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sell me this pen zen senator club

I personally never thought anyone would actually say, “sell me this pen” in a sales interview. I was wrong. It will happen to you too. And to avoid panic, you should know exactly what to say back.

I am going to give you the right sales framework to respond perfectly every time.

On a quick side note, did you know this sales interview question has been around for millions of years? Its origins date back to the earliest of cavemen. Selling slingshots cave-to-cave. Except back then, they asked, “sell me this bowl of crushed berries.”

Anyways. The point is, one day it will happen to you and I want you to be prepared.

Because if you start to describe how smooth the pen feels and how shiny the pen looks, just like you saw in the Wolf of Wallstreet

You probably won’t get the job.

Why it matters to sell me this pen

At first, I didn’t realize why it mattered. It just seemed like a silly question. But, you’ll see.

When you become good at answering this question, you actually become one hell of a salesperson.

And that’s why people still ask it in interviews. It shows your creative approach and how good you are at actually selling product (not just reading your resume).

There are exactly four sales skills the interviewer is looking to see when you answer:

  1. how you gather information
  2. how you respond to information
  3. how you deliver information
  4. and how you ask for something (closing)

Now, since I had a lot of sales interviews lined up at the beginning of last year. I thought, I better practice my response just in case.

The “just wing it” strategy is best for making pancake mix, not for sales interviews.

So let’s go through exactly what you can say to address each sales skill. Because when you do it right, you will blow their mind!

Here’s exactly what you can say

Just to back up for a second, I had 26 sales interviews in a period of three months. Someone was bound to ask me.

Ok. The Director of Sales stood up and said, “it was great meeting you Ian. Let me go grab the CEO to come in next.” Moments later, the CEO of the 30 person startup walked in the small conference room.

Shortly after initial greetings, the CEO wasted no time to start the interview.

I practiced my answer beforehand. I made sure my answer displayed the four sales skills the CEO needed to hear.

Now you can read it for yourself. And then use it for yourself.

At the bottom, you can see a simple sales framework to memorize that will make this work for you in any situation.

You can memorize the script, but more importantly, memorize the sales framework at the end.

Here you go…

CEO: Do me a favor, sell me this pen. (reaches across to hand me the pen)

Me: (I slowly roll the pen between my index and thumb fingers.) When was the last time you used a pen?

CEO: This morning.

Me: Do you remember what kind of pen that was?

CEO: No.

Me: Do you remember why you were using it to write?

CEO: Yes. Signing a few new customer contracts.

Me: Well I’d say that’s the best use for a pen (we have a subtle laugh).

Wouldn’t you say signing those new customer contracts is an important event for the business? (nods head) Then shouldn’t it be treated like one. 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 BIC pens because they get the job done for grocery lists and directions. But we never gave it much thought to learn what’s best for more important events.

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.

Actually. You know what? Just this week I shipped ten new boxes of these pens to Elon Musk’s office.

Unfortunately, this is my last pen today (reach across to hand pen back to CEO). 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?

CEO: (picks jaw up off floor)  Yes.

See how simple that was. The CEO loved it. Why?

Because all four sales skills were displayed.

Here’s the simple sales framework I used to answer “sell me this pen”. Memorize it for yourself.

  1. Find out how they last used a pen (gather info)
  2. Emphasize the importance of the activity they last used a pen (respond to info)
  3. Sell something bigger than a pen, like a state of mind (deliver info)
  4. Ask for the buy (closing)

Free Member BONUS: Download my sales interview cheat sheet. I used this document to get 12 final round interviews in 19 days (real sample included).

Does that make sense? Yes. Ok, good.


Remember, it’s not about actually selling a pen. It’s about showing how well you can sell a product.

And even though there are an infinite number of answers to this interview question, it’s easy to memorize a simple formula.

Now that you have a formula, next time you need a quick, go-to answer, remember the Senator Club formula.

Take 15 minutes today to practice the script above. I promise you will benefit.

Plus, would you mind doing me a favor. Share this with ONE person in sales. It could save their career 😉

Do you want my next Sales Newsletter?
Nearly 2,000 members already subscribe. I want you to join.

286 Comments Best Answer to “Sell Me This Pen” I Have Ever Seen

  1. Harrison says:

    Mind blown! Nice post Ian.

    – H

  2. Mark says:

    Wow, that is powerful stuff there.

  3. Vanessa Shelbourne says:

    Hi Ian,

    I absolutely love it. Especially the rolling the pen between your thumbs. It sounds very persuasive to me.

    – V

  4. Elijah says:

    But what if he wasn’t using a pen for something as memorable as signing contracts? Something insignificant perhaps. Also, what if the pen he hands you is a standard BIC pen?

    • Ian Adams says:

      Fair questions Elijah. That’s what makes sales unlike any other business function. There are an infinite number of potential scenarios here. For the sake of an interview, follow the framework above to illustrate your ability to sell. Then once you get the job, think through and rehearse the most likely scenarios for the product you’re actually selling.

      • Hi Ian

        This is a great read. When I think of how to sell it if they had used it for smaller things, I guess you can go like Why not make those smaller moments memorable. Because life is not made of few larger things but of many smaller moments. And our pen is the best companion for you to make such things memorable.

        Isn’t tapping into the emotional appeal of the person is a crucial aspect of sales?

    • jesse says:

      If he were to say that he was performing a routine, mundane task, then you focus more on the reliability and durability of the pen. Relate the product to the scenario. If he uses the pen over and over to just write his name (and nothing more), ask what would happen if his name werent on the documents. Ask what he would do if he couldn’t write his with that specific pen. (“I’d grab a new pen or go find one.”) Then relate his answer to a problem scenario, such as “Well, I think we both can agree that would cause an interruption in your routine. It may be a small interruption, but an interruption, nonetheless, right?” (“Yes, I suppose.”) Then say “I guess that’s not that big of a deal. Definitely nothing to lose sleep over. Or is it? In an industrial facility, they usually give you an escape respirator. (Or relate it to any other important device) Do you know what that is? (If not, explain it to him.) Now, it’s an incredibly unimportant, meaningless device…..UNTIL YOU NEED IT! Let me ask you something. If, God forbid, a chemical leak occurred while you were in a dangerous facility, how safe would you feel with this respirator (*hold up pen)? You see, sir, corporate America is your dangerous facility, and they have chemical leaks multiple times a day. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the option that comes with comfort and peace-of-mind, knowing that my safety net is so durable and reliable, I’ll be safe no matter how far I fall. You see, THIS is your safety net.
      If they are selling a BIC, relate the situation he has to one that requires durability and reliabilty. BIC is the most commonly used pen in the world, and studies show that the decisions of groups are much better than that of an individual. There’s a reason that BIC is America’s most trusted brand. It stands for Bold Initiative and Courage. Now, what historical document can you think of that it took bold initiative and courage to sign? (“Declaration of Independence? “) Exactly! And much like our ancestors looked to the founding fathers to lead them, your company looks to be led by you. Are you BOLD enough to accept that responsibility? (*hand him the pen)

    • Perhaps I can give you a scenario for both:

      If he doesn’t use the pen for something significant, tell him the pen will motivate him to find something significant to sign – success breeds success. If he owns a pen that is made to make signing significant, significance will come his way.

      If the pen is an ‘ordinary Bic’ tell him it’s not ordinary. There’s a reason the Bic Crystal is one of the most sold pens in the world. But it’s not about the pen, it’s about the user. You see, this Bic Crystal sparked an interest in the ‘tactical pen’. Do you know what a tactical pen is? A tactical pen is a pen that can be used as a weapon. Almost every gun and knife producer has a tactical pen in their product line – Uzi, H&K, Kershaw, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Browning – they all have steel or titanium pens that can be used to kill a man. But the interest in tactical pens was sparked by a movie. The Bourne Identity, with Matt Damon. Remember that fight in Paris where Bourne snatches a pen from a desk, flicks off the cap, and uses it to defend himself against an attacker. And the pen he used? This pen. A cheap, plastic Bic Crystal. You see, these pens are everywhere, but that’s because they’re not just inexpensive, but they’re very, very strong, due to their hexagonal shape. Now, wouldn’t you want a pen that made pen history?

  5. Daisy Foster says:

    This is so helpful, I have a second interview for a sales job tomorrow and I found out that they ask you to sell them an item. This post has given me so many ideas that I can use. Now I feel like I can really get the job.

  6. Jacki says:

    What if the interviewer does remember the kind of pen they last used, but is the same situation otherwise?

    “Oh, it was a BIC pen.” Go off of the quality of the pen? BICs tend to be throw aways, after all.

    • Ian Adams says:

      Yes, exactly Jacki. You could even ask them to describe it for you. As long as you deliver the pitch with confidence, they’ll likely cut you slack in their responses.

  7. Daisy Foster says:

    Ian, I just wanted to say thanks again for this post. My second interview went great I sold the pen to the manager and he was so impressed he gave me a job offer. I start on Monday!!

  8. Hiroshi007 says:

    I say “this is a pen that JF Kennedy had used for the very famous peace contract.” to Japanese/Chinese. Not “the pen”.

  9. Raja says:

    Hi Ian,

    Amazingly described. It’s an eye opener. Loved the concept :-)

    Thank you very much.

  10. Mike says:

    Thanks Ian, really useful, loved the analogy and the framework – it fits pretty much any situation.

  11. Robert says:

    I’ve had this happen in an interview, but it was a clear plastic cup with 2 green lines and a recycle #…not a pen. Using your paradigm here are the projected answers:
    1) I used it to get a cup of water from the breakroom
    2) I guess it IS important for me to stay hydrated
    3) Yes when I am hydrated I am able to concentrate and be more productive
    4) I understand why I should stay hydrated, but why should I buy your cup when I already purchase ours from Staples who delivers the rest of our office supplies

    I guess what I’m getting at here is a plastic cup is a plastic cup. The only incentives I can think of are cost and ordering convenience. Is it OK to drive him to a cost conversation given the commodity nature of the item. Any ideas?

    • Ian Adams says:

      Hey Robert – You could go into detail about the cost, convenience, ergonomics of the cup design, ability to keep beverages hot or cold, durability, re-useability, etc. But ultimately, it doesn’t really matter which key benefit you choose. You’re being tested on your fundamental sales skills, not your actual ability to sell a plastic cup. Focus on illustrating those four key sales skills I mention above (even if you choose the cost conversation route).

      Anyways, I think it’s essential you stay hydrated. I’ve got this really great ion emitting plastic cup for sale 😉

  12. Greg Gum says:

    “Sell me this pen” Sales Mgr says to Sales guy.
    Sales guy takes pen, says “Are you going to a meeting today?”
    “Yes, I am.”
    “Your going to need this pen” hold up pen.
    Sales mgr takes pen.
    “That will be $10.00”

  13. Shiraz Ahmed says:

    Thanks for sharing such useful framework lan. But can you guide me how to sell recruitment services to a company? and what if a interviewer say I don’t have time I am busy then how to get him in the conversation? Please suggest.

    • Ian Adams says:

      First, take a look at the top 3 recruitment firms in your space. Analyze what works for them, messaging, marketing copy, call to actions etc, then make it better. Your first call with them (less than 2 mins) should be to schedule a second call with them (15-30mins). “I don’t have time now.”….”Oh of course, let’s find 15 mins early next week to talk. How’s Monday or Tuesday afternoon look for you?”

  14. Barry says:

    Hi there!

    I actually have an interview tomorrow morning. The job position is sales and it’s at a shoe store. I already had one interview last week, but they told me to come back for another one with a different manager.

    Well, my first interview went pretty good! It was very short… Took less then 10 minutes.

    Anyway, do you have any background knowledge or tips for my second interview?

    I would really appreciate any responses.
    Thank you!

    • Ian Adams says:

      Congrats on getting past the first one. My two cents: really sell yourself. Speak about all your past sales experience and accomplishments as being a big deal. Now is not the time to be modest.

  15. Kaleb says:

    Hi Ian, great techniques here. I just have a question about how you’d handle a certain situation.

    I used this technique here in an interview I had, and funnily enough I was asked to sell a pen. However when I asked him if he remembered what type of pen it was he replied ” it was a gift for my 21st birthday from my grandfather. it’s gold plated, made in switzerland and has my initials and birthday carved on” I replied with “….But we never gave it much thought to learn what’s best for for more important events. Now you have your grand fathers pen that was gifted to you, but I dare say that this pen in my hand is the pen for such events.” Was this a good response? What would you have done?


    • Ian Adams says:

      Haha sounds like an unqualified lead to me. I’m not going to pretend that this wouldn’t have thrown me off. Tough objection to handle. In situations like this, where I may not have a good answer for their objection, I often default to the “that’s exactly why you should buy this” approach. For example, “it was a gift from my grandfather, gold plated, swiss etc.”….”wow, that’s incredible. I bet it writes really well too?”…”Yes”…”Well, that’s exactly why you should buy this pen. With such a well crafted, personalized, sentimental pen from your grandfather you wouldn’t want to lose it. All I’m suggesting is you get that same quality writing experience whether you’re at your desk, in a meeting, or on the road without risking losing that valuable pen. I normally sell these by the case of 64 pens, but let’s get you set up with a pack of 6 to start. Then evaluate whether the rest of the office could benefit too.”

  16. Quennie Rubia says:

    Hi, I have no experience in sales yet but I really wanna venture in sales, can you give me tips on how can I get a job specifically in a Real Estate Industry?

  17. Ryan says:

    What if when you say “when was the last time you used this pen?” and the CEO responds “I’ve never used or even seen this pen, I thought you were selling it to me?.” The Ceo obviously has used the pen, but he’s saying it like it’s new to him. How would you go about it if he were to say something like that?

    • halobeast says:

      I’m nto an expert by any means, in fact, I’m here to learn, but I think instead of “the last time you used THIS pen”, you should say “A pen”.
      Or if it’s already too late, I suggest maybe following up by portraying that you have the good fortune of being the first to offer them this special pen” Though, from there, I’d be stuck haha

    • Alexandru Iftimie says:

      It is not about selling a pen. Every sale is about selling a story. About selling a “hope”. I was selling advertising and I found that managers didnt bought advertising space on newspapers or tv station but hopes… hopes that they can improve the company position on the market or hopes that they will stay on top…
      This is all about…
      I dont remeber the pen that I used at the final exam at university. I remeber I used a succesfull pen ☺

  18. Gwain says:

    How does this approach change if you are asked to sell services versus products? For example, instead of the pen perhaps the design services for a new line of pens.

    • Tom says:

      You could say something like,”This pen, though remarkable in quality and function, doesn’t say enough about your company. Wouldn’t your logo on this beautiful pen remind your client of the wonderful attention he received from you when he began the business partnership? Your design is imprinted not only on the pen, but also in the minds of your important clients.”

  19. Picaline says:

    Hi there. This was an interesting and useful read for me. However, you did not actually ask for the business? You simply offered to leave the pen with him and return the following week to collect or sell.
    The danger here is that you become as unmemorable as his original pen. There needs to be some clear follow up action, it’s a bit too casual.
    As a National Sales Manager, I would not have offered you the job. And this is exactly why I am doing this exercise with my team – because they are not securing the business or asking for it.

    • Ian Adams says:

      Once you get the “Yes”, you sign the paperwork and exchange money. My sales style is less formal than others. So in this case, when I ask, “what do you say?” – that’s the close. That style works for me. I hope you find reps with a style that works best for you.

  20. Isaac Rivera says:

    Hello Ian,
    Wow! I love everything you advise! Thanks a million! My issue is, I’ve been out of work for almost a year due to being terminated for my first time in my life and depression took the best of me. I don’t know how to close that gap now, what can I do to build confidence again?

    • Ian Adams says:

      Apologies for delayed response Isaac. Great to meet you. Here my suggestion, since I went through a little bit of that myself two years ago. Activity will get your confidence back. Rather than focus on “getting a job”, start small. Like in sales, start with a metric of activity. In your case maybe it could be get 4 interviews in the next month.

      Quick tangent: since you have been out of the workforce for almost a year, you probably need some practice selling your story to interviewers. So here’s what I suggest. Go apply for as many jobs as you can. Take interviews even for jobs you know you wouldn’t take (at least phone interviews). That way you get lots of practice to sell your story to different people. Overtime, you’ll start to get a sense of what does an doesn’t work. Plus, you’ll get a sense of what jobs you do and don’t like. The best part about applying and interviewing for some jobs that you wouldn’t take – there’s no fear of failure. If they don’t offer you a position, it doesn’t matter. You weren’t going to accept it anyway. If they do offer you a position, well great, you get to decide if you want to take it.

      Set activity goals. I interviewed at 28 companies in 3 months, until I finally accepted an offer. But I was submitting 3-5 resumes a day (avg 20/wk). The best way to do this: sign up for LinkedIn’s premium service. Beef up your profile and resume. Then search for jobs in your category. Do the one click resume submit. Forget about cover letters (they are a waste of time and nobody reads them).

      Set activity goals for the next 3 months. Month 1: 4 interviews at least. Month 2: 6 interviews at least. Month 3: 10 interviews at least. You got this Isaac!

      Does that help?

  21. Natasha says:

    I have an interview tomorrow for a sales position and this is a guaranteed question. I can now walk into that interview feeling confident that I would be able to sell them a pen! Get piece really appreciated!!

    Thank you,

  22. Ovaes says:

    Thank you for the solution i am sure it will definitely help.
    Jazak Allah Khair

  23. Sam says:

    I have a sales assessment day to attend next week and this was a fantastic read to calm my nerves for some of the activities that they are going to be throwing at us.

    Such a simple solution to a question that may of us (including me) can find daunting.

    Thanks Ian!

  24. Mike says:

    I was asked this question several years ago. The interviewer was immediately soured on my resume, because I did not have the technical background to know about his product offering. Then I was asked to sell a pen.
    I began by ASKING QUESTIONS.
    “You agreed to meet with me today to discuss my pen offering, do you mind me asking why you would consider changing vendors?”
    He told me he keeps breaking the pens, and then led to more questions.
    “How often do you break your pens?” -Several times a day
    “How many do you purchase a month?” -Hundreds a month
    “If you could change one thing about the design of the pens you use, what would it be?” -It would be more durable.
    Then I finally got to the one question that sealed the deal……

    “Typically I don’t run into customers that have your failure rate. Would you mind explaining to me how you use the pen that leads to it breaking?

    The interviewer sat up in his chair, and his eyes got real big. It was obvious I had him. HIs answer, “Well we have a punch press machine, and he found that the diameter of the pen makes the perfect sized hole. The only problem is that they are not that durable.”

    My reply: “So you are most concerned with the dimensions of the currenly pen. Would it be possible for me to leave with one or two of your current pens. I will have my fabricaton team work up a model of your pen, and then make up five samples for you in 316 Stainless Steel. This will give you the dimensions you require, and they should hold up extremely well. Obviously the material cost is more, but with the scrap rate you are incurring now the payback on your investment should be less than three months.”

    His reply: He stood up and said, how would like a tour of our offices. Then he proceeded to try to hire me in the parking lot before I left.

    The key to selling is questions. If you don’t fully understand WHY someone needs to purchase, then you are only left with selling yourself. Many sales people fall into the trap of assuming why the customer would want to buy from you. With good questions you can truly help the customer understand why switching to your product can solve a problem.

  25. Jessie says:

    Hi Ian, I just applied for a sales position without any previous sales experience. I was recently asked this question in my 3rd interview which caught me off guard so I responded with the only answer I knew from the wolf of wallstreet. I was told by my interviewer that I was bargaining and not selling but was still asked to come back for a fourth interview to meet with the VP of the company. I’m guessing they are on the fence about hiring me since I don’t have previous sales experience, but I keep reassuring them that I can be trained and the company offers an extensive training program. I have to prove that I am willing to do what it takes and that I can learn to be good in sales, so here I am, researching sales techniques so that I can perform at a high level. I made sure to let my interviewer know that I never give up and this will flow over into the objections that I will receive in sales. After I meet with the VP, I was thinking about speaking with the interviewer who told me to sell him the pen, and use this technique in order to show that I am willing to put the time and effort into enhancing my sales skills. I was going to have a nice pen ready for him and walk up to his desk and ask him when was the last time he used a pen and then follow up with the rest of the technique. I think once he sees that I listened to what he told me about not bargaining, but selling, he will know that I will not give up. I’m expecting him to laugh when it’s over because I’m pretty sure he’s not expecting for me to do this. Do you think this is a good idea?

    • Ian Adams says:

      Personally Jessie, I think that would be a boss move. If I saw you do that, I’d be blown away. That shows me how bad you really want the job. Plus, it’s a sign you invest in yourself and personal education to get good at sales.

      That being said, a lot of corporate managers are complete jackasses. Completely blind to future potential. All they see are paper credentials (resume). Sounds like you have nothing to lose here. Why not have some fun with it. At a minimum, they’ll remember you.

  26. Jordan says:

    so did you get the job from this interview?

  27. Nischay says:

    What if the person says that I have used the pen which is in my hand and about 10 mins before??

  28. oopsii says:

    What if they say I don’t remember when I used the pen? (lets face it….no one uses a pen anymore…..hell, I havent used pen and paper for the past 6 months maybe :/ )

  29. sarah says:

    Love it!

  30. Hiba Sultan says:

    absolutely impressive!

  31. Colt Kollock says:

    As a young 18 year old striving to gain a major in business and minor in marketing I’m sure that this will take me, I have no doubt in my mind! Thanks Ian!

  32. mits says:

    Hi Ian, that was really worth reading..I want some help man. I recently joined an IT company as Sales consultant. I am a fresher in this field of sales and dont have any prior experience. Our company is primarily focusing on softwares sales. Well, have to admit that i am struggling a bit now. Since its been just a month, what is basically do is kinda cold calling in search of prospects . I got trained for just a day and everything else i learned by myself. Can you please suggest me with some selling technique,the way i should pitch on for software sales, how i can i convince and so .I would really appreciate your kind reply

    • Ian Adams says:

      Thanks for the note Mits! that’s a bit of a long answer. without knowing your product, it’s all about identifying the biggest pain point for your customer that you’re solving, craft some compelling sales copy around it, then run a consistent campaign of calling and emails to book meetings. Focus on getting the meeting first.

  33. Ravi Jangid says:

    Recently i have joined one of the company. I had worked with few companies before but this time Manager asked me this question. Sell me this pen? but i am quiet say blah blah because i was not expecting this question from his side because i am IT technical guy. but after the interview i thought why he asked me this question. later i asked him what he want from that question. ” how I sell myself to company” or product of technical knowledge that’s all.

  34. faithabegail says:

    that was great i hope i can use that on my next interview….ttttnnnnxxx

  35. IZZY SERUWO says:

    hello Ian…..this is not about the pen it about gps tracking…acutaully i have failed to assure people that they need this technology in their cars to protect them from theft…….i have used your four approaches to sales but all in vain. its now a week and i have 0 buyers…… me pliz?

  36. Juan Veleizan says:

    Hi Ian my name is Juan and I loved your answer and your bio . I am a 16 year old trying to figure out the equity market and how to invest , ect . Ive been doing a lot of personal research and recently I’ve seen great movies lie Wolf Of Wall Street ,Boiler Room,Inside Job , and Trader that made me strive to gain even more knowledge . My step dad has taken to webinars and such events since I was 14 to show me these things so I don’t end up making less than 50 grand a year or flipping burgers. Basically I was wondering if you could maybe forfeit some of your time to do a quick chat on how you started in this line of work and some tips for a “whippersnapper ” as my grandpa calls me like myself. I perfectly understand if you can’t because of your schedule but any piece of advice would be great . – Juan

    • Ian Adams says:

      Juan – great to meet you my friend. I can tell you’re already on your way. Send me an email: ian [at] so we can find a time to chat.

  37. David says:

    I’m sure I will put my own spin on this, but I gotta say, I really like the framework. Impressive…

  38. Tammy says:

    Brilliant! That question had plagued me for a long time after bombing my very first sales interview for a position that seemed already out of my league AT THE TIME. I recently saw the movie “Wolf”, and of course it brought back that returned anxiety..although now I thought I had finally realized the right answer, but your’s was far more brilliant! Thanks for posting!

  39. Noah says:

    Hi David.
    I’m applying for a sales job, and one of my friends, who applied for the work told me, that one of the questions in the interview is “Sell me this cup”. The problem is, is that she has eight other identical cups, on the desk. He told me that it’s impossible. But I’m sure that I could sell to her, if there weren’t any other cups in the room. But how can I sell the interviewer an item, she already has eight of, right in front of me.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Ian Adams says:

      Definitely a tough sell. Since it’s a mock scenario, I think you’re at liberty to make stuff up. Like it’s “ion-neutral properties”…

    • Eman says:

      I know it’s a month since this was posted, but oh well.

      Perhaps you could add:
      “These cups only look identical. But they are not. They are imitations of the real deal: our cup. The world is full of imitations, but they have one thing in common: they try to imitate the best.”

      Or something along these lines. 😉

    • Stephen says:

      This is an interesting one, because of course your target could also open a drawer and take out another pen, in the pen scenario. But here’s how you deal with the 8 cups: Ask a question. “I notice you have quite a few cups, do you have a cat in the office which keeps breaking them? (smile)”. What you’re probing for, is how the person who sold them the 8th one did so, when they already had 7. Whatever worked to sell the 8th, should work to sell the 9th. Perhaps the person is a collector of cups, and each one commemorates an event. Ask if they’ve had any recent and/or upcoming events…and then “have I got JUST the cup for that!”.

  40. Jaton Lyles says:

    Hi Ian!
    Reading this article and the many comments thereafter has taught me that I have a great opportunity in the growth of my business if I can perfect the art of selling! Thanks for shining the light on this for me! You are very creative in your approach about such a frustrating topic. Thank you for taking the time to teach us! J.Lyles

  41. Angela says:

    This is brilliant Ian, I have a big sales interview tomorrow, this has really helped me, thanks

  42. Claudia Hilario says:

    This was by far the greatest response I’ve ever seen! Awesome, just awesome lol. Thank you!!

  43. El Chapo says:

    I came here because I was about to engage my partners in a similiar exercise and I figured I had the best response to this question ever! After to reading this I dumped all my old thoughts and replaced them with this formula. This is splendid work mate! Thanks for sharing

  44. Amir says:

    Actually I had this question one time in a interview! My response was difference and clearly your’s is so better :)
    Thnx Ian for sharing your experience. That was really great.

  45. Hello. Found you via Jill Konrath blog.

    Reminds of my 1982 nterview with Pitney Bowes in Montreal, Quebec Canada (90% French speaking province, I am 100% English so always tension).

    Interviewer asked me to “sell me this pen”.

    I said “I see you already have a pen, let be teach you how to write better”(para.).

    I was offered the “door to door” b2B sales job, but turned it down to join Digital Equipment DEC.

    (early version of challenger selling perhaps…haha)



  46. James says:

    Straight out of the Xerox PSS sales training course.

    And – you left a lot of features /benefits out !

  47. James says:

    BTW – if your REALLY want to see how good a person is in sales ….

    Hand them a blank sheet of white paper & say “Sell me this sheet of paper”

    Then see how much they have a command of the; needs / features / benefits / and close; of a sales presentation.

    (Xerox PSS level 2)

    PSS level 3 – trains you how to take command and direct the entire sales conversation – and close on your terms.

  48. […] panic, you should know exactly what to say back.good read for people who are going for interviews : Best Answer to "Sell Me This Pen" I Have Ever Seen […]

  49. leni says:

    Hi Ian. I have sales interview tomorrow. And this site really help me to get some ideas on what to do during the interview. Hope I can get the job;)

  50. Mark says:

    WOW! I love the way you explained it and your example is simple to understand and digest even for a nonsale person. I am a finance person, accounting to be more specific is my field. And, I always told myself I have no talent in selling. But reading this makes me realise that I think I can sell too. Your four skill set is easy to grasp and memorise. Thanks for writing this, this will surely help a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs and salespeople.

  51. Haha nicely done, Ian! Thanks for showing a different perspective and for dropping the jaws of a CEO!


  52. Mike O. says:

    I actually read something online that Jordan Belfort, he of the Wolf of Wall Street, said that the best answer to the “sell me a pen” question is simply to ask the interviewer, “Well, what kind of pen do you want?”

    It doesn’t matter how much you “sell” the pen to the customer if you don’t know what the customer wants in the first place. Thoughts?

  53. Mauro says:

    that’s really the best answer I have ever read! congrats

  54. Chris says:

    Wow! thanks for sharing :)

  55. Avneesh says:

    What if I the CEO had replied to the following question in a ay given below?

    Me: Do you remember why you were using it to write?

    CEO: Yes. Scribbling on a yellow post it note to stick it on my secretary’s desk to ask her to see me when she returns.

  56. Amita says:

    Great article, Ian! Very well written and easy to follow.

    I am interested to know what your answer would be to the question though if the CEO hadn’t given you the pen? If he had said “sell me A pen” rather than THIS pen. I have heard that question too and have been a little lost for an answer :)

  57. […] Here’s what Ian Adams had to say about that earlier this year in his post Best Answer to Sell Me This Pen I Have Ever Seen. […]

  58. Nathan says:

    A really enjoyable read Ian – agree with the structure and i’m blown away by the example. Its natural, concise, honest and very polished (from start to finish). Very inspiring stuff Ian – thank you. I will certainly be sharing it within my company and amongst friends.

  59. Jasmine says:

    Impressive write up there! Just wondering what is your suggestion if you are selling a phone instead? (With fierce competition among other brands where the specs are around the same or even better)

  60. Sanju Thomas says:

    Great Article and loved the structured way you went about with the sale. It is always easier to close your sale when you are selling “Experiences” rather than the product features. However isn’t the “Experiences” selling part more relevant to B2C rather than B2B? In case of B2B, the procurement department or the decision maker isn’t really worried about experience but the business benefit they gain from the solution. Would love your inputs.

  61. Sanju Thomas says:

    Great Article and loved the structured way you went about with the sale. It is always easier to close your sale when you are selling “Experiences” rather than the product features. However isn’t the “Experiences” selling part more relevant to B2C rather than B2B? In case of B2B, the procurement department or the decision maker isn’t really worried about the experience but the business benefit they gain from the solution. Would love your inputs on the same.

  62. Larissa says:

    Hi, I have an interview on Monday for Halfords. which is a retail store that sells bike,car,sporting equipment etc. I have written down all your pointers but i’m so nervous. I have very little confidence when it comes to on the spot situations and i know that the interviewer is going to want me to sell something to them. Do you have any tips for the incredibly shy? I really need this job! thank you :)

    • Ian Adams says:

      That’s a tough one. Start to consciously put yourself in socially uncomfortable situations. That’s the only way you’ll conquer shyness. Besides, one of the best sales guys I know is really socially awkward, but he sure isn’t afraid to ask any question.

  63. Beenie says:

    An extremely stupid question, imho.

    • Tom says:

      If you think this is a stupid question you must not have managed or been a part of any sales force…..

  64. BigDaddyDave says:

    I’ve dabbled in sales a bit. I have a similar script I use. The main difference is the close. Replace the Actually line down with . “Would you like to use a pen that empowers you? (Subtle Nod yes) Do you work hard for your money?(Nod again) Do you deserve this pen? (nod again) The get what you deserve! (extend for handshake)” Subtelty is the key to the head nods otherwise you look like a bobble head.

  65. Frank Miles says:

    “This is the tool you use to get deals done… 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.”

    Given that the logic here is basically horse crap (what you use to sign contracts is not going to bring more in), aren’t you just saying to your prospective employer that you’re perfectly willing to BS a customer if that’s what it takes to make a sale? Couldn’t that backfire with a more ethical CEO?

    • Ian Adams says:

      do you feel better Frank?

      • Tom says:

        I suppose the CEO could tell him that’s horse crap. It’s an objection that Ian would have to overcome. In response Ian could say something like, “On the contrary, feel the weight of the pen in your hand. It’s not cheap. You can sense the quality. When you sign the contracts it’s a celebration of your hard work. A sense of achievement. In fact, your customer would remember how important they felt when, after signing the contract, you present this high quality pen to him/her in this equally impressive felt-lined wooden case
        This could be your trademark with important clients. How many pens would you like?”

  66. Tim says:

    Your green sidebar item constantly stays right in the middle of the screen and overlaps the text, obscuring the article badly when reading on an iPhone. Any chance you can update the page style to mush it to the top or bottom? :-)

  67. Alesha says:

    Hi Ian, just read your post and absolutely love the structure!
    Was wondering if you could help me, I have a skype interview for a medical sales role next week and i’ve been told this question comes up. I was hoping you could give me some tips on how I could approach this question in an online environment. Many thanks

  68. Jovelle says:

    Oh you really saved my job! Hope to hear more techniques from you.

  69. Jovelle says:

    Very informative. Hope to learn more from you

  70. Rachel says:

    You’d lost my interest by the second paragraph, when you continued blathering about yourself rather than the question at hand – “how to sell a pen?”

    If you make the mistake of talking about you, how you feel, and how surprising you find the situation, and your views about how you feel…….don’t be surprised if you end up talking not just *about* yourself but *to* yourself in a sales situation.

  71. Raghav says:


    Firstly, i loved it very well written.

    I have been interviewing folks for my sales team, you won’t believe what happened today. A young gentleman from NJ came for the last round of interview, when i handed over the pen to him….he exactly said these words. I immediately asked him if he followed your blog :) he was very honest to answer YES. He is been hired…wanted to keep you posted.


  72. Stacey Jones says:

    Without coming right out and talking about the importance of listening to the customer and asking about their needs, you nailed it.

  73. Shu-jen Cruz says:

    Had this article been available 2 years ago, I would have known what to tell the call center company when they asked me to do the exact same thing. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. Looking back, I could only laugh at my juvenile act. I’ve polished my sales pitch since then.

  74. Jonathan R. Zuckerman says:

    I remember the last time I was asked this question. I was interviewing at British Airways for a temporary Reservations Agent position. The interviewer told me that the I work for a company that makes the clock on his desk, and we sell the clock for $100. The competitor sells the clock for $80.00, the exact same clock. Then he told me to sell him the clock. I had not prepared for that question, so I improvised an answer on the spot. I told him that our company has a lifetime guarantee on the clock so that if it ever malfunctions or needs repair, you can always call our toll free service department and get your clock working in good order at no charge to you. The BA hiring people did not make me an offer: Perhaps they didn’t like my sales approach (?) but as the job of Reservation Agent has been made obsolete by technology, it wasn’t a big loss.

    Thanks for showing me how to answer the question properly. You never can tell when it may come up again.

  75. Giang says:

    Hi Ian,
    How about selling service like legal consulting? Say an FDI is interested in investing into my country and I owned a local legal consultancy startup. Any ideas on this issue?
    More general question: If the startup is still in small scale, how would you approach customer without making them skeptical.

  76. Priyanka Bothra says:

    I guess this particular extract is amazingly useful . My placements are really close and I guess I am at right place & i really wish it works as I have applied for a job in a bank & the team is soon going to hit in to our college. Ian I really want you to share more of the Ideas in order to make us comfortable in answering in diverse situations.

    “Good Job”

  77. Tony Warne says:

    An amazing story and certainly a great response to his request to “sell him the pen”.

    I liked the fact you worked both conciously and sub-conciously, loved that you actually did ask for the sale and perhaps as important….. who spoke first? When i ask for the sale i force myself NOT to speak until after they do. Many people simply dont know when to ask for the sale and then shut up. They end up talking themselves out of the sale.

    Well done and thank you for sharing your skills :)

  78. Gary says:

    Wonderful insight and neat “trick”. I adopted your framework and it paned out. I just started working as sales and i must say your method is efficient and productive. Combined with a good verbal communication skills it can achieve miracles:) I always knew (and always used) that personalizing the product you sell, in order to have a more meaningful approach towards the buyer, is a better way to achieve your goals. Thanks again for the insight.

  79. Anne Roman says:

    Have one of the biggest interviews of my life tomorrow. 2nd interview! I don’t know what else she is going to ask me. Talked on the phone for 50 minutes last time. It’s with a company called an Internet listing service. Any suggestions? Haven’t been on an interview like this in years. Feel so nervous. I will be selling advertising to apartment communities for Internet exposure etc…

  80. rita says:

    It´s exactly what I need to know and practise these days, Ian! I can wonderfully adapt the formular to my own product which is not a pen but training people about smart decision making….. Thanks! Great post.

  81. Regina says:

    This post was so brilliant!! Thank you so much

  82. John says:

    Awesome post and lots of very useful info that I hope to eventually take on board. The problem is I have an interview in 4 hours and i’m worried that when I get put on the spot i’m going to go blank. I think my issue is that i’m too busy being worried that i’m gonna mess it up and not able to sit down and think clearly! I have no sales experience and i’m trying to get in to car sales where 99% of employers are looking for a strong proven sales record. Obviously I do not have this so i’m at a huge disadvantage and even if I do master the sales pitch, i’m still a potential risk to my employer!

    • Ian Adams says:

      I know the feeling John. The more certain you are about a career in car sales, the more convinced they’ll be as well. Let me know how it goes.

  83. John says:

    I aced it! Got a tip off a friend of mine who works in car sales. He advised that at the end of the interview I should ask whether there are any concerns or reservations about my application, if not then I should ask if they are in a position to offer me the position immediately. They thought this was brilliant as it showed I had the ability to ‘close’ an interview. Start work on Monday for 3 days of training including the ‘sell me a ______’ pitch. Any further advice? 😀

  84. […] I personally never thought anyone would actually say, “sell me this pen” in a sales interview. I was wrong. It will happen to you too. And to avoid panic, you should know exactly what to say back.  […]

  85. JB says:

    This was really helpful. I have an interview today and I am going to practice this so I can nail it in my interview…I am def expecting this question today.

  86. Michelle Yenny says:

    Hi Ian,
    It is my first visit. Just found your article thru Quora :)
    Thank you for writing this.

    Love how you presenting the answer in a simple way.
    Totally agree with you on asking the question in the first place rather than “bombing” them with features and benefits from the pen.
    Had a similar experience lately although not exactly about the pen 😀
    They looked genuinely surprised for me to ask some questions instead of straight forwardly tried to arise their interests over buying the product.

    Keep sharing wonderful posts, Ian. I’ve learned so much from you :)

  87. Gabriel says:

    That was absolutely fantastic to read, as someone who is a natural introvert and really bad at this kind of thing, it was awesome to read about the techniques used by what sounds like a master salesman 😀

  88. Ely says:

    Thanks for the tip Ian, like many people said I think it was an eye opener to give both a very real example of sales pitch and the 4 steps that you are adressing during your pitch.

    So from what I gathered, you say that even if the pen the interviewer is handing you is a cheap random pen like a BIC you’d go with the same pitch, pretending the pen is in fact of higher quality just for the sake of demonstrating those 4 sales principles ?

    Or would it be better to go with :

    When was the last time you used a pen ?

    Do you remember what you used it for ?

    -sign contracts, checks etc…

    How many coworkers work with you in this branch ?

    – 50

    So you’re telling me each of your 50 coworkers need a pen to work everyday right ?


    This pen is cheap , durable and does the job in all those business situations, the advantage is that you can get alot of them for little money.

    So by buying these pens, you wouldn’t just get your coworkers and yourself equiped with a tool that allows you to sign contracts, write checks , and so on, you would also cut down the costs of running your business and drive up its profits and this is why this pen would make you a more productive business man.

    And then the usual closing of course.

    What is your opinion on whether you should adapt the sales pitch according to what type of pen they hand you during the interview or not ?

  89. Ankesh jain says:

    Well, must say.. This article sure gonna change life of many sales person..

  90. Steve L says:

    Love this writeup … in fact, I’ve run into this question a number of times and you’ve perfectly outlined the guidance.

    However, what if the person asking the question isn’t so smart (or willing to role-play with you). For example, when you ask “When was the last time you used a pen” they might respond with “I have no need for a pen” or “I use electronic signatures” etc.

    This, unfortunately, is what I’ve run into. Most likely because the interviewer isn’t actually good but they’ve heard this question asked themselves and never figured out the right way to answer.

    Just curious. My experience may be the exception not the norm.

    • Ian Adams says:

      I’m not sure Steve. Maybe say to the interviewer, “Are we going to role play this or not? Someone with no need for a pen would never have invited a salesperson in their office. Nor would I have wasted my time visiting someone without a need.”

  91. ASHWIN says:

    Hi Ian, I see that you have written this answer even on Quora. Good one!

  92. Hasan says:

    that is really great response i m sure it will great help to us because
    Actually i was wondering how can we give such answer, and now we get the answer
    Great buddy great

  93. Ian, That was a great article! I have shared it with my partners. At 56 I am still excited everyday to get better at sales. I have a small company and I am constantly competing with smarter, younger, salesmen/saleswomen than myself. I work hard at perfecting my pitches and teaching my pitches to my partners. When I win a new clients business, it comes with the knowledge that I won the business by being the best. Sharing that knowledge now with my new partner is exciting and I look forward to sharing it more as my company grows.

    All the Best!
    Paul Hargraves

  94. Byrd says:

    If it’s a pen that the CEO gave me, a Bic type pen, I would respond by saying “No. You don’t need a pen.”

    Don’t sell people things they don’t need. That’s called integrity.

    • Ian Adams says:

      Haha I like that. Byrd, that reminds me of an old sales joke:

      Customer: You said these pants were pure wool, but the label says “all cotton.”
      Salesman: Oh, that’s just to keep the moths away.

  95. Val says:

    If you’d be writing an essay of why your product is the best what could you say

  96. Recobee says:

    Good afternoon Ian.

    First and for most i love this blog. And similar to what somebody else said, I was terminated from a job I had for a while and I’ve hand several interviews and never heard back from them. It kinda has lowered my confidence. I have an interview with Comcast cable for a sales position. I completely failed the first interview I had with them 6 months ago and im trying my best to nail this interview. It’s was one particular question that caught me off guard.

    Interviewer: What if a customer just came into the store and just said they no longer waited our service. What would you do ?

    Me: Completely frozen.

    What’s the best answer to that question ?

    And also what would you do if you’re unable to close a sales?
    thanks !

    • Ian Adams says:

      Ask them why they no longer want your service. If you sell umbrellas and your customer tells you they’re moving to Arizona, not much is going to change their mind. Find out why.

  97. josh says:

    This is a solid answer. AS an ex sales manager for multiple retail Verizon stores, for all who say we’ll what if it’s this or this or that. The point of this post isn’t to go into your interview and relay this word for word. Why? Because if the interviewer doesn’t respond back you wI’ll be stuck. It’s all about demonstrating a standard flow of the sales process. Introduction, client relavent facts, q & a, and present a valid solution to make your case as to why they need this pen. Cudos for this answer. Great demo of the sales process.

    • Ian Adams says:

      I completely agree Josh. There’s a lot of risk in memorizing the exact discourse. The flow of the sales process is certainly more important to understand.

  98. Simon McGovern says:

    Hi Ian,

    Your pitch was fantastic. I can’t say Iv seen a better 1 to this day.
    Questions are key and if you adapt your 4 principles in I don’t think anything is impossible to sell.

    • Ian Adams says:

      Thanks Simon! Really enjoyed reading that on this fine Saturday afternoon.

      • Mims says:

        Good evening dear Ian. First and foremost i would like to really thank you for sharing those, not only clever, but helpful tips as well, regarding the best possible way someone could sell a pen.
        I would be pleased if you could tell me how could i persuade an interviewer to buy a bottle of Perrier (water). It is about a possible question i will be called to answer next week, for a sales position.

        Thank you in advance for your time and answer.
        Best regards

  99. aaa says:

    This blog was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I’ve found something
    that helped me. Thanks a lot!

  100. Jacob says:

    Crap suggestion! Do not apply to all products/services.
    ps. have U deleted the comments, saying that this is a crap suggestion?

    • Ian Adams says:

      No I publish comments even when the opinion disagrees with me. I know plenty of others who think the same thing. It’s good to hear both sides. Thanks Jacob.

  101. Joey says:

    Finally watched Wolf of Wall Street and I was wondering how I would try to sell the pen. That led me here. Great advice, Ian!

  102. Andrew says:

    Hey Ian, I really enjoyed this thread. Thanks for sharing these tips, I find this information very valuable, And will recommend this to other people.

  103. daryl alcala says:

    wow great tips sir… you’re a great man…

  104. Nadine says:

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for posting this article. I’m a sales trainer and this really helped me modify my lectures and training. Looking forward to read and learn more from you. Any tips on telemarketing?

  105. Wanye Davis says:

    That was a nice exercise in tailoring the CEO’s answers to fit your scenario, but that was about it.

    The odds of the last task the CEO used a pen for being as important as signing sales contracts … slim to none

    The odds that he didn’t remember what kind of pen he last used … right around zero

    The chances of him using a disposable pen … right around zero.

  106. Tee says:

    Uploaded my cv for recruitment job, after few minutes my phone rang and I was asked to sell a pen ….. Gave the wrong answer and realised it was an interview at the end :-(

  107. Abrar says:

    hello, Ian i must say beautifully written and i was loving it without getting bored :) thanks, your post made me stick to the end.

  108. varsha singh says:

    This was cool stuff.
    I have my sales interview today, lets see if i am benefited

  109. Kiki R says:

    Hi Ian – this is a great 4 step format. What if it isn’t an object but a service (the company’s service that I am interviewing for)? And what if the end goal is a follow up call, not a sale? I have an interview next week with this scenario (its a role play). I’d love some tips!

    • Ian Adams says:

      thanks Kiki. The same rules will generally apply. And the scenario you described is more likely. That’s certainly the case in my day to day sales.

  110. amor says:

    having a week long boredom..on transition period..tired really. thanks for the simple and practical format. refreshed.

  111. rakshitha says:

    hi ian, i have an interview in an education firm which sells education packages like tutorials for competetive examintaions. they give samsung tablets wherein there will be an app which will have tutorials in that, so that if the student misses a class he can access the same thru the app without any internet connectivity. pls suggest me some key points n questions to ask

  112. Nicole Clinks says:

    This was great. Thanks alot. Now I can Sell a pen lol. Crazy thing is in my interviews when I’m being asked to sell a product I rocked it until I had the one about the pen lol until now. Thanks a bunch.

  113. Russell S. says:

    Ian, this is genius! Great article. I’d like your opinion on how to handle this question if perhaps the situation is something along the lines of trying to sell a nice pen when the interviewer only uses it for simple tasks such as taking down notes or another mundane task. Do you think an interviewer would be turned off by telling them this isn’t the pen for them and offering another hypothetical pen? I would assume that this shows that you are interested in listening to the customer and matching them with the product that is best for their specific needs. Thanks in advance!

  114. nawaz says:

    Sorry to say this but this is complete nonsense. A sales guy needs to be smart and should not follow a sales training manual for everything.

    A simple answer would be –

    “Here’s a cheque for $1 million that is valid for 30 seconds from now. Sign this form.”

    When the interviewer looks for a pen say “The pen costs $100.”

    You made a sale. Congrats.

    • Ian Adams says:

      That’s actually a creative idea Nawaz. Though, I think you would have gained more credibility from other readers if you left out the first line.

    • Michael says:

      This idea already happened to cross my mind, another comment above mentions it also. It addresses seemingly brilliantly the Offer & Demand question, but:

      1) it is outside any business logic the interview shall basically be conducted about: who would be ready IRL to lose $999,900 to close a $100 deal?

      In such a pitch, any prospective quidam would buy your pen to grab the million, so this will not assess you as a fantastic seller (just as a fast-bankruptcy leader!).

      Or at best, that you have some creative ideas and are able to reply quickly to the interview situation, already a good point ; although it does not show how you can manage further the next steps of your moves and stand as a full-process, responsible seller.
      Times of “sell-and-forget” are gone.

      2) ‘Sale made’? Not even sure. What if interviewer hands actually a $100 banknote? Draws another pen from his pocket within 30″? Your pay & lose $999,900? Is that really a closed “sale”?…

      Your hypothetical delivery form shall at least state that it must be filled with the very same, non replaceable,… pen you were handed.

      All those precautions to foresee in an acceptable scenario render the pitch too complexified to go beyond what it is: a quick & cheap reply to the problem submitted.

      But there is worse: it denies the test itself, bypassing the question goals in favor of a ready-made fake “solution” guaranteed to force a so-called sale in any case. This is not the testing was about in the first place and a good interviewer would not be fooled.

      Same goes with the slightly more simple & clever other suggestion posted (~”can you write down the question?” [=Sell me that pen]).

      There again, no care is taken about customer’s expectations, it just reverts to some seller’s concern – which could result in a brutal rejection (like “Can’t you really remind & understand my simple 4-word request?”) and a subsequent failure.

      Bottom line after deconstruction: as clever as these kinds of test answers seem, they are not since totally ignoring the 4-step negociation process demonstrated by Ian Adams.

  115. Guest says:

    Great post! I know this was all hypothetical and situation – but I’m curious, what would you have said if he had answered ‘yes’ to remembering the type of pen that he had used?

  116. javie says:

    hi Ian,

    I really like this. you know what i was in a interview this day. and the supervisor asked me to sell the pen that he was holding.. BUT i was buckled i actually don’t know what to say because it was actually my first job interview hahah but now if ever the company i am planning to apply will ask me the same question or ask me to sell anything I know now how to answer/sell it because you gave me a lot of ideas.. thank you it helps a lot.

  117. Daniel Luque says:

    It is great what you wrote. I’m new in sales. Do you have an advice for a newbie? What should I think when I get rejected?
    Have a good day!

  118. William says:

    Hi Ian

    Thanks for the piece, i had the same encounter when the CEO asked me to sell a pen, he sounded like a irate customer, because most of the questions I asked him he will say the opposite e.g the question ” I am sure you use pen for your daily routine” he said no. i was confused and didn’t know what to ask next. what was the best to have given at that instance..tnx

  119. Dom And says:

    Where can i buy one?

  120. Kirsten says:

    Wow this is great! What if they actually remember what pen they used though?

  121. peterJake-- says:

    . Ian, da really planNed pratically, selling product s always kinda depressing f u have nO chains of thought dat has storeD in our mind. .gotta often visit dis article.and use dis as my arm to keep on track of da current notion.THANKS VERY KINDLY, ALWAYS REACH OUT AND TOUCH. .

  122. Suresh says:

    This is really simple and awesome…

  123. Will says:

    Now thanks to Jordan Belfort and WOWS movie., the pen thing is lighting up websites , social media etc.

    Can anyone show me a offline real world exerpt from lets say a legitimate top Wall St firm’s Sales Training Documentation or from a actual published book pre wows books or movie?

    I’ve never been asked this question , ever.

  124. darliance says:

    wow i like the advice you’ve given out okay what if the customer has never used the product how do u go about it

  125. Joseph says:

    I think it’s a bit over analyzed here.

    The easiest way to sell that pen is to put a piece of paper in front of him and ask him to write something, or sign it. You have the pen. When you create a need then the pen will be sold quickly.

  126. ShahNawaz says:

    What if the person has last used a BIC pen for an ordinary purpose? what to do then?

  127. warlie says:

    tnx ian i have my interview tomorrow so im confident now that i read this it realy helps

    p.s if its a pen then its more likely to add some amazing speech so that it will add some positive aura to both of us!

  128. Melissa says:

    I happened to score past this yesterday scrolling through interview questions… And today at my interview I got asked the same thing.. Thank god for reading this article! I got the job on the spot! She was so surprised at how I had it all together. Thank you so much to the writer of this!

  129. Mark Anthony says:

    This was excellently exacuted, well done, I will be using it in my interview tomorrow morning… :)

  130. Mitch says:

    Very interesting, great read! To be honest I’ve never actually heard the correct response to that question. Thanks :)

  131. L Gagnon says:

    I was asked once to sell an ashtray to my prospetive manager; it went from the obvious change holder, creme brulé bowl, tip collector with integrated amount sensetive resonance, nuts& botls & washer holder, McGiver magnifier, cat milk bowl, intruder alarm, single usage weapon, and the old smoker’s favorite; a portable personal spit carrier(eurk!) . . .ran out of ideas. Apparently I had him at the tip holder, but he let me go on…

  132. Haitham says:

    Hi Ian,

    I have a solution business consultant after few days and apart of the IT technical knowledge sales knowledge is required.
    I’m so lucky to stumble upon your article, and the way you answered such tricky question was so brilliant !
    Sir, You made me more interested in mastering the art of sales. :)

  133. Nithin says:

    Well written.

  134. Laurence says:

    Hi Ian,

    Good job – i personally am a salesman and recently a sales manager – managing a team of top sales guya and have asked/ been asked that question on a number of occassions.

    I do like the ‘jaw dropping’ approach and very innovate but i felt that it was a little too car sales man

    Whilst i liked it i think if another guy came in and wasnt so wow factor but asked me more about me and what established my need for the pen and was just more interested in me i would of given the job to him.

  135. Quora says:

    What are some of the best responses to “Sell me this paper cup” or “Sell me this pen/pencil” in a job interview?

    > CEO: Do me a favor, sell me this pen. (reaches across to hand me the pen) Me: (I slowly roll the pen between my index and thumb fingers.) When was the last time you used a pen? CEO: This morning. Me: Do you remember what kind of pen that was? CEO: No…

  136. Bastian Johnston says:

    Years ago, FredHerman was a guest on the Tonight Show with host Johnny Carson (that is like being a guest these days on Larry King live or Oprah)

    When Herman was introduced, Carson welcomed him by saying, “You’re the greatest salesman in the world – sell me something.” Carson expected a razzmatazz sales spiel. Instead, Herman asked, “What would you like me to sell you?”

    “I don’t know,” Johnny replied. “How about this ashtray?”

    “Why the ashtray, Johnny?” “What is it that you like about that ashtray?” asked Herman. Carson listed the things he liked: it matched the
    brown colour of his desk, was octagonal and fulfilled the need for someplace to put his ashes.

    Then the Herman asked, “How much would you be willing to spend for a brown octagonal ashtray like that one?”

    “Maybe $20,” said Johnny.

    “Sold!” said Herman.

    How long did he take? 2 minutes flat!

    The power of questions…

  137. Quora says:

    What should I do if someone asks me to “sell me this pen”?

    Read this. You may get something from it on how you can be better at selling “this pen”

  138. […] came across this web-site today for salesmen. They tackled the famous sell me this pen question. Some pretty good […]

  139. Zack Tarling says:

    Ian,Great post!

    Is there any way I could put this into an everyday estate agent role as that is selling but maybe not something as insignificant as a pen or a cup so would be more difficult to get that wow factor when you make something so irrelevant all of a sudden have relevance?

    Appreciate your help.

  140. Caden says:

    DO we ask them for their pen or bring our own in an interview.

  141. Surjit Johal says:

    Hi Ian I have a sales interview today and was told I might get asked to sell a pen. A great concept and I’ve rehearsed it so fingers crossed I pass the first stage of two interviews , will let you know how I get on .

  142. victor says:

    Please CEO, let’s do things right here… I will sell you this pen if you ask me in black and white. Ups, do you need a pen?

  143. Amanda says:

    What if you are trying to sell a class to people who are members of your non-profit or have taken a similar class before? This is not the way I want to get students, but my boss is convinced that calling previous students gets the best results. I’m just not sure how to broach the conversation. I’m more of a teacher than a sales person, admittedly.

  144. Gift says:

    Hi Ian,thanks for being there,love your write up. I have an interview today,Pls how do I sell myself if I am told to do so?

  145. Mike Mindel says:

    – Interviewer: Sell me this pen.
    – Me: I see you already have a pen. Is the purpose of your question to see if I’m a good sales person?
    – Interviewer: Yes.
    – Me: How about instead I teach you how to ask better interview questions that actually test that skill rather than one I can read the answer to in a really good blog post? We’ll do each other both a favour.
    – Interviewer: OK. Sure.
    – Me: Great. Oh btw you’ll need a pen.

  146. Sai Kiran says:

    Gud Answer Lan.But since I am Dng Network Marketing r8 now I need some more tips from u to become successful in it.How CanI approach u?

  147. Esther says:

    Hello Ian,
    I will be having an interview for a sales engineer job and would like to ask what if the interviewer do not want to reply my question on when is the last time you use the pen and would wan me to focus on selling the product, how should I reply or react. Thanks

  148. Sam says:

    Can I ask – as you say at the end try it out and if your not happy I will come, ick it up and it won’t cost you – are you not selling on cancellation? I work in financial services and would be shot for that! Is there another way of closing this as I worry with you technique it would be an impulse buy and the frequency of buyers remorse may be high

  149. Tim says:

    the correct answer is that you turn around to face the room and begin the open bidding. then turn back around to jordan and offer to sell it back for a fraction of the price.

  150. Lynds says:

    Ian, Brilliant!

  151. nick says:

    Well I stumbled across this page whilst doing some interview prep…. and it certainly helped (first excercise: sell me some sunglasses – on a phone interview) two interviews later and I got offered the job today.

    Even better it was a huge change for me- moving from the somewhat defunct oil industry to tailormade travel sales! And comically they offered me the job, with no sales experience, despite one of the main essential skills being sales experience! All about those transferrable skills, a bit of research and practise! Good luck to everyone else!

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