How will you convince me to buy this pen?
Here are 10 answers to the interview question, “How would you sell me this pen?”
- Explain the Features and Benefits
- Get to Know the Buyer by Asking Questions
- Prepare For and Overcome Any Objections
- Get Creative with Imaginary Pens
- Craft and Tell a Story
- Offer a Free Trial and Explain Terms of Sale
- Demonstrate the Problem Your Pen Solves
- Make Them Understand Why They Need It
- Embrace the Challenge Happily
- Consider the Buyer’s Needs
Explain the Features and Benefits
When you begin to sell anything, your buyer will want to know about its features first. So, when you are asked to sell a pen, you should start by explaining the unique features of that pen that sets it apart from all other pens.
For example, you can say, this pen uses smooth ink which allows you to write easily and quickly. Plus, the pen writes in red ink which helps highlight main points in writing. Remember that, to sell anything, highlighting its unique features will attract more buyers. So, when you answer in a way that makes these features prominent, the interviewer thinks that you’re knowledgeable in your products, and that you care about customers.
Gerrid Smith, Chief Marketing Officer, Joy Organics
Get to Know the Buyer by Asking Questions
The trick is to not start by trying to sell that particular pen, but instead figure out what your client (or interviewer in this case) wants and needs in a pen.
Start by asking them how long they’ve been on the market for a pen, what kind of writing they plan to do with a pen, what kind of aesthetics they value, what budget they have, and so on. Your goal is to understand what their motivations and values are in relation to the pen they’re potentially going to buy. Once that’s done, and you know their reasons for wanting a pen, you can finish off by fitting the pen you were given into their description. Chances are it will have many of their desired attributes.
Natalia Brzezinska, Marketing & Outreach Manager, PhotoAiD
Prepare For and Overcome Any Objections
Most Interviewers behave strictly, and will begin to stonewall your initial attempts by saying “I don’t need a pen,” “I don’t want a pen,” or “I can’t afford any pens right now.” Dealing effectively with these objections is the best way to showcase your sales prowess. All too often, people buy things without any immediate need for that item.
Sometimes, they don’t like your product design, so they don’t buy it. You have to learn how to work around these real-world objections, such as by reducing the price you can attract them to consider your product. This way, when you navigate your interviewer’s objections and convince them, it’ll leave a positive impression.
Kenny Kline, President & Financial Lead, BarBend
Get Creative with Imaginary Pens
Hands-on sales tasks can be either a nightmare or a blessing for interviewees, depending on their character, personality, and wit. I love challenges which pursue my creativity, as this is my strength. If someone asked me to sell them a pen, I would answer: “Which one?” This implies there are a few different models on offer right in front of them on the table. Playing the “imaginary pen” game would help me to establish their tastes in stationery and their needs, hence I could offer them the most suitable product.
In sales, listening carefully to others and remembering what they say is crucial, so this “fictional pen trick” would work in this context, giving me the upper hand. Suppose the recruiter wouldn’t like to follow the lead in this. In that case, I could opt for other scenarios. This pen is not for you (exclusivity), or I’d describe a “super-pen” with magical properties, which scans the candidate and helps make hiring decisions (tipping the scales to my advantage again).
Anna Starkey, content manager, Prodio
Craft and Tell a Story
First of all, you need to know that it’s not about selling the pen, it’s rather how you’re going to make sales pitches when you work for them. The object doesn’t really matter. The focal point is on how you think, how creative you are, how you manage your emotions under pressure, and how you gather information to get to know your target customer and then present the product in the way your customer wants to hear. You must know what they’re looking for in a pen, and what is important to them when they’re buying a pen. If you’re not asking the right questions at the start, you’re just guessing.
So, how would I answer? I would ask first, what is their favorite actor, and when they respond, i.e., “Sylvester Stallone”, I put a flair on my next response. You see, it’s not just a pen. When broke and down on his luck, Sylvester Stallone wrote the original screenplay for Rocky—one of the greatest sports films of all time—he used this exact pen. Don’t you want to own a piece of Sylvester Stallone’s legacy?
Tomasz Bartczak, Marketing Specialist, Passport Photo Online
Offer a Free Trial and Explain Terms of Sale
First, it’s standard to ask a series of questions about the customer—What need is this pen trying to meet for you? What other products have you tried in the past—why haven’t they worked out? Then you move to the personal pitch by offering a trial of the pen: “You know what, here’s what I can do. I’m going to give you this pen to use, free, for a week. Effectively immediately because I believe in this pen. The only way you will believe in the quality of this pen is for you to use it.”
After that, you set the terms and conditions of the sale by capturing their payment method and establishing a point of contact. Lay out the timeline expectations, that the pen should be returned by the end of the week if they’re unsatisfied with its quality. Lay out how you expect, as their sales rep, to handle this pen post-sale, whether there are rental and replacement terms, warranties, and apply these all to the pen.
Dustin Sitar, Director of Marketing and Operations, BriteCo Inc
Demonstrate the Problem Your Pen Solves
This kind of approach can be rare to find, but it guarantees sure-shot success. All you have to do is make the customer aware of any one problem the pen they use has. The solution should lie with the product you’re selling. Suppose, you market a pen that uses very light ink that doesn’t damage the paper. Ask the customer if the current pen they use has this issue. If that first attempt doesn’t open doors for you, don’t get discouraged—you can work your way through it.
Most of the time, your sales angle becomes the customer’s awareness of that problem. Since they never noticed it, they would want to fill that particular gap the product has. You can also delve into a more social angle. Sometimes, manufacturing companies might not be environmentally friendly. If you have a set of eco-friendly pens that are good in quality, consider your product sold. You just need to figure out the tricky part of connecting the problem to the solution.
Mark Blakey, CEO & Advertising Manager, Autism Parenting Magazine
Make Them Understand Why They Need It
Make sure the pen is in your possession, then say something like, “If this pen isn’t exactly to your specifications, let me give you my phone number and email address and you can respond at any time with that information.” It makes the interviewer realize, in that moment, that they need something to write with.
With this method, you don’t have to be pushy. You don’t have to be smooth. You don’t have to use million-dollar words. All you need to do, to be an effective salesperson, is to convince the potential customer or client that you’re selling something they need.
Emily Saunders, Chief Revenue Officer, eLuxury
Embrace the Challenge Happily
A question like this may confuse or throw you off guard, but you can impress the interviewer if you embrace their challenge with joy. If you love selling, then answering this question may be easy for you, and you genuinely express so. But in case you don’t have any previous sales experience, you may find yourself in trouble and feeling the pressure.
In such a situation, I recommend you express enthusiasm, settle your nerves with a long breath and make them feel like you’re happy to tackle this sale—because boy do you have a pen to sell them. Exude that confidence and comfort in your response. By putting on a smile and taking that moment to gather yourself, you’ve naturally positioned yourself to be in the best demeanor and mood to sell a product.
Tia Campbell, Director of Marketing, Practice Reasoning Tests
Consider the Buyer’s Needs
Approach this question from the perspective of someone talking to a prospective buyer. It won’t do much good to simply rattle off points about the pen itself without considering the context in which the “buyer” would need the pen in. Ask them questions like what their job is, how much writing they need to do for their job, what features they’d like in a pen, etc. Tailor your talking points to their responses by talking about a pen’s easily replaceable ink or rubber grip, and you’ll have approached this question in a constructive manner that’s sure to impress.
Jonathan Krieger, VP of Sales, Fabuwood
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