How to sell a pen

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There is a classic sales interview question where the interview pushes a pen towards the interviewee and says “sell me this pen.”  You might have seen the question in the movie The Wolf of Wall Street.

How do you Sell a Pen?

Don’t start with the pen.

Start with the person in front of you.

Do they need a pen?  “Are you in the market for a pen?”  If not: go find someone else who needs a pen.

Can they afford the pen?  “What’s your price range?”  If not: go find someone else who needs a pen and can afford one.

Can they make the decision now?  “Are you looking to leave today with a pen?”  If not: go find someone else who needs a pen, can afford one and has the authority to make the purchase.

Don’t push pens at people.  “This is a great pen”, “This lasts longer than other pens”, “This is a better colour than our competition”…  all nonsense if the person in front of you is not interested in a new pen.

How to sell a Pen

Find people who need pens, can afford them and can decide today.

P.S. If you liked this post you might also like Fish where the Fish are and The 3 biggest Objections to overcome when Selling.

One comment

  1. Thanks for thought provoking viewpoint. Especially as I am trying to improve selling myself. I read recently that you have to focus on the question “why would this person want to buy a pen from me?” and also that it is important to focus on ‘want’ not ‘need’ as many people do not know they need!

    Would this suggest focusing on the problem a pen solves and then attaching a monetary value to the problem?… e.g. this pen differs from other pen’s in that it uses a special type of ink that never dries out and works even when wet. Remember last week’s thunderstorms, I was walking to a client meeting with my boss, rain crashing down, umbrellas in hand… he took a phone call from an important customer he had been working with and had to write down a message. His pen wouldn’t work, mine did and he still mentions it helped him win a €2m order’

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