12 thoughts on “Sell Me This Pen”

  1. How can I help you with a pen that (name a feature or two)? OR Are you asking me to do this because you want a pen that (name a feature or two)? Why?


  2. This disposable plastic pen offers an ergonomic grip and a retractable medium-weight roller tip. Is that something you want now … or not?


  3. There are two options in my comment above. Both are stated a little differently, and as if in response to someone calling in on an inbound call. Neither response is pure Werth-onian, but I am keeping to the principles of HPS, at least in my mind.


  4. This is a golden one! I remember Jacques teach me about this when I asked him the same thing.

    This literally happened to me early in my sales career at mortgage broker role interview when I had no formal sales training.

    Jacques answer? (Loved it)

    He said: “If you ask me that, I’d ask, what type of pen do you want?”

    And then he left it there.

    In sales, this silly question can be quite the “bear trap”.

    I go with Jacques answer all the time to disqualify persuasion-dependent answers.


  5. This is a really good question to ask since I wouldn’t be surprised if a sales mgr asked it.

    I’d probably ask, “Is this the pen you want”?

    If the answer is yes, I’d say, “Okay, cash or credit card”?

    If the answer is no, I’d say, “Do you want to look at any other pens I have “?

    If the answer is “no”, “Okay. Is there anything else I can help you with?


  6. I might answer: “I’m sorry, but that’s not how I do business, to sell you a pen that you just freely handed to me. I do, however, make sure that any deal I accept, works for both of us, and that’s why I’m applying for this sales position. Am I someone that you want to hire?”


  7. Or, “That’s not how I do business. I will not sell you a pen… that you gave me for free. If I sell for your company, any deal I make must work for both of us. Do you want to hire me?”


  8. I love this one. “Sell me this pen?” One veteran sales friend of mine said he’d give it back and say “goodbye”. (I’ll spare you the stream of swear words.) Some of the Trekkies in the group might go the Kobayashi Maru route, as High Prob is how Midshipman Kirk beat the simulation. https://www.startrek.com/database_article/kobayashi-maru

    As to the Werth-ian approach, I can imagine Jacques smirking a little and then being fun to watch.

    My experience in interviews, sales and otherwise, is that all of the ideas posted will work very well, because the interviewer is secretly hoping they themselves don’t have to answer the question.

    I’d ask the interviewer how they expect me to sell the pen, in their organization, using their sales methodology. Then listen and know whether I should disqualify the opportunity. (Hopefully without the Werth-ian smirk.)


  9. Sell Me This Ashtray

    Fred Herman has been called the “Greatest salesman who ever lived.”

    Years ago, Fred was a guest on the Tonight Show.

    Johnny Carson introduced him by saying, “You’re the greatest salesman in the world. Sell me something.”

    Carson expected an enthusiastic sales pitch. Instead, Fred Herman asked, “What would you like me to sell you?”

    “I don’t know,” Johnny Carson replied. “How about this ashtray?”

    Fred then asked Johnny, “Why the ashtray? What is it that you like about this ashtray?”

    Carson said it matched the brown color of his desk, it was octagonal and fulfilled the need for a place to put his cigarette ashes.

    Then Fred asked, “How much would you be willing to spend for a handsome brown octagonal ashtray like this one?”

    “Maybe $20,” said Johnny.

    “Sold!” said Fred.


  10. Steve Alexander sent this to me by email:

    “Aha! The old “sell me this pen” ploy. That’s a tunnel with no cheese, for it assumes you can talk the prospect into buying, which is a mistake. The appropriate action is to ask a question, such as “Do you want this pen?”


  11. Tom Schrade sent this to me by email:

    I’d start with the 13 questions

    Do you want a pen?
    Do you need a pen?
    A pen can cost between 1$ and 50$. Are you prepared to spend that.


  12. Here are my own thoughts about what I would do if an interviewer asked me to sell him the pen.

    First, I would pause and reflect on a very important question. “Why am I here?” I’d remember that I am not here to persuade the interviewer to give me a job. I am here to find out if I want to work there or not. One way to find out is to show him a quick demonstration on how I sell. If he doesn’t like that, I’d rather find out now than later.

    After that little pause and reflection, and with his pen in my hand, I would ask, “Do you want this pen?”

    If he says yes, I’d ask him why.

    If he says no, I might find someone else (hopefully where the interviewer can hear me), and ask that other person if they want this pen. Or, I might just put the pen in my pocket, and ask if there are any other questions.

    If the interviewer objects in any way, I would probably say, “This is the way I sell. Will that work for you?”


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