The Correct Answer to "Sell Me This Pen"

A lesson from the wolf of wall street

“Sell Me This Pen”

Are you really in sales if you’ve never heard, “Sell me this pen”?

The question was made famous in the Wolf of Wall Street movie scene where Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) asks one of his friends to sell him a pen.

These days, it’s a common interview question and an easy way to find out how someone will react under pressure.

But if you’re basing your answer on what you saw in the movie scene, you’re probably answering this wrong.

Sell m this pen mee

So, what’s the correct way to “sell me this pen”?

How most people answer (and why it’s wrong):

When you ask most people to answer this, they’ll immediately jump into a feature-based pitch.

This typically sounds like:

  • “This pen is the perfect shape and each one is handcrafted.”

  • “This pen is made out of very expensive materials and is easy to write with.”

This is what we like to call the rookie method.

While these features might be cool, they don’t change the benefit that the buyer will get from the pen.

Rookie sellers often lead their pitch solely with the features of their product, rather than the benefits.

While features play an important role in many sales cycles, they should be saved until you’ve created interest from the prospect and verified that your product will give the prospect the outcome they want.

The movie answer:

In the movie, Jordan Belfort asks his friend, Bo Bodnick, to sell him a pen, and this is how it goes down:

Bo: Do me a favor and write your name down on a napkin.

Jordan: I don't have a pen!

Bo: Exactly…. this is supply and demand.

-Wolf of Wall Street, 2013

It sounds awesome in the movie, but would it actually work in real life?

Probably not.

In a normal scenario, someone would respond to Bo’s request with something like: “Why, do I need to sign my name on the napkin?” or “What’s in it for me?”.

Just like in action movies where the hero manages to beat up an entire gang of bad guys at the same time.

Does it look cool in the movie? Absolutely.

Would it actually happen like that in real life? Absolutely not.

The correct answer:

In a 2015 interview with Piers Morgan, the real Jordan Belfort was asked to “sell this pen”, and gave us some free sales training.

Jordan explained that the movie didn’t quite get it right, and the real secret to answering this question is using qualifying questions.

Piers: Sell me the pen.

Jordan: How long have you been in the market for a pen?

Piers: I’ve wanted a pen for 3 months.

Jordan: So you’ve been looking for a pen for 3 months now?

Piers: Yes.

Jordan: And what type of pens do you usually use when you use a pen?

Piers: I like a nice easy-to-use, ballpoint pen.

Piers Morgan Interview

Do you see what he did there?

He qualified his prospect and gathered more information to sell with.

The issue with the “sell me this pen” exercise, is that the person selling the pen has no context on the prospect.

Does the prospect know what a pen is? 

Are they actively looking for a pen? 

Do they actually need a new pen?

Your goal is not to sell your product to every single person. Your goal is to sell your product to those who need it and can benefit from it.

Always start with qualifying questions.

TLDR Takeaways

  • Don’t lead with features when you’re selling.

  • The answer in the movie sounds cool, but it’s not realistic.

  • The correct way to answer “sell me this pen” is by asking qualifying questions. Remember, not everyone is a fit for your product.

Have you ever been asked to "sell me this pen" in an interview?

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Sales Tip of The Day

Create your cold call qualifying question. Every cold call script needs one.

This can sound like:

  • So, are you already using a software product for xyz…?

  • Is this a topic that your team discusses on a regular basis?

  • A lot of people I speak to in your role are doing using XYZ to do this. Is that what you’re using too?

Based on their answer, you’ll decide where to go next (more about their pain points, schedule another call, etc.)

This question allows you to make sure the prospect is actually a good for your product or service and allows you to guide the prospect to the next part of the conversation.

Sales Meme of the Day

Graphic of The Day 📊 

Source: DKNewMedia

And that’s a wrap!

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