Let the hate mail begin! The “sell me this pen” exercise is one of the most lamented tests in sales. People will bellow and wail about how it’s insulting, out-dated, and irrelevant. In some cases..they may be right. However, like most things, it’s a matter of perspective. If you view the exercise through my eyes, you’ll see much more than the Wolf of Wall Street.
There is more than one way to sell, and there is more than one apt definition of “sales”. This is not easy for me to admit, because I am a self-admitted sales snob. I have been called a prancing prima donna more than once, even though I’m neither a woman, nor have I performed in an Opera. I prefer to believe those haters were just jealous of my quota crushing prowess…because I only prance when I’m sure nobody is looking, and only sing Opera when I’m CERTAIN nobody can hear me. The point is…just because I sell using the Sandler System, doesn’t mean it’s the be-all, and end-all. I’ve seen people use traditional methods with great success, and mind-boggling closing ratios…so I KNOW it can be done; but it is rare. Mitch Cammidge from WORKPLACES is an example of an absolute master of neo-traditional salesmanship. His tone, body language, and genuine intention goes a long way when he’s sitting down with a client.
So…about the “Sell me this pen” interview technique…
From the perspective of the Sandler System how you respond to the pen exercise lets me know if you are a “Traditional”, “Neo-Traditional”, or a Sandler trained sales person.
The traditional sales person will struggle by attempting to “sell” you the pen by conjuring up a BS story of how this pen was hand made by Taoist monks and the ink was extracted from Atlantian giant squid. Or perhaps, they will have a little panic attack as they try to take the standard pen, and find particular features that stand out…and try to get you excited about those features. EG: Ergonomic comfort grip, 2ooo pages of ink per insert, vibrant colour, smooth writing ability, etc.
A neo-traditional sales person will ask you a few probing questions such as, “what type of pen have you used in the past?”, or “do you have a favorite type of pen?”. Once the customer is engaged, THEN they’d dive into the same features and benefits as the traditional sales person.
If a person is an apt practitioner of the Sandler System, they will refuse to get backed into a corner by attempting to “sell” the pen at all.
- First, they will use disarming honesty to put the customer at ease.
- Second, they may act a little confused, as to why you chose their store to shop for a new pen…and will ask you “what brings you in today?”, or “What’s the worst pen I could possibly show you…just so I don’t waste your time by accidentally showing you something you hate?”
- If they hear anything about things the customer does NOT want to see, they will drill down to find out WHY they don’t want to see them, and the impact those bad pens have had on them in the past.
- Based on the information collected from the customer, they would then suggest an appropriate selection of pens, always double checking to ensure that these were the correct pens to show them.
- Instead of showing the features and benefits, they would ask the customer, what the features and benefits of the pen are, that they like, or dislike. They would get the customer to sell THEM the pen…not the other way around.
- Instead of attempting to close the deal, the Sandler practitioner would simple ask at the appropriate time…”so, what happens next?” This allows for the customer to “close” the deal themselves.