As a sales or marketing person, you would have come across this question “sell me this pen” at least once during your interviews. While the question may look pretty straightforward, to clear the air, it is not. In fact, it is a very tricky question that requires a detailed and methodical approach. To make it clear, it does not require you to directly jump to selling the pen by highlighting its positive aspects. Let us see what is the specific idea behind this question and what kinds of answers are best suited for it.
Why is this question asked during interviews?
If you have applied for a sales or marketing position, the “sell me this pen” question gives the interviewers a great chance to gauge your sales skills. Interviewers do not need a simple features-specific answer, so it must be avoided at all costs. They are more interested in assessing your approach to this question. This would include your how you sell and the strategies you use to close the deal. It is important to take time to prepare for selling something, so do not jump the gun directly and follow a systematic approach.
Not everyone can sell and the approach you follow to answer this question will determine whether you have that X factor. Besides the skills and abilities required for selling, interviewers also evaluate a candidate’s ability to think out-of-the-box in a crunch situation like an interview. Your communication skills are another parameter that the interviewer will judge you on, and a confident approach will take you one step closer towards landing that job. If you prepare well this answer, you can assertively answer any other question where a pen is replaced with any other product, maybe even the ones that the prospect company manufactures.
How to answer “sell me this pen” in an interview?
While there is no right answer to this question, there is a specific approach you can follow to ace this question. Your answers and approach will have to be adjusted to further questions that the interviewer throws at you. However, you can follow this six-step approach to answer this question.
Though this question can even catch a seasoned professional off-guard, you must maintain your composure. Your confidence regarding selling the pen will give the interviewer the assurance of your selling abilities. Show interest in the needs and questions of the interviewer and maintain eye contact throughout. Remain polite but confident, smile and make the interviewer comfortable as you move ahead answering the question.
Understand the needs of your customer
One of the important factors of the selling process is the need to understand the specific needs of the customer, which many fail at addressing. You will lose out if the buyer doesn’t want what you offer, even if your product is outstanding. Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer a few questions like which pens have they used previously, what is the important use of their pens, and what improvements they are looking in their new pen. Based on the response, you can tailor your further pitch accordingly to close the deal.
Link the best product features with customer needs
Once you manage to get the discussion going and elicit the interviewer’s response regarding their preferences, you can match the best features of the pen with their needs. They might have a fondness for a particular color or ink, refillable pen or maybe a good grip while writing. Besides the ones listed by the interviewer, also try to see if any other noteworthy features match closely to their requirements.
Use creativity and customer’s emotion
Since it is a hypothetical situation, make full use of your creativity. Interviewers would not expect you to be factually correct at all times, but try not to go overboard. Make your pitch convincing and remain confident in your approach. Also, a customer’s emotions are a huge factor in the selling process, so target them to make your pitch more effective. If they use a particular pen to write their diary only or sign important documents, try to link that with your pen and convince them why they must opt for this pen.
The interviewer might use all tricks to throw you off-guard to see if you can really handle objection and criticism during the sales process. They might not give a positive response to all sales attempts and tell you they are not convinced. The trick here is to remain composed and not take it personally. Try to bring back the conversation in the right direction by continuing with your sales pitch.
Ask for any reservations about the product
This is the last but most significant part of the sales process. The interviewer might be convinced about all but one aspect of the pen, due to which the deal might not happen. Enquire whether they have any reservations that could stop them from going ahead with the deal. If pricing is a factor, you can put forth a solution that you are offering them a 10% discount and can make it 20 if they buy 5 more pens. Further, you can also give a money-back guarantee to make the offer irresistible.
And this is how you crack this seemingly intimidating question – “sell me this pen”!
What are some of the best answers to “sell me this pen” question?
I would like to more details about your existing pen, the usage pattern and offer solutions that closely match your requirements. You can put forward questions like when did you last buy a pen? How much do you use it in a day? What are the positive and negative elements of using your current pen? Etc.
Why does it work?
Asking questions upfront will make you stand out as a wise salesperson who knows the fundamentals of making sales effectively. Asking for specific requirements and meeting them through the product features is the easiest way to make a sale. With the answers you receive from the interviewer, you can pitch your answers accordingly and move towards closing the deal.
“Sell me this pen” – Response #2
I would like to more details about your existing pen, the usage pattern and offer solutions that closely match your requirements. After analyzing the requirements and presenting the solutions, you can say that how your company would want to be their preferred partner by delivering quality and ensuring satisfaction with the product. Later, you can move towards the value-added part. You can say that our company would give additional customization and put your company logo so that the pens can be used as corporate gifts as well. You can also add that we would give you a discount of 10% on bulk order.
Why does it work?
While making the right pitch is important, the ability to close deals with effective tactics is even more important. Companies would need more people who can close deals. This response not only makes a strong statement in terms of commitment to delivering but also goes beyond that in terms of value addition. Though the branding and customized pens might not be an upfront requirement, if you offer it as a value proposition, you will move a step closer towards landing the deal.
Some final tips to keep in mind for answering
“Sell me this pen”
- Never say never
Never say that you are uncomfortable doing a particular thing or avoid answering particular questions related to making a sale. It’s clearly a negative sign and would reflect badly on your ability to sell. Always remain confident and give the best possible answers after careful thought.
- Look serious
Even though the situation is hypothetical, approach it with seriousness and confidence. Use all the tactics and sound positive to show that you are making an actual sale.
- Close the deal
Besides educating the interviewer about the positives of the pen, make that extra effort to close the deal. Since the situation is hypothetical, make full use of the opportunity. Just to test you, the interviewer may reject several of your approaches. Each time, you can elaborate on other positive aspects or give good offers to make the interviewer sign the deal. It will show your persistence and the ability to move forward in convincing the client.
While a large part of the conversation will be about describing the product features, you must make the mood of lighter by personalizing it. You can target the emotional appeal of the customer or give examples of how other customers have benefited from your product. Sharing personal examples or establishing an emotional connection will show that you are not here just to make a sale. It will also show that you are in for giving value and can be trusted for a long-term business relationship.
Making a sale will always be a challenging prospect, especially if your field is competitive. However, by following the above tactics, you can simplify the process to a very large extent. Solving the specific problems of a buyer and offering a value-added approach makes a salesperson effective.