You may very well be familiar with the old interview inquiry aimed at uncovering how crafted your sales technique is, where the interviewee is asked to “sell me this pen”. If you watched The Wolf of Wallstreet, this is entirely familiar.
Maybe you’ve been asked this question. Maybe you will never be asked this question. One thing is certain though, if you know HOW to answer this question, your sales in whatever product or service you are trying to communicate, will dramatically improve.
In sales, we always try to highlight features and benefits. The pen is ergonomically designed, has a long life, writes smoothly, etc. but a well-crafted sales “presentation” should likewise extend well beyond this.
In particular, there are four “elements”, or “actions”, that one should pay attention to (and which the interviewer above is really looking to uncover). These are the stages of:
- Gathering information
- Responding to information
- Delivering information
- Asking for the close (getting them to say yes)
Using these elements in the appropriate point in the sales “presentation” or “pitch” (I tend to dislike the latter term because it creates the wrong mind-set) could sound something like this:
You: Holding the pen up, perhaps rolling it slowly between your fingers – “When was the last time you used a pen?”
Prospect: “Just this morning.”
You: “Do you remember what type of pen it was?”
Prospect: “No, not really.”
You: “Do you remember why you were using it?”
Prospect: “Yes, to sign a contract with a new customer”
You: “Well, that’s a great use for a pen” (polite chuckle) “Signing a new contract is clearly an important event for your business. Wouldn’t you agree?” (The prospect nods his/her head.) “What I mean by that is, here you are signing new customer contracts, an important and memorable event, all while using a very unmemorable pen.”
“We grew up, our entire lives, using cheap blister-pack pens because they get the job done for grocery lists and directions. That’s fine, but this is the pen for more important events. This is the tool you use to get deals done. Think of it as a symbol for taking your company to the next level. Because when you begin using the right tool, you are in a more productive state of mind, and you begin to sign more new customer contracts.”
“Just this week I shipped five new boxes of these pens to Mark Zuckerberg. Unfortunately, this is my last pen today (hand the pen to the prospect). So, I suggest you get this one. Try it out. If you’re not happy with it, I will personally come back next week to pick it up. And it won’t cost you a dime. What do you say?”
Pretty simple, right? This is how the four stages unfolded:
- Find out how they last used a pen (gather info)
- Emphasize the importance of the activity they last used a pen (respond to info)
- Sell something bigger than a pen, like a state of mind (deliver info)
- Ask for the buy (closing)
I wouldn’t avoid adding in a piece about the features and other benefits of the pen, or using many of the other techniques you may have in your arsenal, but rather to compliment them by including the four sales skills listed above.
Does that make sense? Try this technique. You will be surprised at the boost in results you should see.