The Best Way to Answer ‘Sell Me This Pen’ in an Interview

“Sell me this pen, “says the interviewer.

Sitting for your sales job interview, the question isn’t unexpected. You knew the interview was likely to ask it, but the question is how to tackle it in a way that gets you the job.

What’s the right approach?

“It’s a matter of supply and demand” was The Wolf of the Wall Street sell me this pen answer.

It’s clever, but not perfect. In fact, the real-life Jordan Bellfort (you know, the person on whose life the movie is based off) had a very different answer:

The real answer is, before I’m even going to sell a pen to anybody, I need to know about the person, I want to know what their needs are, what kind of pens do they use, do they use a pen? How often do they use a pen? Do they like to use a pen formally, to sign things, or use it in their everyday life? The first idea is that when you say ‘Sell me this pen,’ I want to hear [the salesman] ask me a question. ”

So how do you effectively answer a “sell me something”interview question?

If you have to answer questions, what kind of questions should you ask? Do you talk about its features? What can you do to make the sale? This Salesman.org guide will cover all the details.

How to Tackle the Sell Me This Pen Interview Question

The thing is, the statement “sell me this pen” doesn’t mean “sell me this pen.”

Shocked? Most sales professionals are.

Let me explain.

Sell me this pen is a ‘blanket term’ statement. In addition to the obvious, the interviewer also means:

  • Can you identify the right person for the product?
  • Do you know how to understand your client’s needs?
  • Do you have basic sales skills like relationship building?
  • Can you establish urgency?
  • How can you close sales effectively?

You have to show the interviewer you have all these skills and will make an asset to the company. And the best way to do this is just as Bellfort suggests: asking (relevant) questions.

Very few salespeople understand this going into the interview.

The best salespeople do their research though and are prepared for when the sell me this pen question comes up.

Sales questions help you establish your credibility as a sales professional. For instance, asking what kind of pens the interviewer likes and for what purpose does the interviewer uses the pens can prove you have an essential sales skill—empathy.

On the other hand, if you start blabbering about the pen’s features, sometimes even lying about it, you show the interviewer that you’re a liar.

Knowing how long the interviewer has wanted the pen is a good start, but they might just answer they don’t want a pen just to watch you squirm. In this case, you’ll have to do a quick qualifying session and establish their needs before aiming for a close.

To help you hold strong sales conversations with your interviewer, the next section will cover a few sales discussion examples.

How to Answer Sell Me This Pen Interview Question

Let’s examine potential discussions you can have with your interview to showcase your selling skills.

1) To Qualify a Lead

Interviewer: Sell me this pen.

You: How long have you wanted to buy a pen?

Interviewer: I don’t want to.

You: Okay, but do you ever buy pens?

Interviewer: We have an admin to handle that.

You: Awesome! What do you think is more important to her: cost or quality?

Interviewer: Not sure.

You: I’d love to talk to her to learn more. In the past, I have helped my clients save over 20-30% on pens, depending on their quality range. Does it make sense to set up a call?

2) To Establish Need

Interviewer: Sell me this pen.

You: How long have you wanted to buy a pen?

Interviewer: Just a few hours ago.

You: Do you use pens for daily tasks? Or do you only use them during important business deals? Would you say you borrow a pen a lot?

3) To Learn About a Prospect’s Time and Timeline

Interviewer: Sell me this pen.

You: How long have you wanted to buy a pen?

Interviewer: Mine just ran out of ink.

You: That’s sad. Would you mind if I leave this bed with you? If you don’t like it, I will come back in five days and you won’t have to pay a cent.

4) To Identify the Interviewer’s Specific Needs

Interviewer: Sell me this pen.

You: Do you need a pen?

Interviewer: Yes.

You: Do you want a ballpoint pen or a gel pen? Also, which ink color do you prefer: blue, red, or black?

5) Closing The Deal

While your discussion can take any direction, it’ll likely be similar to the above examples. After showing the interviewer you can qualify customers and identify their needs, your job is to make them see you can also do the most critical job of selling: closing the deal.

Let me explain using one of the examples we covered above.

Interviewer: Sell me this pen.

You: How long have you wanted to buy a pen?

Interviewer: Just a few hours ago.

You: Do you use pens for daily tasks? Or do you only use them during important business deals? Would you say you borrow a pen a lot?

Interviewer: We use it for everyday tasks and often borrow pens.

You: I think this pen’s a great fit for you as it’s created for everyday use. It’s a plain blue ink ballpoint that lasts longer and doesn’t bleed, making it great for note-taking and document signing. Should I put you down for three boxes?

Or you can do something like this:

Interviewer: Sell me this pen.

You: Do you need a pen?

Interviewer: Yes.

You: Do you want a ballpoint pen or a gel pen? Also, which ink color do you prefer: blue, red, or black?

Interviewer: I want a blue gel pen.

You: Looks like this pen here is just what you need. It’s a blue gel pen that feels comfortable in hands and is perfect for signing contracts or jotting down notes. Should I consider this a done deal?

A job interview for sales isn’t just about being clever and confident—you’ll also need to prove your abilities as a salesman. By asking sales questions, you can show (and confirm) your sales knowledge and skills to the interviewer more effectively, improving your chances of landing the job.

Alternative Approaches: When Your Interviewer Is Looking for a ‘Wow’ Moment

Some interviewers are simply looking for a wow moment—a straightforward answer that knocks their socks off.

In this case, asking sales questions may not cut it. It’s likely they saw The Wolf of the Wall Street and thought the question sounded cool.

Naturally, you’ll have to change your tactic if that’s the case. Here’s what you can do:

A) Make a Sales Pitch That Focuses on How the Pen Meets Customer Needs

“Have you suffered a loss because you forgot important tasks you didn’t write down on your to-do list? Have you ever had to sign a contract or write a cheque but didn’t have the tools to do so?

Allow me to introduce this pen that will help you write down critical tasks in a jiffy. Its ink is reliable and long-lasting and comes in an easily portable and modern pen design to give you the perfect grip.

Write at all hours of the day seven days a week without worrying about hand pain…”

You get the drift. Pitch the pen to the interviewer, highlighting its key features and benefits in an impactful manner.

B) Have an Interactive and Actionable Approach

I’ve read about many people’s take on the ‘sell me this pen’ question. Here’s my favorite:

An applicant took out a check from his pocket and wrote a $250 check. However, he kept the name blank. He handed the check to the interviewer saying, “Wouldn’t it be great if you had a pen right now? ”

A wow moment right there, guys!

More Sales Interview Tips and Tricks to Impress Your Interviewer

Below are some additional tips to help you answer and sell me the pen more confidently. Let’s take a quick look.

  1. Don’t get flustered when addressing counters from your interviewer. Keep your cool and focus on addressing the concerns.
  2. Always put up a confident front, even if you don’t have an answer in hand. Work your way through your answer while maintaining eye contact and speaking clearly.
  3. Your main purpose is to prove to the interviewer they need the pen. So don’t be afraid to ask questions and dig deeper.
  4. Call attention to the pen’s benefits and features—whatever you think can help it sell. The idea is to create a distinct value proposition in the interviewer’s eyes.
  5. Always end your conversation on a strong note to leave a lasting impression. Avoid weak statements like, “So, um, yeah. That’s how I’d do it. “
  6. Maintain a persuasive, confident, and fun body language and tone of voice—all the while focusing your conversation on how the pen addresses the client’s needs.

Want more fantastic selling tips? Get started here and empower yourself to boost morale and land better sales jobs.

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