What are some of the best responses to "Sell me this pen/pencil" in a job interview?
Answer by Mira Zaslove:
I've been on both sides of this question, both interviewing people and interviewing for sales jobs. It can be awkward. And as highlighted in "The Wolf of Wall Street" you don't want to start talking about how sleek the pen is or more generally listing all the properties of the pen.
I'd recommend selling the pen below in 4 steps.
Step #1. Ask the person what they do.
You want to understand what kind of person you are selling to. How will they use your product? If they are in management, they probably sign important documents and checks.
Listening to them will give you background and hints as to how to most effectively persuade them to buy this pen.
Step #2. Acknowledge how important their job is and get them talking about the last time they used a pen.
Link their job importance to their use of your product. Signing checks is important. They don't want to be wasting time looking for a pen, or using one that is running out of ink. Their signature is important and should look strong.
Highlight a feature of the pen you are selling, and associate it with a signature fitting for the work they are doing. For example, if they are signing important legal documents they should sign in your pen's strong blue ink, so they can distinguish the original document from a copy.
Gauge their reaction to the usefulness of the pen and the power it wields.
Step #3. Highlight an emotional use for the pen.
In step #2 you sold them on the importance and practical uses of your product. Now in the next step, sell them on the emotional benefits of your product. Using the pen for writing a handwritten note.
Tell them a story. Highlight how you have started writing your spouse, parents, and friends handwritten notes. Get them thinking about someone in their life that they appreciate, and that they would like to thank.
Make an emotional and personal connection with the pen. The handwritten card and bright blue signed ink can be their trademark.
Step #4. Hand them back the pen and close the deal.
Close with connecting to the things that they connected most strongly to.
If they seemed to resonate more with step #2, tell them it's time to buy the pen and get back to work signing contracts.
If they told you their mother's birthday is tomorrow and they haven't gotten her a gift yet, tell them it's time to buy the pen and write her a special card.