a herculean task if you read up this piece. It provides tips on how to smartly answer the sell me a pen question in an interview. Also, you will gain insight into why the line is used in an interview.
The proven tips in this article will furnish you with the best “sell me this pen” techniques.
- Muse.com – How to answer “sell me a pen”
- Yesware.com – Sell me this pen
- Indeed.com – Career Advice/Sell me this pen
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