Sell Me This Pencil.

One of the most common things you will hear in an interview for a sales position is, “Sell me this pencil.”

This is a typical role playing exercise that is conducted in interviews so that the hiring manager can learn about your sales technique and thought process. You may be asked to sell the interviewer a stapler, piece of paper or anything else, but the basic process should be the same. This is not the chance for you to talk about the skills you would use in a hypothetical situation. Use this opportunity to assume your salesman persona and actually try to sell the person sitting across from you this pencil.

Points to Emphasize

Regardless of what you are trying to sell, you need to keep the following points in mind.

  • Focus on what the customer needs rather than aspects of the item

  • Ask questions to gain insight into what the customer needs

  • Relate what the pencil can do to what the customer needs

    • Always close the deal at the end

    This can be a make-or-break moment in a lot of interviews. Nailing it can instantly getting you the job while underperforming seriously jeopardizes your chances.

    Mistakes You Should Avoid

    In order to show a prospective employer that you are the best person for the job, avoid making these mistakes.

  • Don’t give a lengthy explanation of how you would sell the pencil, actually try to sell the pencil

    • Don’t give too much focus to the pencil at first
  • Don’t be disrespectful to the customer/interviewer

  • Avoid giving up if it feels like you aren’t doing well

    Being asked to sell something during an interview is extremely common if you are applying for a sales position, so prepare beforehand so that you are ready if this comes up.

    Sample Answer

    An exchange for this sales pitch should go something like this:

    Let me ask you something: how often do you use a pencil

    (Pretty frequently)

    And are you happy with the pencils you are currently using

    (They’re fine)

    I don’t think something you use as frequently as you say should be just “fine.” I think you should have a pencil that offers exceptional results. A pencil that doesn’t break and ruins the aesthetic of whatever it is that you are writing. This pencil gets the job done right every time.

    (Sounds pretty good)

    All I’m asking is that you give this pencil a shot. If you aren’t completely satisfied, feel free to bring it back, and I’ll give you a full refund.

    The exchange does not have to go exactly like this, but it should follow the basic points listed above.

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