Sales Basics; sell me this pen!
Have you ever been asked to sell the pen or anything else at an interview?
Got to drop this joke : Guy goes for a sales job interview and the Interviewer gives him his laptop and says; “Sell this to me.” The candidate picks it up and walks out, 30 minutes later he calls the office from the pub down the road and says “350 quid for the PC and the job!”
I am surprised sell me this pen is not asked more often but it is the very best way to find out if the candidate has the basic sales skills needed. Here is how it should be done:
Before I dive straight in I am not a believer of the Jordan Belfort ‘create the need’ strategy, if the person has buyers remorse at the end then he feels tricked. there is pro-active selling e.g;
Selling umbrellas in rainy season outside bus stations and train stations.
Seeing sports gear outside stadiums
It is just basic target marketing, but manipulating a need from nothing is a little sinister, and there is little longevity for the salesman who tricks clients.
When asked to sell the pen the very first question out of the candidate’s mouth should be:
“Is Sir/Madam looking to buy a pen right now?”
Anything else out of the candidate’s mouth is an abject failure!
All too often so called Sales people launch straight into their pitch, when really the person may not in the market for a pen, it is vital the candidate demonstrates they understand that if they are going out to see a client it is only because they have demonstrated a genuine need, and that the candidate understands target marketing.
The Interviewer will then probably continue with
“Yes I need a pen!”
There are millions of people who call themselves sales people who are trying to sell things to people who really have no desire to buy. Find out first before you waste your breath!
The Interviewer should continue with the next question if it was not immediately clarified with the first answer:
Is Sir/Madam looking for a pen TODAY?
“Yes I need a pen now”
Pointless trying to sell to anyone that does not already want your product right now Which is what basically 80% of so called sales people try to do each day.
The interviewer could say; “Actually I need it for next month” Then the candidate should say ” Okay fine, let me schedule to get back to you next month” Selling at the right time is pivotal.
Next question; and again anything else is a taxi home without the job offer!
“Does Sir/Madam need their partner to look at this pen also or can you make a decision independently today?”
Finding out who has the decision to purchase is paramount, because whether you are selling to the public or corporate, so many times the client could use this as a smokescreen to not give you the order, they often say:
“Oh well I need the Missus to see it next before I can buy it”
Then the Sales person has lost!
Once the Interviewer has confirmed they have the decision power to purchase today then the candidate must demonstrate the next part of the test clearly:
“This pen is priced between £10-40, is that what Sir /Madam expects to pay for a pen of this quality?”
No point traveling to see somebody who expects to pay much less for the item, you have lost before you start!
Once these questions are asked and satisfied, then you can make up a pitch and it’s irrelevant what you say as long as you demonstrate features and benefits:
This pen sits nice in your hand. So you can write beautifully
This pen has Gold-lining: So your potential clients feel you are successful
This pen has 15 miles of ink. So it will last 5 years
3 F.A.B.’S is the magic Number!
Then the close I always go with:
“Does Sir /Madam need a second one for the partner?”
This little test will demonstrate all the basic things any decent sales person should know like:
Targeting, timing and scheduling, decision making, benefits over features, closing and the ability to ask the right questions so as to value the time a sales person has, and use it wisely for themselves and your company!
As a salesperson I always used to ask if they were going to use the same pen I sold them to sign my employment contract today?
Alan Johnston is a Fellow of the Institute of Sales and Marketing and has ten years Blue chip and Government body sales experience in his CV and now trains companies how to sell effectively and market online through his company: