All of us regularly buy something, and only a few of us get to sell. At the same time, among the sellers, as in any other field of activity, there are more or less qualified specialists. A real pro is able to sell anything to anyone - even the notorious elephant from an anecdote.
And of course, any entrepreneur wants to have such people working for him. But finding and recognizing them is not an easy task. To solve it, recruitment agencies have come up with a lot of technologies and tricks that are used in interviews with job applicants.
In particular, in order to test the professional suitability of a sales specialist, they offer him to perform a small but specific task: to sell something right here and right now, without getting up from the negotiating table. In this case, the object of the transaction is any object that came to hand: a notebook, a cup or a ballpoint pen.
Among salespeople and "bounty hunters" the expression "sell a pen" has received approximately the same meaning as "sell an elephant" from marketers. That is, it has acquired an ironic intonation of describing a useless but tricky way to prove the high level of one's professional qualifications.
Almost everyone who is involved in employment in the field of active sales, looking for a job or hiring employees in this field, is well aware of this method, but continues to use it and is not going to give it up. If only because it is a simple and quick way to simulate the "field" conditions and behavior of market participants.
Why sell a pen in a job interview
The playful surroundings and the apparent ease of the process of selling a ballpoint pen to an employer should not confuse you. In fact, only 20% of applicants pass this test, that is, only 2 people out of 10.
This is because most sales managers, even those who are talented and with great potential, immediately get carried away with the practical part of the task, while HR people put the subtext at the forefront. Knowing about him, you can easily overcome this obstacle on the way to the cherished position.
The essence of the assignment actually lies not so much in the sale of a specific item as in understanding the mechanisms of sales and those levers that influence the buyer, prompting him to make a decision to purchase a product. Knowing about them, you will be able to sell any product, wholesale and retail, almost regardless of the season and marketing events.
Because you see the basic principle of a successful sale: it is not a product that is sold, but its properties. The buyer is not looking for an object, but for his own benefit. Once you learn how to embody this principle in your work, you can sell the pen not only to your employer, but also to the owner of a stationery factory.
At first glance, this concept is simple and logical. In one form or another, it is obvious to all sellers and sales representatives without exception. Many of them have gone through more than a dozen trainings and have experience in many lucrative deals. And yet the ill-fated pen at the interview continues to hang over the soul like a sword of Damocles.
There is only one way to get rid of panic in front of her: stop trying to find and praise the nonexistent advantages of an ordinary object, and instead find in the person sitting in front of you that buyer who desperately needs this particular pen.
How to get an employer to buy a pen
On the one hand, it is difficult to sell a pen. There are many pens in the world and everyone owns them. Moreover, your opponent is aware of your intentions and seeks to refute them. But on the other hand, nothing is easier if you know and use the following approach to the selling process:
Get to know the client in the broadest sense of the word. Understand what kind of person he is and what his interests are. Interests are the key to the needs that you will build on, like a dotted line, in the sales process. Do not rush to attack him with an offer - start with questions. What does your counterpart do most of the time of his life, what are his duties, how he rests, where he spends his free time and with whom he communicates. Draw in your mind a portrait of this person. This is to avoid being trashed by offering a ballpoint pen as a must-have for someone who cannot write or who is allergic to ink. This example is, of course, exaggerated, but it well illustrates the perniciousness of rushing to sell.
Ask clarifying questions. After the first contact with the client is established and a general idea of his lifestyle has been drawn up, you can narrow the range of your interests and move on to more specific questions. For example, find out how often he has to write by hand instead of using a computer keyboard. Which pen is more convenient for him to use: ballpoint, gel, ink, automatic, with a cap, black, blue, green, etc. Find out what other parameters the client takes into account when choosing a pen: the name of the manufacturer, expensive materials, additional functions. And all this time, do not try to show him that pen, which is the immediate subject of sale.
Stay a little Socrates. Use his clever psychological trap method. It consists in asking several closed questions in a row, suggesting a positive answer. Formulate them as simply as possible so that the interlocutor relaxes and answers "yes" already by inertia. Then, with a high probability, he will automatically answer the same way to your signature question about buying a pen.
Exaggerate the situation. Reassure the other person that at the moment his life is fraught with many difficulties. In paints, describe to him the circumstances in which a ballpoint pen is practically the guarantee of his fate (an important exam, an interview at the consulate, etc.) and turns out to be faulty. Outline the tragic consequences of such a failure, and then, without giving time to recover, offer in return a truly reliable, tested, repeatedly tested pen.
Aim as accurately as possible. Having found out all the preferences and tastes of the buyer to the smallest detail, offer him to buy from you a pen that matches them to the smallest nuances. As the saying goes, "favorite color, favorite size." Moreover, the client told you all this himself, so he can't get out of it and refuse to give up his words. Before him is the pen of his dreams, exactly one that will make his life easier and more pleasant.
Speed up the process. This is, perhaps, the only moment when you need to rush in sales. Make your offer limited in time and / or in volume. Let this incredibly useful pen sell for half the usual price today. Or there are only two of them left, and the next batch will not be soon and at a new, higher price. The client should be afraid of losing the right moment. You bluff to the last, especially since everything that happens is a game.
How not to sell a pen in an interview
A job interview is stressful even for an experienced and morally resilient job seeker. Therefore, it is possible that at the most crucial moment you will be slightly confused, and all the previously prepared phrases will fly out of your head. In this case, you must learn at least the basic rules, following which will save you from a fatal mistake:
Do not try to praise and exalt to the skies the merits of your pen before you listen to the client. Until you have received the information you need from him, do not reveal your cards in front of him.
A good salesperson not only speaks fluently, but also listens attentively. Feel free to ask leading questions that will get the conversation back on track. Be able to shut up in time to give the interlocutor the opportunity to share their desires.
Allow yourself to be charming and the client to succumb to your charm. Do not be too formal - on the contrary, moderate artistry, a relaxed smile and appropriate jokes have a very beneficial effect on the atmosphere between the participants in the dialogue. A relaxed client is always better than an irritated client. This will help you out even when you are not very good at the subject of the conversation.
Improvise, joke, you can even bluff a little - whatever to create a pleasant, inviting mood. But the jokes are good in moderation. A sales representative who behaves like a clown makes you want not to buy a product, but to get rid of his company as soon as possible. Therefore, carry out the sale of a pen with taste and dignity, know when to stop and be impeccable.
Thus, the main snag of selling a pen in an interview is the employer's attempt to confuse you and reveal your ability in an unusual situation. Your task is to maintain self-control and fully demonstrate your professional skills, which consist in understanding the main concept: the buyer needs to sell not a product, but to fully satisfy his needs associated with this product.
If you manage to do this convincingly, then your interlocutor will probably willingly buy from you his pen, stapler, marker and will hire as a valuable and experienced employee of the sales department.