Best Response to “Sell Me This Pen”? (It’s Probably Not What You Think.)

Best Response to “Sell Me This Pen” | Sales Xceleration

It’s the classic (and perhaps inevitable) question used to challenge a salesperson “on the spot”; so, what’s the best response to “Sell me this pen”? Frankly, the eventual best response to “Sell me this pen” might be to not even ask for the sale! That’s because the first best response may require that you resist your natural salesperson instincts. Here’s what I mean:


Sell Me This Pen? Really?

This old-school challenge originated as a question an interviewer asks a salesperson. It is designed to put the salesperson on the “hot seat” and test their impromptu sales skills. (The challenge was even dramatized in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Wolf of Wall Street.)

Of course, because it is a well-known test, many salespeople have practiced their best response to “Sell me this pen” and are just itching to be asked. Indeed, there can be many good responses and perhaps many effective sales techniques. But I believe the best salespeople rise to this challenge differently. They ditch the pitch, forego the features and bypass the benefits. Here’s why:


Two Possible Audiences

Simply put, in any sales situation (even the classic “sell me this pen” scenario) there are buyers and non-buyers. In other words, prospects either want and need and are willing to buy the pen (or other item or service or solution) – or not. Should your response to both be the same? Would you really approach each with the same strategy and tactics? Or should you take a step back and assess the situation and learn more about the prospect and their want or need or pain first?


Knowledge is Power

To increase your chances for sales success in any situation, you should operate from a position of power based on actionable knowledge. I’m not talking about your knowledge of the product or service – of course, that should be greater than what the prospect knows. Rather, I’m talking about your knowledge of the driving forces that will determine whether the prospect is likely to buy. While in typical sales situations you can do research beforehand, the “sell me this pen” exercise forces you to learn more “in the moment”. Naturally, the best way to do that is to ask questions!

In fact, in an earlier article, I suggested that to close more sales you should stop closing. I suggested you do this by focusing on the customer first, by caring instead of selling, by talking less and listening more, and by demonstrating value. You can accomplish these things by using questions to put yourself in a position of knowledge, which becomes a position of power – the power to use your best sales skills in the right way.


So, the Best Response to “Sell Me This Pen” is…

…to determine if the prospect really needs the pen in the first place! You’ll want to discover whether your solution (the pen, in this case) is a good fit – the best fit, actually – for the prospect’s need.

How do you reach that awareness? Ask the kinds of questions that will help you uncover the root of their “pain”. In other words, ask questions first; and then offer the pen as a solution only if it is the solution they need. If you determine the prospect does truly need the pen, then demonstrate value. Detail the benefits and delineate the features if appropriate. But don’t try to sell a pen to a prospect who doesn’t need it after all.

Okay, I know what you are thinking… Shouldn’t a great salesperson be able to make a sale even if it is not truly needed? While it is true the polished sales professional should be capable of doing this, I believe they should never make it part of their mission. Ultimately, by selling the prospect only what they need, IF they need it, you will earn respect, connect with better qualified prospects, and generate more future sales.


The Bottom Line:

In our long careers of success in sales, Sales Xceleration’s licensed Advisors and I have learned that it is better and easier and more respectable to offer a prospect only what they need. If your solution – your pen – is a great fit, by all means use your sales acumen to make that connection and close that sale. But don’t “pitch” a likely non-buyer the same generic way you would a likely buyer. Instead, ask questions to recognize the difference so you can operate from a position of knowledge, power, and integrity.

Want to learn more? Click here to find your nearest Sales Xceleration Advisor or call us at 844.874.7253.