“Sell Me this Pen.”
This my friends, is the most dreaded question salespeople are asked during the interview process. I can promise you this, if you interview for sales jobs in professional sports, sooner or later, they will ask.
There are a few reasons why it has become so popular, but also so difficult to answer. First of all, there is certainly not just one correct answer. More then likely, your answer must be tailored toward the interviewer in order for it to be accepted. Every salesperson and general manager has their own different sales style, so trying to match up their answer after only knowing them for a few minutes can be tough. Sure, you can be a great on the spot thinker and speaker (like most salespeople are) but at the end of the day, if you are making up an answer on the fly for this question, it won’t work out the way you’d like.
Lucky for you, I have what I believe to be the perfect answer. After hearing this question over and over in professional baseball interviews and rambling on like an idiot time after time, I decided that enough was enough. I was going to sit down, and come up with the most entertaining (but still professional) answer as possible. This is the word for word exchange from my last interview that I was asked “Sell me this pen.”
Sell me this pen.
Okay, do you use pens often?
Yes, of course.
When was the last time you used one?
Idk, a few minutes ago I guess.
What were you doing with it?
Signing some paperwork for ownership…
Do you know what brand and model of pen you were using?
Would you say that signing that paperwork is something you need to do in order to keep your job?
So if you decide to all of the sudden stop signing paperwork, you would probably get fired?
Sounds like a pretty important action then, right?
An important action like that certainly deserves an important pen, and this is one important pen that I have right here.
Here is what I’m gunna do, I’m going to leave this pen here with you for one week, when I come back- you can either pay me for it, or give it back, no charge. Do we have a deal?
I have used this answer a few times actually, and although the conversation can go a bit differently each time, the premise stays the same, AND the conversation was always controlled by yours truly.
Do you have a “Sell me this pen” technique that has worked for you? I would love to hear about it.
Alex Einhorn is the On-Field Host for the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball and co-founder of Baseball Desk. You can connect with him on Linkedin here.