Why “Sell me this pen”?
“Sell me this pen” is one of the most celebrated interview questions of all time. The scope and impact of this question are not bound within the domain of sales or marketing. Along with sales and marketing, this question is posed to test various innate capabilities and skills of the candidate. An in-depth understanding of the same can get you great. It is important to know why an interviewer asks this question. Knowing the rationality behind this question will certainly add value to your answer as well as helps you ace this question. The interviewer looks into a range of things through this question. “Sell me this pen” assesses your salesmanship abilities, especially in difficult circumstances. Moreover, it is all about “how you do it” rather than “will you do it .”All of this helps them to mark you on your skills and suitabilities for the job. Following are the different areas of inquiry.
➔ Sales skills:
“Sell me this pen” is the best way to explore the kinds of sales skills you possess. Any other question will enquire about a specific skill, whereas this question is an open-ended and practical exercise. An efficient answer to this question proves your worth and indicates to the interviewer that you can think on your feet. In short, “sell me this pen” is the best opportunity one can get in an interview to express what they are capable of in sales and marketing.
“Sell me this pen,” as mentioned earlier, is a practical exercise. Invariably, any practical exercise exposes your communication skills. Communication skills constitute the core of the requirements of a sales or marketing professional. Interviewers rely on this question to sit back and evaluate all aspects of your communication abilities.
Another expectation of an interviewer on a person who can sell is their enthusiasm and activeness. This question requires an interview candidate to show enthusiasm. Even if they manage to convince the interviewer about buying the pen or not, they can add points to their enthusiasm. In conclusion, “sell me this pen” is the best way to judge if any candidate is shying away or displaying much-expected enthusiasm.
➔ Spectrum of areas:
As explained earlier, the interview board looks into a wide range of things through “sell me this pen .”A few areas (examples) are shown below.
1. This question helps them to judge if you can rightly understand the client’s needs.
2. Like any other sales exercise, this question helps the interviewer to evaluate if you can build fruitful relationships with clients.
3. It looks into your abilities to close a deal. This is seen as the most crucial aspect examined.
4. Most importantly, by asking the candidate to do an exercise, there will certainly be an evaluation of your abilities to perform under pressure situations.
Understanding the intention of the interviewer is the key to excel in this practical exercise.
Prerequisites to a perfect answer!
There are certain things that are to be known before you prepare a perfect answer. This section points out the three most important prerequisites to a perfect answer.
❏ This follows from the previous section. It is undisputed that the candidate must be aware of the intentions of the interviewer. If the interviewer can predict and expect certain key areas where they are going to be evaluated, it provides an advantageous position. Your success depends on to what extent you address the prospective evaluation matrix.
❏ Adequate research about the interviewer is always advised. Before you craft/plan your answer to “sell me this pen,” the job position and the responsibilities undertaken by the interviewer can contribute positively to your performance.
❏ Practice makes everything perfect. There is no harm in practicing the response to “sell me this pen” with your friends. Background work should happen in tandem with real practice. Get your friend to pose as the interviewer and ask for constructive criticism and suggestions. This will certainly turn out to be highly productive.
Enough homework and change your fortunes for good. The more effort you put in the planning and practicing phase, the more success you may get to taste. So, start your preparation here and end on a high note.
How to perfectly answer the question?
The main motive that must drive our thought process is nothing but how to stand out from the rest of the popular answers. There is no doubt that every interview candidate aims to ace the answer which can impress the interview board at its best. There are certain key points to making it happen.
★ More questions, more clarity
‘Questions’ are the most tricky aspect of any marketing experiment. There exists a fine balance between adequate questioning and over the questioning. There exists no confusion about the necessity of questions as it opens up the requirements of the customer, and consequently, sellers can divert more attention to those requirements to pull off a successful exchange.
More importantly, it gives great inputs regarding what a seller must not talk about during the process. Additionally, asking too many questions inevitably results in increased confusion and a bad relationship.
Here are a few examples of questions that can bring about more clarity.
– Are you into collecting pens?
– When was the last time you used a pen?
– Which pen do you use?
★ Demand is in the air. Look for it.
This seemingly difficult task of creating demand is very decisive in determining the success of your marketing experiment (selling the pen, here). The intuition behind this is the question of why would somebody even buy something?
Unless and until you address the two driving forces of customer satisfaction and happiness along with the necessity of the product, it is really difficult to pull off a successful marketing venture. All you have to do is to trigger the element of customer satisfaction, and your job is half done.
★ Stress on customer satisfaction
This emerges from the idea that for a buyer, the most important thing is nothing but the satisfaction they obtain from the prospective product they buy. The best way out in this situation is to help establish a connection (emotional) between the product and the buyer. If there comes the point where the buyer (here, the interviewer) is convinced about the value that the product can add to their life in terms of utility, happiness, and dignity, the job is nearly done.
In short, this is the most difficult yet the high-yielding part of a marketing venture.
★ Best impression, high yield
There exist plenty of preconceived notions about the product that can result in them either liking or disliking the product. Giving the best impression about the product includes two steps.
Firstly, the seller needs to identify those characteristic features that the prospective buyer likes about the product. This is the solid ground from which the marketing essentially takes place.
Secondly, there should be successful channelization of the above-mentioned features to convince them how the particular product becomes an upgrade from the current product. Finally, the impression created by the seller’s efforts can be put in use to discuss why it is the best buy.
★ Know your product
It is rather undisputed that the seller knows in depth what they are selling. Even though focusing solely on the features of the product without any marketing strategy is not greatly advised, one cannot afford to go clueless about the basic features of the product. Being informed about the product is perceived as a crucial prerequisite as it enables the seller to answer the subsidiary questions posed by the interview board.
★ Relationships that last long
Even though this aspect seems a bit out of place in the context of selling a pen as a marketing exercise, this cannot be done away with. Customer-seller relationships should not be seen as a one-time relationships. Understanding the value of a loyal customer will help bring lots of good fortune sooner or later.
Things to avoid while answering to “sell me this pen.”
Candidates must be extremely careful not to answer the question in a negative way. A wrong approach can hinder the goodwill of the candidate and holds the potential to pull down all the advantages created in the other aspects of the interview.
★ Declining to answer will cost you dearly.
It is crucial to understand that the question “sell me this pen” is not an optional activity, nor does the interviewer ask for your opinion on selling the pen. There are no two ways to consider it as a must-do task. Any reply that says that you are not comfortable answering the question or that you do not know the right answer may affect your chances of being successful in the process. It is always advised to be optimistic and try the best rather than evading to answer. Tactically declining to answer sends out the wrong message about your willingness and dedication. This has to be avoided.
★ Marketing is not just about the features of the pen.
Even though the technical features of the pen are crucial and need to be addressed, over-relying on it will not be impressive. The focus should be on the specific value of the pen, its value addition to the user, and on how good the deal is. This revolves around the idea that your answer should aim to address the intentions of the interviewer rather than choosing your own path completely.
Examples to guide your answer on “sell me this pen.”
“Can you tell me the last time you had trouble with a pen?”
“Yes, of course. It was sometime last week. I was writing notes, and my pen ran out of ink. I had a difficult time retrieving one quickly. I had the trouble of going all the way back to my office.”
“That’s nasty; you shouldn’t have had that experience.”
“You are a person with great responsibilities. As a senior official of this company, you always have a very busy schedule, am I correct?”
“Yes, you said it right. That is my daily routine.”
“Well. Given your busy schedule, you do not have to think too much about the reliability of the pen you use, always. This pen I am holding is a one-stop solution to the worries you have. The refillable ink cartridge here will aid you in avoiding unnecessary trouble. Your life is going to be less troublesome with this pen. Are you ready for this ?“
“Sell me this pen.”
“Hello, I am from the New Horizon Pens. I am delighted to tell you about our state of art pens.”
“I’m afraid I am not interested. I’ve been through a lot of pens, and I have plenty of them.”
“Oh, OK. May I ask why you go through plenty of them?”
“Well, I’m an editor at this organization, and I engage with pages every day throughout. I find that I have to go for more pens as pens usually do not last long as I expect.”
“That’s right. What if I were to tell you that pens from the New Possibilities Pen Company have an additional, high capacity reservoir of ink and can last at least twice as long?”
“Really?! That’s quite impressive. Well, OK, I will give them a try.”
“I am asking you to sell me this pen.”
“I am delighted to introduce you to this wonderful innovation among pens. Our new design is leak-proof. It addresses your worry about ruining clothes or smudging. I am sure that you will love this.”
“See, I’m sorry. I don’t have much time. And, I really don’t care.”
“I think you will definitely be elated about the innovative grip that eliminates the possibilities of finger marks.”
“I’m sorry, I’m really not interested. I think you should probably leave. I have plenty of work to do.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. What is it that takes so much of your time, if I ask ?”
“Well, there are essay questions to be evaluated. I have to mark different grades in different colors. It means changing pens often, and it is, of course, a very tiring task.”
“Oh, OK. I understand. Now I think I have a perfect solution to all your worries. What if I had a pen that could match this occasion. It can write in many different colors”
“Well, I would be excited to have a glimpse of it as soon as possible!”
Always keep your cool, stay calm, and think positive. Always remember that an outright “no” can affect your prospects very intensely. You must not quit in the first instance. Keep yourself believing in the product and do your best to convince the interviewer. Above all, there is no need to take unnecessary pressure and to have complicated thoughts. The cure for the same is nothing but practice, practice, and practice. All the best!