Sell me this pen? Here is how to answer that question.

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.”

Anyhow. 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 Wall Street…

You probably won’t get the job.

Why it matters to sell me this pen?

At first, I didn’t realise 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:

  • how you gather information
  • how you respond to information
  • how you deliver information, 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 start up 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 memorise that will make this work for you in any situation.

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

Here you go…

CEO: Do me a favour, 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 the 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.” Memorise it for yourself.

  • Find out how they last used a pen (gather info)
  • Emphasise 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)
  • Does that make sense? Yes. OK, good.

Conclusion

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

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

 

|Article courtesy of SenatorClub.co|

Tough Interview Questions – Describe a major goal you’ve set for yourself recently.

Give an example of a goal you both set and achieved. Ideally, this should be a professional goal; such as improved time management skills, having achieved new performance targets, or learned a new skill. A personal example can also be appropriate if it reinforces your pattern of accomplishments. For example, if you take a great deal of initiative and quickly move into leadership positions, you might use a personal example relating to some recent community work e.g I organised a charity walkathon that raised £10,000 to enable us to purchase new computers for the local library. Talk about results of achieving your goal. This indicates you set realistic goals and that you can focus on end goals. Select an example that contains interesting outcomes that are related to your efforts. The example should showcase your skills and abilities.

Tough Interview Questions – Where do you see yourself five years from now?

This open-ended question is one of the most difficult and stressful ones job seekers face. Employers ostensibly ask this question because they are looking for people who know what they want to do and who are focused on specific professional goals. If you lack goals, you will have difficulty answering this question. Be sure you arrive at the interview with a clear vision of what you want to do today, tomorrow and five years from now. Be consistent with the objective on your CV and the skills and accomplishments you’re communicating to the interviewer. Your answer should be employer-centred. For example,

“In five years I hope to be working with an employer in an increasingly responsible position that enables me to utilise my talents and work closely with my colleagues in solving important problems. I see myself taking on new and exciting challenges in an enjoyable environment – hopefully this will be with your company.”

Do not indicate that you hope to start your own business, change careers, or go back to school. Such responses indicate a lack of long-term interest since you do not plan to be around for long. While some may respond that they honestly haven’t really thought that far ahead, the interviewer may infer from this that the applicant lacks vision and goals.

Interview Questions – Tell me about yourself

This is really more of a request than a question. But these few words can put you on the spot in a way no question can. Many quickly lose control of the interview during the most critical time – the first five minutes. This is not the time to go into a lengthy history or wander off in different directions. Your response should be focused and purposeful. Communicate a pattern of interests and skills that relate to the position in question. Consider your response to this question as a commercial that sells your autobiography. Provide an answer that includes information about where you grew up, where you went to school, your initial work experience, additional education and special training, where you are now, and what you intend to do next. One of the most effective ways to prepare for this question is to develop a 60-second biographic sketch that emphasizes a pattern of interests, skills, and accomplishments. Focus your response around a common theme related to your major interests and skills. Take, for example, the following response, which emphasises computers.

“I was born in Canton, Ohio and attended Lincoln High School. Ever since I was a teenager, I tinkered with computers. It was my hobby, my passion, and my way of learning. Like most kids I enjoyed computer games. When my folks gave me a computer as a reward for making honour roll my sophomore year, I mastered DOS, Windows, and WordPerfect within six months. I then went on to teach myself programming basics.

By the time I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to study programming. From that point on, everything fell into place. My life revolved around computing. By my junior year at Syracuse, I decided I wanted to work for a major software manufacturer. That is why I had an internship last summer at FastTrack Software.

I now want to work for a major player so I can be at the forefront of breaking trends and new technology. When my college roommate told me about his start in your department, I hounded him until he helped me get a referral, which brought me here today.

I am prepared to answer any questions you may have about my education and experience.”
This response sets a nice tone for starting the interview. The interviewee is able to say a lot within 60 seconds by staying focused. The message is clear: the interviewee has both passion and focus relating to the position. He stays on message and concludes by leaving the door open for additional questions about his education and experience. Unfortunately some candidates get off on the wrong foot by rambling on for several minutes about their childhood, family, hobbies, travels, and interests.

Repeat Key Accomplishment Statements

Throughout the interview you will be asked numerous questions about your attitude and ability to do the job. Whenever possible, talk about your accomplishments in terms of what you did and the results of your actions for employers. Give examples of your effectiveness, which should include specific skills and statistics.

Dealing With A Counter-Offer

Counter offers are a frequent event when resigning to move to a new employer and although at the time they can seem flattering you need to ask yourself why it has taken your resignation to get an improved offer and if the reason for the move is not purely financial how will your situation improve by staying?

The following points were taken from a recent Wall Street Journal article and each one is very valid and should be thoroughly considered:

  1. What type of company do you work for if you have to threaten to resign before they give you what you are worth?
  2. Where is the money for the counter offer coming from? Is it your next raise early?  All companies have strict wage and salary guidelines which must be followed.
  3. Your company will immediately start looking for a new person at a cheaper price. In many cases, you could be training your replacement.
  4. You now have made your employer aware that you are unhappy. From this day on your loyalty will always be in question.
  5. When promotion time comes around, your employer will remember who was loyal and who was not.
  6. When times get rough, your employer will begin the cutback with you.
  7. The same circumstances that now cause you to consider a change will repeat themselves in the future even if you accept a counter offer. Things about your position and company rarely change.
  8. Statistics show that if you accept a counter offer, the probability of voluntarily leaving in six months or being let go within one year is extremely high. 85% of people who accept are gone in six months, and 90% of people who accept are gone in twelve months.
  9. Accepting a counter offer is an insult to your intelligence and a blow to your personal pride knowing that you were bought.

Once the word gets out, the relationship that you now enjoy with your co-workers will never be the same. You will lose the personal satisfaction you once enjoyed from peer group acceptance.

7 things you should never do during an interview

When the job market is extremely tight, even the small stuff counts, especially when you’re on a job interview.  That’s why it’s so important not to say or do the wrong things, since that first impression could end up being the last one.

With that in mind, here are seven deadly sins of job interviewing.

1. Don’t be late to the interview

Even if you car broke down or the subway derailed, do everything you can to get to that job interview on time.

“If you have a legitimate excuse it’s still hard to bounce back,” says Pamela Skillings, co-founder of job coaching firm Skillful Communications. “People are suspicious because they hear the same excuses all the time.”

On the flip side, you don’t want to show up too early and risk appearing desperate, but you do want to be there at least five minutes early or at the very least on time.

2. Don’t show up unprepared

It seems simple, but countless people go on job interviews knowing very little about the company they are interviewing with when all it would take is a simple Google search to find out. As a result, they end up asking obvious questions, which signal to the interviewer that they are too lazy to prepare.

Don’t ask if the company is public or private, how long it’s been in business and where they do their offshore development. Sharpen your pencil before you go to school!

3. Don’t ask about salary, benefits & perks

Your initial interview with a company shouldn’t be about what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company. Which means the interview isn’t the time to ask about the severance package, number of holidays or healthcare plan. Instead you should be selling yourself as to why the company can’t live without you.

“Your interest should be about the job and what your responsibilities will be,” says Terry Pile, Principal Consultant of Career Advisors. “Asking about sick leave, pension, salary and benefits should be avoided at all costs.”

4. Don’t focus on future roles instead of the job at hand

The job interview is not the time or place to ask about advancement opportunities or how to become the CEO. You need to be interested in the job you are actually interviewing for. Sure, a company wants to see that you are ambitious, but they also want assurances you are committed to the job you’re being hired for.

You can’t come with an agenda that this job is just a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

5. Don’t turn the weakness question into a positive

To put it bluntly, interviewers are not idiots. So when they ask you about a weakness and you say you work too hard or you are too much of a perfectionist, chances are they are more apt to roll their eyes than be blown away. Instead, be honest and come up with a weakness that can be improved on and won’t ruin your chances of getting a job.

For instance, if you are interviewing for a project management position, it wouldn’t be wise to say you have poor organizational skills, but it’s ok to say you want to learn more shortcuts in Excel. Talk about the skills you don’t have that will add value, but aren’t required for the job.

6. Don’t lie

Many people think it’s OK to exaggerate their experience or fib about a prior dismissal on a job interview, but lying can be a surefire way not to get hired.  Even if you get through the interview process with your half truths, chances are you won’t be equipped to handle the job you were hired to do.  Not to mention the more you lie the more likely you are to slip up.

Don’t exaggerate, don’t make things bigger than they are and don’t claim credit for accomplishments you didn’t achieve. You leave so much room in your brain if you don’t have to fill it with which lie you told which person.

7. Don’t ask if there’s any reason you shouldn’t be hired

Well meaning career experts will tell you to close your interview by asking if there is any reason you wouldn’t be hired. While that question can give you an idea of where you stand and afford you the opportunity to address any concerns, there’s no guarantee the interviewer is going to be truthful with you or has even processed your information enough to even think about that.