Chances are, that if you are interviewing for a sales job, you will most likely be asked to, “sell me this pen“. I have done so early in my sales career and now as a hiring sales manager myself, I ask this of my candidates for six-figure sales jobs as well. Now the task in selling a simple object such as a pen and the “sell me this pen” role play scenario seems easy and you might ask yourself why a hiring sales manager would ask you such a thing. This article will explain why we ask you to “SELL ME THIS PEN” and how to respond.
WHY WE ASK YOU TO “SELL ME THIS PEN”?
Sounds like a simple task to simply “sell me this pen”, but sales managers seeking sales talent has the job of recognizing talent to bring to the team to perform and to sell. The resume and interview does a fine job of giving us your background, but we ask you to”sell me this pen” to actually see you in action and to witness your approach to selling. It is important to not take this task lightly and to deliver with excellence. This also gives hiring sales managers a glimpse as to how you think on your feet and to meet objections.
Why sell me this pen? Well, it is readily available and anyone generally knows what a pen is and its function. We cannot expect you to know the ins and outs of the product you are applying to sell for, so we have to pick something that we can ask all candidates and then evaluate on who we think performed well with this simple task. Having candidates, “sell me this pen”, it can give each candidate an equal playing field to compete and demonstrate their sales skills.
Keep in mind that you are applying for a sales job, so be prepared and ready to demonstrate how you sell and be prepared to “sell me this pen”. Like an actor auditioning for a role, we need to see a sample performance before giving the part. Give yourself the competitive advantage of knowing a common question like his might be asked and to have at least a strategy to sell me this pen.
The “sell me this pen” role play activity also sees how you as a professional handles tasks, not matter how simple. If you cannot take the “sell me this pen” seriously during a sales interview, what impression do you think you will leave with the hiring sales manager? Now that you understand why we ask you to “sell me this pen”, read on to learn how to respond and succeed at this “simple” task.
HOW TO RESPOND
Sell me this PEN!
Lets say that you are going for a six figure sales job and you cannot articulate and sell me this pen, how do you think you would do selling a multi-million dollar service or product? One crucial advice I can give you during the “sell me this pen” role play, is to not start by flapping your mouth and do the “show up and throw up” routine. If you do this during an interview, I know you will do this when you go “sell” and this is not an effective selling style that I want on my team. Treat the question, “sell me this pen”, seriously and use this as an opportunity to show your polished sales skills.
What you would want to do is to ask for a few minutes to prepare yourself, say a quick 5 minutes. Grab a pen and paper and study your product you are about to sell. Write down some open ended questions as well as some closed ended questions to uncover the customer’s need. If you have time, jot down some quick features and benefits that you might use during your sales presentation. Start the sales call formally and to thank the customer for their time. Let them know why you are there and begin asking your questions. Some questions like, why are you in the market for a pen, how many pens are you looking to buy, what features are you looking for, when will you need this pen(s), who will be using this pen, have you looked at any other pens…. and the list goes on. Try to gather as much information as you can and be sure to write down what the customer says.
Once you are confident that you have uncovered the customer’s need, you can then connect the need to your product and how it would be the solution to the customer’s need. Use what the customer said, when giving his/her answers to your questions and to tie it to your features and benefits. Ask questions as you go through the features to get a temperature check to see where the customer is, and if what you are saying is meeting their needs.
Objections will come up, like in sales, this is a common objection, so be prepared. Sales managers interviewing candidates and using the “sell me this pen” scenario will very likely throw in objections to see how you handle them. Since this role play is a fictional role play, and if you had asked what they are willing to spend, you can meet that objection by 1) making the cost a non-issue or 2) make the product attractive enough so that cost is not the issue. It really depends on the situation that the hiring sales manager creates for you. Understand the situation and play around with the fictional role play.
It is very important that you ask for the business and to ask the customer to buy the pen. Remember, the goal with this role play is to sell me this pen! You might also want to up-sell the pen for more orders or to ask for a referral after you made the sale. This will give the hiring sales manager the perception that you are a sales professional that not only sells the minimum but also looks for ways to grow business. Be confident, but not arrogant in your approach and to take it seriously. Be creative to a point and try not to be too “cute” and give the hiring manager the vision of you taking on tasks and doing it well no matter how small the task. At the end of the “sell me this pen” scenario, do a post call analysis to get immediate feedback on how you did. Show the hiring sales manager that you follow through and understand a sales call process from beginning to end. The “sell me this pen”, role-play is simple, but make sure to walk through each step.
Sell me this pen article conclusion
Good luck in selling, “the pen” during the “sell me this pen” role play situation and remember to close. Not something to spend too much time on, but expect this question to come up and to be prepared for the question, “sell me this pen” with success!
Interview Tips says
You can impress your interviewer by asking the right questions. Its no longer enough to be qualified. If you want a job in today’s business environment, you have to shine, and there is no better way to show your excellence than by asking excellent questions.
nice interview tips,
Erica S. says
I had been asked this question on all of my sales interviews and agree that it is important to prepare for this question. Not only that but to prepare for the common questions that will be asked to help position as best candidate.