The Best Response to “Sell Me This Pen”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Finally, after a few long weeks, I was able to spare some time to rewatch one of my favorite movies, The Wolf of Wall Street. For you who haven’t watched it, it’s a black comedy movie where Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed Jordan Belfort’s career as a stockbroker in New York City and how his firm, Stratton Oakmont, engaged in obscene, rampant corruption and fraud on Wall Street, which ultimately led to his downfall.

“Sell me this pen”  is  the most memorable question in the movie that I really find fascinating; it’s one of psychology tricks that is still relevant today in regards to persuasion and marketing. In fact, it’s a quite common question in sales interviews.

Now, if you are asked the very same question, I bet most, if not all, of you will start responding by describing and rambling how great the pen is, its durability and functions, and so on—is that right?

My friends, I would humbly congratulate you as you’ve successfully dug your own pitfall, and you ain’t gonna go back once you are there. You know why it doesn’t work like that? Well, the first impression the client saw was the approach of a poor salesman. Let’s be real now, everyone in this planet (unless you were raised by Mangani great apes like Tarzan) knows what pen is and how it works, right? You simply don’t want to jibber-jabber a stream of obvious, boring information and the functionalities of the pen. Just don’t; no one will be impressed.

Want to turn the pitfall you just dug into a grave? Easy—just keep explaining the competitive advantages of it and submerge your potential customers with technical words and off-topic arguments.


So, the question now is….how do we respond to “Sell me this pen”?

The only you need to do is to narrow down the prospect’s needs by asking a series of targeted questions. As shown in the video below, Brad created an urgency, a problem by asking Jordan to write his name on a napkin, and at the same time he had prepared the solution.


Another example in a sales interview:
Interviewer: “Do me a favor, sell me this pen.”
You: “When was the last time you used a pen?”
Interviewer: “This morning.”
You: “Do you remember what kind of pen that was?”
Interviewer: “No.”
You: “Do you remember why you were using it to write?”
Interviewer: “Yes. Signing a few new customer contracts.”

Well, I’d say that’s the best use for a pen. Wouldn’t you say signing those new customer contracts is an important event for the business? 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 Mark Zuckerberg’s office. Unfortunately, this is my last pen today. 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?”

Interviewer:  “Yes”.


Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to learn these questions and answers by heart; I want you to assimilate the framework, which consists of 4 important and powerful sales skills:

  1. Collect the information. Discover when was the last time they used a pen and why; you will be able to discover who your prospect is; if s/he is someone who doesn’t have anything to do with a pen e.g. a chef, then just move on. After all, not everyone is closable, thus, don’t waste your time and move to the next target.
  2. React to the information. Emphasize the importance of the writing activity—emotionally engage them.
  3. Offer information. Sell more than a pen: a mental state, an opportunity; show that other customers who are already happy with the product.
  4. Close the sale. As long as the prospect is closable and once you manage to convince the prospect by demonstrating how this pen can be the solution they are looking for, you just successfully trap them into an offer they simply can’t refuse—kaching, kaching, baby!


This isn’t just selling, it’s one of The Art of Selling. Master this framework, and you will close anyone who is closable.
Now, here is the challenge; why don’t you sell me this napkin in the comment below and let’s see what you’ve learnt so far?

Happy Closing!

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