I personally never thought anyone would say to me, “sell me this pen” in a sales interview. I was wrong. It will happen to you too. And to avoid panic, you should know exactly what to say back. I am going to give you the right sales framework to respond perfectly every time. There are exactly four sales skills the interviewer is looking to see when you answer: 1. How you gather information 2. How you respond to information 3. How you deliver information 4. How you ask for something (closing)
Now, since I had a lot of sales interviews lined up at the beginning of last year. I thought, I better practice my response just in case.The “just wing it” strategy is best for making pancake mix, not for sales interviews.
Here’s exactly what you can say...
The Director of Sales stood up and said, “it was great meeting you Roland. Let me go grab the CEO to come in next.”
Moments later, the CEO of the 30-person startup walked in the small conference room. Shortly after initial greetings, the CEO wasted no time to start the interview.
CEO: Do me a favor, sell me this pen. (reaches across to hand me the pen) Me: (I slowly roll the pen between my index and thumb fingers.) When was the last time you used a pen? CEO: This morning. Me: Do you remember what kind of pen that was? CEO: No. Me: Do you remember why you were using it to write? CEO: Yes. Signing a few new customer contracts. Me: Well I’d say that’s the best use for a pen (we have a subtle laugh). Wouldn’t you say signing those new customer contracts is an important event for the business? (nods head) Then shouldn’t it be treated like one.
What I mean by that is, here you are signing new customer contracts, an important and memorable event. All while using a very unmemorable pen. We grew up, our entire lives, using cheap BIC pens because they get the job done for grocery lists and directions. But we never gave it much thought to learn what’s best for more important events.
This is the pen for more important events. This is the tool you use to get deals done. Think of it as a symbol for taking your company to the next level. Because when you begin using the right tool, you are in a more productive state of mind, and you begin to sign more new customer contracts.
Actually. You know what? Just this week I shipped ten new boxes of these pens to Elon Musk's office. Unfortunately, this is my last pen today (reach across to hand pen back to CEO). So, I suggest you get this one. Try it out. If you’re not happy with it, I will personally come back next week to pick it up. And it won’t cost you a dime. What do you say? CEO: (picks jaw up off floor) Yes.
See how simple that was. The CEO loved it. Why? Because all four sales skills were displayed. Here’s the simple sales framework I used to answer “sell me this pen”.
1. Find out how they last used a pen (gather info) 2. Emphasize the importance of the activity they last used a pen (respond to info) 3. Sell something bigger than a pen, like a state of mind (deliver info) 4. Ask for the buy (closing).
Does that make sense? Yes.
Conclusion: Remember, it’s not about actually selling a pen. It’s about showing how well you can sell a product.