10 Best Ways to Answer “Sell Me This Pen” in an Interview

The sell me this pen interview question is common for a sales interview. Your interviewer will ask you this question to understand your sales process.

The best approach is to act like you love the question, then use open-ended questions to assess the customer’s needs. Pivot from questions to statements to create demand. Finally, demonstrate the most important part of the sale, a strong close to seal the deal.

Here are ten examples of this type of question and examples of the best responses to show you are the right person for the sales position and leave a lasting impression on the hiring manager.

10 Best Answers to “Sell Me This Pen” Interview Question

#1. Your Goal: Selling a Pen as a Gift and Overcoming Objections

Applicant: It’s an eye-catching pen, isn’t it?
Interviewer: Yes, it’s very nice.
Applicant: What are your specific needs? Are you looking for a pen for yourself or as a gift?
Interviewer: It’s a gift for my son. He just got a promotion at his work.
Applicant: Wow! You must be very proud. That’s a great achievement, and a pen is a great gift. It’s something he can carry with him and use to sign important documents, and every time he uses it, he will be reminded of your support.

Interviewer: Yes, I thought a pen was good because it’s something practical and memorable.
Applicant: Do you know if he would prefer blue ink or black ink?
Interviewer: I’m just looking, thank you. They seem a bit expensive.
Applicant: You know, you’re right. These pens are not for everyone. They’re exclusive and mainly bought by high-flyers and business executives after big achievements. But you see, you are not giving an ordinary pen. You are giving the gift of confidence and recognition of achievement. It’s the kind of gift that will show the type of person that you view your son to be and the value you place on him as a person.
Interviewer: He has achieved a lot.
Applicant: Exactly! And this pen will show that to everyone who sees him use it and remind him every time he picks it up. So, would you like that gift wrapped?

#2. Your Goal: Selling a Generic Ballpoint Pen

Applicant: So you are looking for a new pen?
Interviewer: Yes.
Applicant: And what kind of pens are you looking at? Do you prefer a gel pen, fine liner, fountain pen, standard ballpoint pen, or something else?
Interviewer: I like a nice, simple, easy-to-use ballpoint pen.
Applicant: And what do you use your pen for?
Interviewer: Well, the truth is I don’t write very much. I like to use a paper diary. I find I remember dates and events better by writing them down physically, so I only use my pen when I am adding an event that day, so only for a few minutes every day or two.

Applicant: So you only need a simple, practical pen that performs functionally, but it doesn’t need to be fancy?
Interviewer: Yes.
Applicant: However, you do need it to be reliable because you can’t afford to forget to write something down because your pen wasn’t working or sound unprofessional on the phone saying, “um, ah, let me find a pen that works.”
Interviewer: Correct.
Applicant: This is the pen for you. It’s a quality, reliable ballpoint pen. Its simple construction means there’s nothing to break, and it will always be there when you need it. Do you just want the one or would you like a 10-pen value pack?

#3. Your Goal: Selling to an Artist with Specific Needs

Applicant: So you are in the market for a pen?
Interviewer: Yes.
Applicant: What do you use a pen for most often?
Interviewer: I’m an artist, so I am looking for a quality pen that produces sharp, crisp lines with a deep, even color, and it needs to be reliable.
Applicant: Of course, there’s no erasing and trying again when drawing art with a pen. You need to know the tip will perform the same and produce the same line, depth of color, and texture whenever you use a given technique.
Interviewer: Yes, consistency is important.
Applicant: What color ink would you like?

Interviewer: It’s just for outlines, so black is the most common one I use.
Applicant: Black, got it. Fine tip or broad tip?
Interviewer: Fine, 0.3mm.
Applicant: Great, here is the pen I would recommend. It’s made by Staedtler, they’re a quality manufacturer, and they provide a guarantee on all of their fine liners. They’re well known for having a smooth and even ink distribution without causing blotting, even on thick art paper, and their fine tips produce sharp lines without gouging the paper.
Interviewer: That sounds like exactly what I need.
Applicant: Did you just want the one in black, or there’s a 3-pack with blue and red and a 10-pack with assorted colors, including black?
Interviewer: You know what, that’s a good idea I’ll take the 3-pack and I’ve got all my bases covered.

#4. Your Goal: Demonstrating High-ticket Selling Ability

Applicant: When was the last time you bought a pen?
Interviewer: Probably a year ago.
Applicant: Was it for business or personal use?
Interviewer: Personal.
Applicant: And what kind of pen do you typically buy?
Interviewer: I buy all kinds, sometimes a regular pen, but I own nice ones too.
Applicant: Now, when you say a nice one, do you mean a nice one or a really nice one?

Interviewer: A very nice one.
Applicant: What is the most you have ever spent on a pen?
Interviewer: $200.
Applicant: $200? Well, then, we have a problem here.
Interviewer: What’s the problem?
Applicant: Well, this pen costs a lot more than that.
Interviewer: How much more?
Applicant: This pen here costs $1000.

Interviewer: $1000!?! For a pen? Are you insane?
Applicant: You’re right! Most people don’t understand the value of this pen. This pen is the go-to pen of the best salespeople and executives, used by many to sign their most important documents. This pen is for a man who wants to make a statement. This is a pen for a man who wants to share incredible stories with his colleagues. Is that you?
Interviewer: Yes, I want to make a statement with my pen!
Applicant: But you wouldn’t spend $1000 on a pen, would you?
Interviewer: Yes! I have $1000.
Applicant: Well then, the pen is yours. Congratulations.

#5. Your Goal: Creating Desires in a Disinterested Professional

Applicant: How long have you been in the market for a pen?
Interviewer: About three months.
Applicant: And how often do you use a pen nowadays?
Interviewer: Not often, only to sign contracts.
Applicant: And those contracts, are they sales contracts, company checks, and employment contracts?

Interviewer: Yes.
Applicant: So they are significant moments that are indicative of the work and progress you have made to get to that point. So, therefore, you deserve to have a quality pen. I have only been talking with you for a few minutes, but I can sense you are someone who is professional, who sets high standards, and who expects nothing but the best. Is that correct?
Interviewer: Yes, that describes me.
Applicant: Therefore, you need to have the best! Now, this pen costs $70.
Interviewer: Wow, that’s an expensive pen. This pen cost $1.

Applicant: Yes, but that pen you have there doesn’t reflect you as a person. This pen here embodies your essence and makes a statement to others about who you are, not only in its appearance but also in the quality of its writing. Don’t you want a pen that makes a statement about you?
Interviewer: Yes, I like to make a statement.
Applicant: Now I want you to take this pen and try it for seven days and every time you sign an important contract or document, be mindful that that is a symbol, a moment of all the work you have put in, and it is representative of the person you are who is successful! Call me in 7 days if you’re not completely satisfied and I will personally come to your office to take it back. Do we have a deal?

#6. Your Goal: Completing Fast-paced Sales (Presumptive Selling)

Applicant: Here, take a look at this pen. Hold onto it for me.
Interviewer: Okay.
Applicant: Now, take a close look at it. Take a few moments to soak in the details and the finish and feel the quality of the construction.
Interviewer: Yea, it’s a nice pen.
Applicant: Here, take this piece of paper and write down the things you specifically like about this pen.

Interviewer: (Writes down what they like about the pen).
Applicant: Okay, so you like how it feels in your hand, you like the weight, and you like how nicely it writes. So you would enjoy owning a pen like this?
Interviewer: Yes, I think I would.
Applicant: And would you like that in blue or black?
Interviewer: Black, please.
Applicant: Enjoy your new pen.

#7. Your Goal: Selling to a Busy Professional Who Is Disinterested

Applicant: I see you’re looking at our pens. How long have you been looking for a pen?
Interviewer: I’m not buying today. I am just having a look. My secretary buys my pens for me.
Applicant: I completely understand you’re very busy, and that way, you can focus on your work. But given you’re busy, how often do you actually use a pen?
Interviewer: I am a lawyer, and I use pens a lot, at least once a day, to sign important documents.
Applicant: So whenever you are using a pen, you would often pass your pen to your clients to sign their parts of documents and contracts?
Interviewer: Yes.
Applicant: And your clients choose you because they value professional work and quality outcomes, and they want the best representation they can get, and that’s you.

Interviewer: Yes, everyone wants the best representation.
Applicant: And so they should. But I mean, a pen is not just a pen. The pen you use as a lawyer represents you to your clients. You want a pen that shows your clients that you are the type of legal professional that they need on their side and a pen like this does that!
Interviewer: I do want my pen to represent me and give my clients confidence. But I don’t want to have to buy new pens every time it runs out of ink, and it does get used quite often.

Applicant: Well, the great news is this has replaceable ink cartridges. It takes just a few seconds to replace the cartridge. Instead of having your secretary buy you new pens, you can have her order you refills so you always have plenty of ink and the same stunning pen that will impress your clients.
Interviewer: I suppose I could do that.
Applicant: Now, you said you’re a lawyer, so the ink color will be important, yes? Do you need blue ink or would you like both blue and black?

#8. Your Goal: Applying for a Pressure Selling or Cold Calling Job

Applicant: Do you ever need to write?
Interviewer: Not really. I do most things on my phone or computer.
Applicant: That is the way things are going. But you would use a pen from time to time, surely?
Interviewer: Yes, occasionally.
Applicant: And what are those occasions that you use a pen?

Interviewer: Usually birthdays or special events. I like to write handwritten letters and handwrite birthday cards for my family and friends.
Applicant: There is something special about writing, isn’t there? These days most people do everything electronically, by email instead of letters, and so on. But when you take the time to write a letter or a card, it really shows that you care.
Interviewer: Yes, that’s why those are the times that I use a pen.
Applicant: And when you are writing letters and cards, you want to be thoughtful and expressive, don’t you?
Interviewer: Yes.
Applicant: So it makes sense to use a comfortable pen that produces nice-looking writing with a smooth and presentable ink texture?
Interviewer: I do like to use a pen that is better than a cheap Biro.

Applicant: And this is that pen. It’s clean and elegant to look at but not unnecessarily showy. It writes nicely but without being excessively engineered. It’s a good pen that won’t let you down or fade out on the last line of a birthday card.
Interviewer: How much is it?
Applicant: Here, take this paper and have a try of it and then tell me what it is worth to you.
Interviewer: It is very comfortable in the hand, and it writes very well. But I don’t want to spend a lot. I can buy a pack of Bic pens for $3.
Applicant: Well, this pen is $5.99, but it writes better than any Bic, and it will outlast a whole pack of Bic pens. What color would you like it in?

#9. Your Goal: Selling to an Undifferentiated Customer (Creating a Point of Difference)

Applicant: Do you currently own a pen?
Interviewer: Yes, I own several.
Applicant: And is there any pen that you use most often?
Interviewer: Yes, I have a favorite pen that I use.
Applicant: What do you use a pen for most often?
Interviewer: Just general writing, things like writing in my diary, journaling, and writing my daily to-do lists.
Applicant: So you use a pen quite a lot?

Interviewer: Yes, frequently.
Applicant: And is there anything you don’t like about the pens that you currently use?
Interviewer: Well, they’re just pens.
Applicant: So is that what you dislike about them, that they’re just pens? Or you’re saying you have nothing to dislike about them?
Interviewer: I don’t have much to dislike about them because they’re just pens.
Applicant: Right, because there is nothing special or noteworthy about the pens that you use?
Interviewer: I suppose that’s fair to say, yes, they’re ordinary pens.
Applicant: But given you use a pen often, as you have said, wouldn’t it be nice if there was something special that you did notice about your pen when you used it?

Interviewer: Well, yes. But I can’t imagine enjoying one pen more than any other.
Applicant: If you were to imagine that, what would it be? Have you borrowed a really good pen in the past? What did you notice about it?
Interviewer: I did use a very nice pen once. It’s hard to say what I liked about it. It was slightly heavier than a normal pen, and the ink was so smooth and the tip so well designed it floated across the page.
Applicant: I have a pen right here that does that exactly! Here, hold this.
Interviewer: Oh, yeah, wow. I see what you mean.
Applicant: Go ahead, write with it.

Interviewer: It’s very nice.
Applicant: And you deserve it. You write so often that it makes perfect sense that you should have a pen that is enjoyable to use.
Interviewer: I would like that.
Applicant: Okay then, put that one in your pocket right now.

#10. Your Goal: Creating an Emotional Need

Applicant: Have you ever seen something that you just had to have?
Interviewer: Yes, haven’t we all?
Applicant: Yes, very true. But what was it that you saw?
Interviewer: A hat. I’m a bit of a collector. Not like a professional or hobby collector, but more like how some people have a lot of shoes. I have a lot of hats, and I wear most of them depending on the day and the weather.

Applicant: Oh, that’s cool. What hat was it that you saw?
Interviewer: It was a beret. It was simplistically elegant and made from fine wool felt, and it was the perfect color.
Applicant: So you enjoy the finer things in life?
Interviewer: Yes, I love things that are luxurious and just fit into my life.
Applicant: What if I had a pen that was luxurious and fit into your life? Something simplistic yet elegant with a fine finish. An understated head turner, more than being a pen, it’s an accessory to catch the eye of anyone who sees you using it. Wouldn’t you just have to have it?
Interviewer: Yes, if you had a pen like that that I’d at least have to see it.

Applicant: Well, then this is your lucky day because I have just the pen but it’s the very last one. They’re in very limited supply and highly sought after by the most discerning customers. Take a look at this. (Pass them the pen.) This pen is platinum plated with a brushed titanium clip, titanium tip, and a titanium accent in the middle where it turns. Being platinum and titanium, it is modern yet timeless, and it won’t tarnish or rust. It’s as eye-catching as a designer watch, and case-in-point, it complements your watch perfectly.
Interviewer: It is truly stunning.
Applicant: Isn’t it? Do you want the lifetime care plan too? That means if it ever gets damaged or scratched in day-to-day use, we provide free replating once a year and unlimited free cleaning. That means it will always look as perfect as it does right now.
Interviewer: The care plan is a no-brainer. Let’s do this.

Conclusion

Made famous in The Wolf of Wall Street, this question is the ultimate test of sales skills. In the famous scene, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character asks the pen question to his friends while sitting in a diner. The question was one of the most common interview questions asked in a sales job interview before this, but the movie made it popular again. All sales professionals need to know how to role play this question with an interviewer because failing to answer well likely means you have failed the interview.

A good salesperson knows there are different ways to deliver the right answer with a good sales pitch, but most important is to avoid giving a wrong answer. This is a trick question, and the average job seeker will get confused. Starting by talking about the pen’s features is the biggest mistake you can make. The correct answer follows a step-by-step process. The first thing is to ask questions about the customer to understand their needs and qualify them. Then, move from asking questions to making statements about the features of the pen, the advantages these features provide, and how this benefits them, the customer. Finally, have a strong close to secure the sale.

Find which answer example you like the most and practice it for the next time you are asked this difficult question. Memorize two or three examples so you will have the right answer no matter how the question is asked. Or, the best way to never be stuck is to practice the answer formula so you can always deliver a real answer if this question is asked. Good luck!

Author Biography
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.

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