If you’ve ever had a sales interview or looked up any sales techniques you may have heard of the “sell me this pen” idea. Perhaps you follow Grant Cardone or you’ve looked up Jordan Belfort or any other sales guru or self-professed expert and you want to know how to sell ice to the Eskimos, the pen idea is a technique used by many to work out whether you have what it takes.
It’s a pretty common question or task someone given. The pen could essentially be anything, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a pen. I guess it probably started from the fact that a pen has always been lying around, especially in offices and workplaces and someone just picked up the first thing they saw. What they want to see is that you can apply sales techniques and understand sales theory.
Now, most people make the mistake of raving about the pen. Saying “it’s the greatest pen of all time” or “you have to have this pen because it will revolutionize your writing and help you tremendously with your life.” Which it could! But this is unlikely to work. For all, you know this person doesn’t even want whatever you’re selling.
So what should you do?
Well firstly, if someone asks you to sell something, there’s no point in selling them anything until you’ve qualified them.
What this means is asking them questions!
Are they in the market for a pen? What type of pen do they usually write with? What profession do they have and does that require them to have a pen?
All these questions allow you to qualify the customer to be able to then sell them on the pen they want and need.
If you don’t know anything about them, there’s no context to selling the pen. You don’t know anything about them and they don’t know what you want either. So the idea is that you’re asking questions first, before selling them on anything.
Often sales people start talking about the pen straight away. All the benefits of it and telling you why you need it, without actually knowing anything first.
Now look, you also don’t want to waste your time selling it to someone who categorically doesn’t want it. If someone isn’t in the market for a pen, why would you try and sell the one? There’s no point.
You could have the greatest product in the world, but not everyone will want or need it. And not everyone will have the will or the money to buy!
Now if you’re in an interview or have been asked to “sell something” like a pen below I’ve given you step by step instructions on how you can react to this sort of question.
Qualify them… find out if they are in the market for the product and whether they could actually buy.
Respond to gathered information
Now if you’ve qualified them and realized they could be a potential customer, it’s time to dig a little deeper.
In regards to the pen, you could start to ask what type of pen they like to use.
What do you usually use a pen for? How often do you use one?
This allows you to gather the level of want and necessity for a pen and whether you can fill this gap.
Tip: this could be a good moment for you to emphasize the importance of your product for them and how much it can help them.
Example: wouldn’t you agree that using a reliable pen is important to your day to day running of your business?
Attach Emotions to said product
This is probably the most difficult and will most likely be the difference between the sale or no sale.
People usually make decisions based on emotions rather than logic and if you can attach some sort of emotion towards the product the customer is far more likely to make a decision. You’re trying to increase the value of the pen and the customers’ possible attachment towards it.
For example, It’s obvious that using a pen is incredibly important to the running of your day-to-day business. You could even say you’re making history by signing contracts and writing important documents that improve your company and it’s growth. Wouldn’t you want a pen that symbolizes your companies ethics and standards, a pen for history and important events?
Tip: it’s important to paint a picture in the customers head. How they can see themselves using the product and how it can greatly improve their lives.
This is the time to actually ask them whether they would like the pen.
Now you could say do you want the pen, but a lot of the time it seems brash and a bit too simple. So sweeten the deal and create urgency.
For example, These pens have already been a huge hit and I’ve already shipped off my last batch of pens to Hugecompany LTD. Fortunately for you, I have a few pens left and because it’s the last few, we are giving you an extra special deal worth XXX amount of money. If you are unsatisfied with the pen I will personally come pick it up and offer you a brand new one absolutely free. Now would you like the last two or just the one?
Humans are emotional creatures. We may think we make rational and logical decisions. But in fact, we make decisions based on our emotions more often than not. Being able to tap into someones emotional buttons can pay huge dividends… literally!
If you are asked to do this, use these processes and wow the interviewers with your sales prowess!