July 24, 2021

“Sell Me This Pen?” - Here Is Your Jaw-Dropping Response To It In The Sales Job Interview!

A pen is another piece of small equipment that many take for granted in today's world because pens are everywhere. And surprisingly, it is rare to find a creative and innovative approach on selling pens! However, at times like these, you can easily win by thinking outside the box! In this blog find creative & strategic ways of answering - “Sell me this pen?".

If someone asked you to sell him/her the pen you are currently using, how would you do it? Did you watch the movie Wolf of Wall Street? I mean that one with Leo DiCaprio!

Yes. I loved it! It had a great storyline and a lot of funny moments too. But there was one part where Jordan Belfort's boss asked him to sell him a pen over the phone. There was not even any reason for buying or selling a pen in this scene, but it did get me thinking about what is necessary to sell someone something - even if they don't need it.

Source: Wolf of Wall Street - Google Images

Psychologists from the University of Chicago recently found out that people are not as rational as we think they are. No matter how smart a person is, when you put them in a face-to-face situation where they have to buy something, and irrationality strikes. This can be noticed by a specific pattern of behavior – Sales Managers and self-employed business owners all over the world know it under the name "Sell me this pen".

During a recent research study, psychologists made experiments on the buying decision process for simple items such as pens. In every experiment, participants were divided into two groups: those who have never held a pen before and those who have extensive experience with it. They all had to answer simple questions about the the quality of a given item, propose its price, and decide to buy it.

Results showed that novices are often ready to pay more money for an average pen while experts are likely to favor less expensive but good quality pens. This behavior is irrational because in both cases people end up paying more than they should. According to researchers, this pattern may help explain why companies sell low-quality items at high prices or offer few basic options with very high premiums. 

How would I or you must think to impressively answer - “Sell Me This Pen?”

Well, this is a tricky one. It really depends on the price range of the pen and what type of person is asking for it. If I could only give some broad guidelines that may help - but it's best if they can find out more by watching your demonstration!

First of all, why am I 'selling' this? This really needs thinking about. Usually, I use a pen because I need to be writing something down or signing my name somewhere in order to complete a transaction. So in a sense, that is what you are doing when you sell a pen: completing an important transaction in record time!

Two of the Biggest Mistakes Most Sellers Make!

I can't tell you how often I read blog posts about the "Ten Commandments of Selling'' or "Eight Essential Steps to Becoming a Better Sales Person." But as an individual who has been appreciated for his convincing and persuasion skills, I would love to tell you that if you are going to be good at sales – really good – then there are 3 things that you need to keep a check of;

  1. Relying on the pen's features!

Why it's incorrect: Selling is like to shooting a dart in the dark without first turning on the lights to view the board.

Our impulse is to start with features since they are visible to both the buyer and the seller. We believe people value the same things we do, but that is not the case. In the eyes of the beholder, not all features are created equal.

Why?

It's never the feature that we are interested in; it's always the final result or the benefits! And we all place various values on them. We want to impress people if we want our pen to be gold-plated.

We need function that lasts through frequent writing if we want a smooth roll that lasts for usage after use.

The objective is that the "sell me this pen" prompt requires you to get to know the consumer before formulating your presentation.

You accomplish this by asking questions. I will tell you what sort of questions to be asked. Read the blog further to know in detail about it. 

You become a showman if you don't understand their position, needs, and values. Why narrate aspects that they can see for themselves?

Here's a solid explanation from Jordan Belfort himself: 

"The true answer is that before I ever offer a pen to someone, I need to know about the individual, what their needs are, what sort of pens they use, do they use a pen?" How frequently do they use a pen? The initial thought is that I'd want to hear [the salesperson] ask me a question. Most ordinary or novice salesmen believe they are expected to sell you the pen, however a truly seasoned salesman will convert it into a qualifying session to determine what you require. That is the reality. It's like trying to sell someone a house when you don't know if they're looking for one or what sort of house they want.
  1. Next, you do a terrible job asking qualifying questions. That is a big problem because most sales opportunities require multiple contacts before closing. If you don't find out early whether they have any interest in what you have to offer, it wastes your time and theirs.

You don't ask questions in a way that produces useful information. If you don't know how they feel about what you are telling them, it's hard to be persuasive. But if you do the reverse and tell them how you feel, it's easy for them to resist your words because there's no reason for them to listen.

Qualify First: Important Questions To Ask Your Prospect!

It is important before we move on that we take a moment and understand just what makes a "qualifying question." The qualifier is actually really simple: It must be designed with one intention and one intention only – to find out whether or not the prospect has any interest whatsoever in purchasing from me at all. That's all that qualifies.

Suppose, your potential customer doesn't seem interested in your product or service, it's probably not a good match for them. Be sure to ask enough qualifying questions before moving forward. Remember the goal is to find common ground with a customer who will be a great fit for your products or services. So try starting off by asking them, "What is your biggest challenge in that department?" Then let the conversation go from there.

Remember, the purpose of a qualifier is to discover the prospect's level of interest and commitment to making a purchase at this time, within the next few months, or in general. If you fail to do this step properly, then you will waste your valuable time chasing dead-end opportunities down rabbit trails instead of focusing on qualified prospects who are actually interested in buying that “pen”!

So here are some "hurdles" (qualifying questions) that will help you get out of the gate and onto winning "sell me this pen!".

- When was that memorable time you used the pen last time? What were you up to?  

(Examples of responses: Writing a meeting note - you may sell the pen as a dependable on-the-go writer).

- What matters more in a pen: fashion or function?

- What do you want others to think of you in terms of fashion?

- If function: What do you do with a pen on a daily basis?

- How frequently do you require a new pen? (If they ask frequently, tell them the pen comes in a pack)

- What event generally prompts you to purchase a new pen? 

(Example responses: spotting one you like at the shop, running out of ink, misplacing the cap).

- How important is the cost to you?

- Tell me about a pen that truly irritates you.

- What happens when you desperately need to write something down but can't find a pen?

- What is the highly important thing in your life and why is it so?

(You may subsequently connect this to the final image you paint.) 

If it's "family," the pen can be passed down from generation to generation. If it's "career," the pen becomes something you take with you from job to job, reminding you of how far you have come.

The Power of Questions: How To Use Them To Your Advantage!

Like most things in life, asking questions isn't just to find out information. It has benefits too. We have all heard that asking questions may help you construct a better pitch. But wait, there is more. The act of asking a question improves your persuasiveness. As it provides your potential customers or leads with the joy of expressing their viewpoints.

If you have a background in psychology, then you know just how powerful questions can be. If you don't, let me tell you how the Harvard University researchers showed that sharing information about oneself is inherently gratifying. That's why we spend 30-40% of our speaking time doing it.

In one research (referred to as 1a in the figure below), 78 respondents judged how well phrases like "prefer coffee to tea" and "get annoyed sitting in traffic" described themselves vs strangers.

Brain activity was examined as people responded.

In research 1b, participants defined themselves in terms such as "inquisitive" and "ambitious" in comparison to Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

As you can see, activity in our brain's reward area is higher when we communicate information about ourselves rather than opinions about others:

Source: Study by Harvard University

Now, when the prospect is asking the questions it's easy to assume that they are interested when in reality they could be gathering more information for their buying committee. The bottom line is this: If you don't ask questions about what matters most to your prospects, you are giving up an enormous opportunity to get them on "your side" and where you want them – ready to buy.

Using questions well can help you benefit in 4 major ways: 

1. You can get people talking about themselves 

2. You might discover problems or challenges 

3. Since they are talking so much you will appear intelligent 

4. People will like you more when they talk

Sharing Our Opinions Gives Us Pleasure!

Answering a question distracts us from making judgments. As when we share our thoughts upon meeting someone new, it makes us feel good because it helps build self-esteem and confidence. When we give an opinion or answer a question (and do it well), we feel good about ourselves. We are so busy listening to what they have to say, we don't get the chance to judge or form opinions of them. This is great because it allows us to relax more around others since we give up some of our control. 

When someone asks us a question though, it's not always this way though. When they ask something strange (like "Sell me this pen"), for instance, then all of that goes out the window! So, getting them to talk can almost feel like you are inviting them into your mind, and that makes them feel good too!

How To Stay On Your Toes Once They Answer

Asking questions only gets you 25% of the way to an answer. You will still need to sell after that.

When they answer your question successfully (meaning it's a pretty good fit with your product or service), then you need to be prepared for what happens next.

What if they ask, "How much is it?" Or perhaps, "Can you deliver by tomorrow?" How would you answer?

There are 4 simple rules to follow when this happens: 

1. Answer the question 

2. Use a transition sentence to get their attention.

Then, to transition from the current requirement to the future solution, you'll need a compelling one-line statement.

"I'm sure you had no idea that when you requested for a pen, it was going to transform your life."

"That all comes to an end right now — today [pats table]."

"What if I told you that this tiny instrument here [holds pen on two clasped palms] will provide you with all of that?"

3. Apply paint to the solution (The end benefits of the pen)

In this case, you employ a creative twist to make people consider the product or service from a new perspective.

Pro Tip: Start by imagining a problem-free future. Then, explain the pen and how it accomplishes this for them.

4. Prepare for their follow-up questions

When they ask how much, again remember the goal is to find common ground with a customer who will be a great fit for your products or services. So consider giving them a price range instead of one specific number. They might question you and say "how much?" Again, even if you give them one specific number, they may try to negotiate (like Jordan Belfort).

How to Be Creative in Order to Make Something Ordinary Extraordinary

Make it something more than just a pen.

Let me give you an example.

You probably think of Bic as a very ordinary pen.

With advertisements aired a few years ago, the corporation flipped it on its head. These photographs helped us show that a Bic pen lasts a very long time: 2 kilometres worth of ink (that is around 1.24 miles).

According to the advertisements, that distance is equivalent to the 2 Tower Bridges (or 6 Eiffel towers or 4 Empire State buildings easily!).

Source: Bic Advertisement Image

Create a method to make the pen more than just a tool for writing, and utilize narrative to make what you're saying more convincing.

Making someone's demand more urgent is part of painting the answer in a sale that closes.

In his response to "sell me this pen," Ian Adams does a good job at this. Here's how he ends his pitch:

"Unfortunately, this is my final pen for today" (reach across to hand pen back to CEO). So I recommend that you acquire this one. Experiment with it. If you're not satisfied, I'll personally return next week to pick it up. And it'll cost you nothing."

Why does it work?

  • Scarcity: A limited quantity of anything combined with strong demand necessitates immediate purchase or risk losing access to the product or service.
  • Pre-suasion: Doing a favour (providing the last pen) before asking for one (purchasing the pen) enhances the probability that they will say yes.

More techniques to try on your own:

Mentioning the names of their peers or heroes who use the same pen as them as social evidence)

  • Specificity: Using data to demonstrate how long the pen lasts (in miles or years), how popular it is (in sales), and how much it costs (sales vs full price)

Tying it to Maslow's Hierarchy to determine their requirements accurately!

Source: Google Images

My Quick Template On How To Answer “Sell Me This Pen” in Just 10 Seconds!

Follow this shortcut trick and create a jaw dropping impression;

Step 1: Ask 5 people surrounding you to sell the pen (This is to make it interesting and fun)

Step 2: After they are finished, ask them how much they like the pen

Step 3: Tell them it costs $5.00 (If nobody wants to buy it, say that it's free)

What You Should Do Next?

There are not many people who wouldn’t be interested in buying a simple retractable ballpoint pen for five dollars! This creative technique has been used by several salespeople out there and works every time! It’s a great way of having fun while selling pens for a limited time. If you want to get serious with this piece of equipment, then go ahead!

Tip: By telling them it's free could make them feel guilty which makes the sale easier.

In Conclusion

To recap, the two biggest mistakes most sellers make are: 

  1. Failing to qualify them and 
  2. Giving up too soon.

When they answer your question successfully (meaning it's a good fit with your product or service), then you need to be prepared for their follow-up questions. 

Finally, remember that using questions well can help you benefit in 4 major ways: 

  1. You can get people talking about themselves 
  2. You might discover problems or challenges 
  3. Since they are talking so much you will appear intelligent 
  4. People will like you more when they talk.

Now, go sell me this pen! Good Luck!!


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Aryan Vaksh

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