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How can you respond in a unique way to "Sell me this pen" during an interview?

How can you respond in a unique way to "Sell me this pen" during an interview?

  • Why do interviewers ask this question?
  • How to answer the “sell me this pen” question
  • 1. Ask questions
  • 2. Use a problem-creation approach
  • 3. Highlight its unique features or perks
  • 4. Close the sale
  • Tips for giving the best answer to “sell me this pen”
  • Example answer to “sell me this pen”
  • Key takeaways

When hiring for sales positions, interviewers love to ask the “sell me this pen” question. Delivering a memorable answer can set you apart from others they’re interviewing. Learn how to craft a great “sell me this pen” answer that can lead to your next sales job.

There are some questions you’ll hear in a job interview. If you’re interviewing for a sales role, “sell me this pen” is one of those questions. There are some strategies you can use to impress a potential employer with a great “sell me this pen” answer and improve your chances of landing the job.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • Why interviewers even ask this question in the first place

  • How you can form the best answer to “sell me this pen”

  • Tips for answering this question successfully

  • Examples you can use for inspiration as you prepare for an interview

Why do interviewers ask this question?

In interviews for sales positions, “sell me this pen” is a common question to receive. Sometimes, interviewers may ask a variation, like “sell me this notepad,” but they usually ask this type for similar reasons. 

The question can help an interviewer assess:

  • Your sales approach. Your answer provides insight into how you may communicate with potential customers and sell them a company’s services. In other words, it shows an interviewer your sales approach.

  • Your response under pressure. Sales can be a stressful role. An interviewer may use this as a stress interview question to gauge your confidence and poise under pressure.

  • Your ability to close sales. As a salesperson, you’ll need to be able to close sales. This question can help an interviewer evaluate your ability to close sales successfully. 

How to answer the “sell me this pen” question

If you have an interview for a sales position coming up, take some time to prepare for this question. Follow these four steps to give a great “sell me this pen” answer:

1. Ask questions

The best salespeople know how to adjust a pitch to meet a prospective customer’s unique needs. When responding to this interview question, ask questions to tailor your pitch as much as possible. How often do you use a pen each day? What’s the biggest factor you consider when choosing a pen? What frustrates you about other pens? Some other examples may include: Do you have a preferred pen, and what do you like most about it? Can you describe your idea of the perfect pen?

2. Use a problem-creation approach

There are several options for the approach to use. You can talk about the value of the pen you’re selling, like its smooth ink or rich color. You can frame the pen as a solution to a problem, such as the need for a pen that doesn’t bleed through paper. The one strategy that can set you apart from many other sales candidates, however, is the problem-creation approach.

The problem-creation approach essentially makes a customer (or in this case, the interviewer) aware of a problem and then presents a product as the solution. You can do this by asking specific, focused questions to lead the interviewer to a logical conclusion. 

Here’s an example of how this might go:

Interviewer: "Can you sell me this pen?"

You: "Absolutely. How often do you use a pen on a daily basis?"

Interviewer: "Almost every day. I use a pen to take notes in meetings and jot down ideas that come to me while I’m away from my desk."

You: "I see. Have you ever needed to write something down and noticed your pen has run out of ink or faded to the point where you can hardly read what you’ve written?"

Interviewer: "Yes, that has happened to me on several occasions."

You: "Wouldn’t it be great if you knew your pen would last for months without needing to be replaced, even if you used it almost every day?"

Interviewer: "Yes, that would be fantastic."

You: "Well, you’re in luck. I’m selling this pen, which not only comes with smooth, rich ink but also lasts nearly twice as long as other average pens on the market. When you have this pen at your disposal, you can feel confident it won’t run out of ink when you’re on the go. It also comes with refillable cartridges, so you don’t need to keep replacing your pens every few months. Can I interest you in trying it out?"

3. Highlight its unique features or perks

Another good strategy for this question is to identify the pen’s unique features and highlight them in your response. Does it have an unusual ink color? Does it have a special grip? Has the manufacturer produced this pen for many years? In your answer, emphasize a few of the pen’s top features or perks that may motivate someone to purchase it.

4. Close the sale

Just like a real sale, end with a closing pitch. A strong closing statement shows an interviewer your ability to make sales—plus, it leaves a positive impression that will last long after you’ve left the interview. To effectively close, briefly summarize the pen’s features and emphasize how purchasing the pen will help the interviewer solve a problem. End by asking the interviewer to purchase the pen.

Here’s an example of a good closing statement:

"This pen has a comfortable grip that won’t make your hand cramp when you’re taking detailed notes at your next meeting. Would you like to give your hand a rest and purchase this pen today?"

Tips for giving the best answer to “sell me this pen”

Here are some additional tips for answering this sales question:

  • Be confident. An interviewer will be assessing your tone and confidence just as much as your answer. However you choose to respond, project confidence by speaking calmly and staying positive.

  • Create a connection. Aim to create a connection with the interviewer so you can base your pitch on their needs. When possible, describe specific instances in which the pen can provide value.

  • Practice your answer. Don’t be caught off-guard by this question. Instead, practice your answer ahead of time to feel more comfortable with your sales approach. Ask a friend or family member to practice with you so you can ask them questions to guide your pitch.

Example answer to “sell me this pen”

Here’s an example of an answer that presents a problem to a solution and creates a connection with the interviewer:

"You’ve said that you don’t use a pen very often in your day-to-day life. When was the last time you can remember using a pen? Oh, to sign your daughter’s birthday card last week? Happy belated birthday to your daughter! I hear all the time how people never use pens anymore since everything has become more digital, but it’s simply not true. There will always be a reason to have a pen handy, like when you’re signing heartfelt cards for your loved ones.

The next time you have to sign a card, wouldn’t you prefer to have a pen that writes smoothly, looks great, and doesn’t dry out between uses, no matter how long it’s been since you last picked it up? This pen I’m showing you ticks all those boxes—and then some. It’s the perfect pen to write your daughter a meaningful note and show your love on her next birthday, so how many would you like to buy today?"

Want to practice your “sell me this pen” answer and get valuable feedback on your response? Use Career.io’s interview prep tool to practice your pitch and get custom, AI-powered feedback!

Key takeaways

  1. Interviewers often ask sales candidates to sell a pen to evaluate their sales strategy and response under pressure.

  2. Ask questions and use a problem-creation approach to show an interviewer your ability to connect with prospects and meet their needs.

  3. End your pitch with a strong statement that shows you know how to close sales.

  4. You can review example answers for ideas and guidance about different ways you can answer this question.

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