Sell me this pen

Just do a Google or YouTube search for that phrase and you’ll have millions of hits. I saw it first towards the end of the epic movie, “The Wolf of the Wall Street.” (It’s a great movie and you should watch it!) At first it felt dramatic and powerful but over the past few years I’ve heard it so much that it drives me crazy. Well, almost.

I can tell what Jordan was trying to prove but as with most things the internet has ruined the concept. I can see and hear people selling a $600 Mont Blanc pen for $20. That’s not sales. That’s utter stupidity! There’s a running joke among sales professionals that “selling the pen” is the fastest way to drive any business… to the ground. It’s just BS!

Honestly, I believe it’s Zig Ziglar’s fault. I remember reading an short interview with someone who asked Zig to sell him a pen. In return, Zig asked “why do you want this pen in the first place?” The host sputtered out a list of features and benefits to which Zig asked, “okay, that’s great… how much is this pen worth to you?” The host said, “$20!” Zig paused for a moment and said, “sold!” And countless morons have sold pens worth $40, $400, or $1,000 pen for a mere $20 since then. Just to prove that they can sell a pen.

It’s idiotic! I don’t think it’s fair to trap anyone to sell you stuff. The logical response almost always is to ask why they want to buy it in the first place so that you don’t have to harp on the features and benefits anymore. The customer is already aware of all that, which will lead you to ask what it’s worth to the customer. And here’s where it gets tricky. You see, if it’s just $20 for a $600 Mont Blanc pen… you can’t ever say, “Sold.” But that, “Sir, I’m afraid that won’t even buy you the clip on the cap of this pen. I can tell you will not be interested to invest in a $600 pen, right?”

The response to this is either a “yes” or a “no.” If it’s a “no,” just ask if he thinks there’s someone in his circle who can afford to buy a prestigious pen such as the one you’re selling? You make a move based on the answer. It’s as simple as that.

Your biggest responsibility as a sales professional is to save two of your biggest asset — your product (always sell it for a profit) and your time (never lose your time on someone who’s not interested). It’s okay to focus your attention to someone who has more reasons to buy your product or services than someone who’s just keen to buy. In all likelihood, the ones who’re keen to buy don’t have the budget.

As a professional, one should focus on having the right systems (a sales process) in place instead of having the right answers.

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