“Sell Me This Pen” How to Answer This Interview Question

sell-me-this-pen

“Sell me this pen” is a common interview question for a sales position. The interviewer is trying to figure out if your sales skills are well developed. This isn’t about the pen itself, but your ability to sell anything. There are several ways to answer this: either you can base your answer on the values of the pen (it writes in blue and has a great grip to it) or you can base your answer on giving a solution, which is what we will cover here.

 

Why Answer “Sell Me This Pen” With a Solution

People without selling experience usually go for features of the pen itself. The trouble is that you aren’t connecting the person in front of you to the pen itself. They might appreciate what you’re telling them, but they’re not motivated to buy the product. You’re shooting in the dark that they will like blue ink or any of the features that you’re describing, so don’t bother.

 

Get To Know Your Buyer

Some people will immediately talk about the product in mind, and that’s not going to work. If you’re looking for a new station wagon so you can drive around with your three kids and a dog, and the sales person tells you about the latest truck in stock, you’d be turned off. (And the salesperson wouldn’t last very long.)

The important thing is to ask questions to gain information from your customer. If it’s a pen (or apple, stapler, etc.) ask them how long they’ve been in the market for one, what they didn’t like or did like about their last one, what purpose they’re looking to use it, etc.

When was the last time they used a pen? What’s the most important thing to them when it comes to using a pen? What kind of pens do they currently use?

 

How Do You Respond To That Information

Emphasize the last activity that they used that item for. If it’s a pen, then was it for signing contracts? If it’s a car, was it to take the family out for ice cream? What’s the last thing they remembered having it?

The key point here is that you first collect this information and you’re about to switch it up on them. You need to create a problem with their old product before you pitch them this new one. It’s not right for them somehow, and you need to pitch that. Either it doesn’t fit the status, the right fit, or the situation, or whatever you come up with.

 

Sell A State of Mind

In 2017 Max Lanman made a commercial to help his girlfriend sell her used car and was able to sell the state of mind aspect so well that eBay took down the ad due to concerns of “illegitimate bidding”. The 1996 Honda Accord with more than 141,000 miles, worth roughly $1,432, sold for $20,000. Why? It sold a mindset.

With piano music, beautiful aerial shots, and a close up of the cassette tape, the narrator tells us why you should buy this car: “This is not a car. This is you. Introducing a used 1996 Honda Accord. A car for people who have life figured out and just want to get somewhere.” Who wouldn’t want to be the person with life figured out?

While Max may have been spoofing luxury car advertisement, he did hit on the same step we’re telling you now: You need to sell the aspirational mindset.

 

Ask For The Buy (Closing)

Salespeople who make an effective closing will always be hired. Since you’re in an interview and not actually selling anything, you can come up with deals or warranties or any other extras a customer would love to hear. Your creativity will pay off!

 

In Conclusion

Don’t avoid the question! The interviewer knows why people buy pens, eat apples, etc. The point is showing off your sales skills.  Your task is to find a problem they didn’t know they had and then solving it!

  1. Ask questions about their current pen situation and the last time they used one
  2. Emphasize the last time they used the product and how their last pen was inadequate
  3. Sell them the aspirational mindset of why they need this product
  4. Always be closing

Now that you’ve gone over this question, try out an answer that works for you.

“Sell me this pen.” You’ve got this!

 

If you’re looking for more answers to job interview questions, check out:

Ultimate Guide to Job Interview Questions

Best Way to Answer “Walk Me Through Your Resume”

How to Write a Thank You Email After the Interview (With Templates)

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