When preparing for a sales-oriented job interview, you need to be ready to answer challenging questions that exhibit your skills and qualifications for the job. Interviewers for this particular job role typically ask questions that can indicate your ability to sell since they want to know which applicants are good at selling and their selling techniques. In addition to indicating your ability to sell products and qualifications as a salesperson, your answer to sell me this pen question can also demonstrate your communication skills, which are key for this job role. Getting this answer right will not only help in demonstrating your salesmanship but also show the interviewers that you can understand the needs of the customers, you can build a good rapport with the customers, and how well you can perform under pressure. In this post, we discuss why it is important to get this answer right, why all applicants should know how to give a good product pitch, tips and tricks you can use to give the best response, and some samples to help you create your own engaging sales pitch.
But why is it important to know how to answer this interview question?
Interviewers typically ask applicants for sales and marketing focused roles to create a sales pitch on the spot, which can be a key deciding factor as to whether you land the job or not. The interviewer is trying to how well you can craft an engaging product sales pitch without having any prior preparation to see your salesmanship and skills as a salesperson. The role of a salesperson heavily involves impromptu sales pitches, why are the interviewers intend to see how well you can sell, and what techniques you use to appeal to the customer.
How to Answer “Sell me this Pen” at a Job Interview
During a job interview, the interviewer may ask you to sell them a random object, such as a pen, pencil, ruler, and so on. Since it is a hypothetical question, there is no right way to answer this question. But the employer is more interested to see your ability to capture the clients’ attention in creative ways, as well as your verbal skills and enthusiasm.
But there are certain tips you can remember while crafting your sales pitch that can make you stand out from all other applicants and leave a lasting impact on the interviewer. Here are some of the strategies that can help you answer this question in a way that appeals to your interviewer.
1. Ask questions to understand your client.
Before you start pitching your pen to your customer, you need to identify your client’s needs, or in this scenario, the interviewer’s needs. You can only understand the client’s needs and what they are looking for to ask the right question. This is why asking questions plays an important role in gathering more information.
Understanding your customer is an extremely important factor often looked over by applicants. It is important to help you understand if you are targeting the right person to pitch your product and tailor your pitch according to what their needs are, what they are looking for.
Maybe they don’t need a pen, or maybe they have a certain price range in mind. Knowing exactly what your customer wants by asking them the right questions can help you craft your pitch appropriately based on their needs. You can also use the information you get from your clients to know what points you need to make and which ones you need to avoid to make a convincing pitch.
Some questions you can ask the customer include:
- When was the last time you used a pen?
- What are some things you look for when buying a pen?
- Which pen do you typically use?
- Which pen do you like to use?
- What are the things you like and dislike about the pen you are currently using?
When you ask these questions, keep in mind to take it slowly and only ask a few questions relevant to your pitch. If you ask all these questions at once, it may confuse the interviewer, and it may too much information to work with. To maintain clarity and coherence in your pitch, only ask some of the questions mentioned above. You are also free to formulate your own questions as long as they are relevant to your pitch.
2. Focus on the features your client will value.
Once you have gathered sufficient information on your interviewer’s needs and their potential uses for the product you are pitching, you should make sure you highlight relevant features the interviewer will value in the product. In case your customer is actually not looking for a pen, this will focus on some aspects and features that might be of interest to them anyway.
3. Know how to create demand for your product.
Creating demand may sound like a challenging task, but it is critical to make a pitch. The most crucial part of selling a product is the demand for your product in the market.
There are two main reasons why customers buy a product. First, the customer should need to buy the product. Secondly, the customer finds the product desirable, and the product meets their satisfaction.
Assessing the market and selling a product that is in demand is easy. But creating demand and promising a unique customer experience is more strategic and requires creativity by tapping into a point of interest that captures the client’s attention and makes them want to buy the product due to customer satisfaction. This will be elaborated on the following point.
4. Discuss user satisfaction.
Any good salesperson knows that customer satisfaction is a key selling point for all customers. Any customer purchasing a product would want an excellent and promising user experience above everything else.
This is why shifting the focus of the pitch from the product and to the customer is important. You want to establish an emotional connection between the customer and the product. The perfect way to do this is by simply elaborating on how the product would add value to their life, rather than going over the product’s features. You want to make the customers think this product will make them happy through a unique product experience.
Simply skimming over the product features would not be of any interest to the interviewer; they want to see applicants pitch their products in creative and interesting ways, rather than the same old selling techniques.
5. Create a positive product image.
It goes without saying that no one would be interested in buying a product they don’t find impressive. So, understanding what your client likes and dislikes about the product is a vital component of your sales pitch. By understanding your client’s preferences, you can discuss and highlight the positive aspects of your product that the client will like. Similarly, you can draw their attention to your product’s positive aspects by explaining how it overcomes the limitations of the product they are currently using.
It would be best if you also talked about why your product is better than other counterparts available in the market. What makes your product different? Help them understand the unique components of your product and why they should choose your product over others.
6. Relating the product to a larger concept or idea.
By relating your product and its significance to a larger idea or concept, you are going beyond its obvious uses and features and portraying the product to have more value than previously imagined by the client. This will also highlight your innovative thinking and make you stand out from the other applicants.
7. Focus on establishing long-term relations with clients.
If you want your customers to come back, you need to make sure you don’t treat a sale as a one-time transaction. Loyal customers are precious for any seller, so to retain customers, you need to establish a good rapport with the client. It would be best if you aimed to focus on building long-term relations with the client, and you need to show your interviewer that you know the value of a loyal customer.
By showing this to your interviewer, you are also demonstrating your good salesmanship.
8. Know your product through and through.
To sell a product, you also need to ensure you learn a few things about your product. Even though you don’t necessarily talk about your product’s features, it is important to know your product through and through.
This is because you need to be ready to answer any questions and queries that your customer, and in this case, your interviewer, might ask you. You should know enough about your product and its features that you can answer these questions with ease.
9. Be positive and enthusiastic.
You need to ensure you are enthusiastic and give out positive energy to make sure your clients reciprocate the same energy right back. You want to present yourself as someone excited to pitch their product. You might say something like, “I cannot wait to tell you how this pen is going to change your life.” You should take note that the non-verbal elements of your pitch, like your facial expressions, body language, and tone, are just as important as the words and content of your pitch. So you should make sure you use this to your advantage and demonstrate your enthusiasm to highlight your confidence in your product’s value.
10. Probe for reservations and objections about your product.
Eliciting reservations and objections about a product and overcoming them is a crucial component of the sales process. After you have pitched your product and discussed the unique points and the numerous benefits of your product, go back and gently probe the interviewer to discuss their thoughts on the product and what they found lacking. This can help you determine if the interviewer is convinced with your product and offer countermeasures if they have any concerns that would stop them from buying the product.
11. Make an attempt to close by asking them to make the purchase.
A good salesperson knows the importance of an effective closer for the presentation. It would be best if you were not afraid to ask your interviewer for their business at the end of your pitch. A good, effective closer includes a request to serve your client. At the end of the presentation, you want to make a convincing closing statement that makes your client want to say “yes.” Making sure you integrate it into your pitch organically instead of forcing them to buy the product is also key to ensure your customer actually goes through with the purchase.
By demonstrating your ability to make an enthusiastic and effective closing statement, you can show the interviewer your salesmanship, and it will help you secure the job you want.
12. Don’t hesitate to be creative.
Interviewers do not expect you to be absolutely factually correct when you are crafting a sales pitch on the spot, so you can be creative with your answer, as long as your pitch is plausible and realistic. Being original and creative will also help you demonstrate that you have qualities and skills that make you stand out and showcase your good salesmanship. Being confident in your delivery and how you pitch your product can make all the difference, so remember to be enthusiastic and confident when presenting the qualities of your product.
How NOT to Answer “Sell me this Pen” at a Job Interview
1. Don’t decline to give a response.
You have to give a response. This is a key aspect of the interview, both for you and the interviewer, as someone who is being interviewed for a sales role, saying that you are not comfortable answering or that your response is not how you would actually sell the product would diminish your prospects of working with the company. Your sales pitch should reflect your skills and ability as a salesperson, and you need to demonstrate to the interviewer why they should hire you over other applicants. So if you try to avoid answering this question, it might not be beneficial if you want to get hired. Try to maintain a positive attitude and give an answer that demonstrates your salesmanship.
2. Don’t solely focus on the features of the pen.
A pen is a pen, and the interviewer knows the job of a pen. Although you should know what features your pen offers, focusing solely on the features and technical details of the pen will result in a boring presentation and most likely not end with a purchase made. It would be best if you focused on appealing to the interviewer by establishing an emotional connection between the product and the interviewer or elaborating on why owning your pen would benefit the interviewer. Discussing how the product will add value to the customer’s life instead of listing features is a much better strategy to use in your pitch.
3. Don’t close your pitch on a negative note.
To make sure the customer goes through with the purchase and establish a good rapport with the customer, you need to make sure your pitch doesn’t end on a negative note. Any good salesperson knows how valuable loyal customers are, so you should make sure your customer comes back. You need to emphasize building long-term relations, and the final statement can determine what kind of an impression you leave, so make sure you leave a positive, lasting impression.
4.Don’t lie or brag about the product you are selling.
Being creative is great for your pitch, but lying about the product’s features or bragging about its utility is not the way to go. The interviewer knows exactly how a pen works, and the pen you are selling is not magical, so resorting to lying and bragging about its features would not put you in a great light. A good salesperson knows how to sell a product despite how simple that product may actually be. So instead, you should show the interviewer your ability to sell ordinary products in interesting ways.
5. Don’t give in to the pressure.
The interviewer is trying to see how good you are at your job and how well you work under pressure. They may try and make the situation hostile, but you should focus on keeping your cool. Sometimes when you are actually working with a customer, they may be cold or not receptive, so you should know how to navigate this with a composed attitude. You should demonstrate your ability to remain optimistic even during difficult situations and overcome them with reason and optimism.
“Sell me this Pen” Sample Answers:
There are some critical sales approaches, and we will take you through them below.
- Value-Added Selling Approach
This is a standard approach that is more centered on the product than the customer’s needs. The intent is to focus on the products and their features and qualities that may interest the customer. This is a common approach to making a pitch, but it can be boring and repetitive, so use it wisely.
Sample Answer 1
“This pen is unique for many reasons. For starters, it has a unique build that stands out from its counterparts.
The pen itself is made from a combination of aluminum and carbon fiber, and the gold metal clip gives it a splendid touch.
And this is not even the best part.
The pen itself comes with refillable cartridges, and the ball-point flows so smoothly over any kind of paper.
Why don’t you give it a try and see for yourself? I’m sure you will be tempted to buy it once you have used it.”
- Solution-based approach
The approach focuses more on the customer and their needs than the product itself. It is a much better approach as it takes an existing problem and uses it to highlight its product as a direct solution.
Sample Answer 2
“If you don’t mind me asking when was the last time you used a pen? And were you satisfied with it?
As someone who writes a lot, I’m can understand how awful it must be to have your pen running out on you.
The ABC pen not only has an excellent build, but the ink easily lasts for months and writes seamlessly without leaking, unlike the pen you are currently using. And you don’t have to worry about getting refills, the pen comes with ten cartridges that will last for a long time.
The pen also has an excellent grip and a fine metal ballpoint tip that will certainly give you a memorable writing experience.
I am certain buying this pen would be a decision you don’t regret!”
- Problem-Creation Approach
This is by far one of the most effective approaches to making a successful sales pitch. This approach aims to find and highlight a problem in the customer’s current product and introduce your product as a direct solution. It can be a little tricky to find a problem in their product, but it is extremely effective.
Sample Answer 3
“Do you mind telling me which pen you are currently using?
Oh! But doesn’t that pen leave ink stains and deep impressions on the page? Oh, you hadn’t noticed it before? Well, why don’t you try and see for yourself?
Our XYZ pen utilizes a ballpoint ink that doesn’t leave any stains behind. It is also very light and writes seamlessly. And the next time you write, you wouldn’t have to worry about impressions and ink marks.
Would you like to try it? I’m sure you wouldn’t be disappointed!”
It is important to remember that ultimately, this exercise aims to display your ability to make an effective sales pitch and exhibit your salesmanship. So before your interview, remember these tips and practice answering the question so you can leave a lasting impression and secure the job.
also read: MBA Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)