Sell Me This Pen

The classic sales interview question.  Here’s the real question, do they actually need a pen?

Now stretch out that question so that it applies to you.  Do your clients actually need your product?  Do your co-workers need to listen to your idea?  In your opinion, they may need to, maybe so in reality, but is it true in their mind?

An old sales manager once said to me,”Your job is not to make the horse drink, your job is to make the horse thirsty.”


So now what is it about your client that makes them thirsty?  Used Car Eddie would take the pen and begin by describing its bombastic colors, sharp writing tip, and a handy “one-of-a-kind” pen clip to hang on your shirt.  Oh YES! That pen has got it all.

Sales Conversation Callie

Sales Conversation Callie would look you square in the eyes and ask you how long you’ve been in the market for a pen, and what you are seeking out of your next writing utensil.

She would then ask you how often you use pens and maybe even what your preferred ink choice is (black, blue, pink, or red for educators).  Now she’ll present the pen exactly to your liking and how you will personally use the pen in your busy day.Used car sales


Who did you buy the pen from?


Your job is to make the horse thirsty


You would prefer buying the pen from Callie; me too.

Here’s why:

1. She identified her target market and locked on with focus and attention, not with a megaphone on a soapbox.

2. She qualified you as a customer, finding out if you even had a need for a pen.  It could be that “your writing utensil” is a keyboard or pencil.

3. She built rapport with humor, “red for educators,” and made the customer feel at ease.

4. She put you into the product, painting a picture with you and your new pen writing throughout the day.

What does this mean to me?

Simple, if you want people to buy YOUR products, ideas, tasks, relationship, or service then we, as sales persons, must slow down and listen first.

We have a phenomenal product that the public needs.  Since we truly believe in what we are selling, we must take time to ask our client how they function throughout the day.  Actively respond by either realizing you are unable to help them, or find the ways that your product best helps.


Your job is not to make the horse drink


Some questions to ask about your product/idea/etc. in order to understand what you have to offer are:

What features (components) does my product (idea) have?

What problems can my product solve with those features?

Who has those problems now?

Where and when are those problems most frequent?

Using these questions and the Sales Conversation Callie process of engaging the customer/client/co-worker, you will find that more customers close themselves on the sale.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?


If you need some extra information check out these resources:

Newsletter twice a month, go in depth

Personal/ Group Sales Instruction our simple solution

Anthony Hopkins poor quality video, high quality advice

Zig Ziglar a 6 minute story, worth every second


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