What is the real answer to the Wolf of Wall Street challenge: Sell me this pen?
Anyone who’s seen Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street knows the scene. In the last few moments of the film, Leonardo DiCaprio, portraying Jordan Belfort asks a room full of salesmen at a seminar to sell him a pen. DiCaprio hands a pen to one salesman, who begins describing it: “It’s an amazing pen…” Not satisfied, Mr. DiCaprio takes the pen from the salesman, hands it to another and repeats the challenge. Again, the salesman describes the pen’s finer features and Mr. DiCaprio moves on.
At first, I didn’t realize why it mattered. It just seemed like a silly question. But, you’ll see. When you become good at answering this question, you actually become one hell of a salesperson. And thats why the question was ASKED… but how to answer it?
And that’s why people still ask it in interviews. It shows your creative approach and how good you are at actually selling product (not just reading your resume).
There are exactly four sales skills the interviewer is looking to see when you answer:
- how you gather information
- how you respond to information
- how you deliver information
- and how you ask for something (closing)
Now, since I had a lot of sales interviews lined up at the beginning of last year. I thought, I better practice my response just in case.
The “just wing it” strategy is best for making pancake mix, not for sales interviews.
So let’s go through exactly what you can say to address each sales skill. Because when you do it right, you will blow their mind!
Here’s exactly what you can say. At the bottom, you can see a simple sales framework to memorize that will make this work for you in any situation. You can memorize the script, but more importantly, memorize the sales framework at the end.
Here you go…
CEO: Do me a favour, sell me this pen. (reaches across to hand me the pen)
Me: (I slowly roll the pen between my index and thumb fingers.) When was the last time you used a pen?
CEO: This morning.
Me: Do you remember what kind of pen that was?
Me: Do you remember why you were using it to write?
CEO: Yes. Signing a few new customer contracts.
Me: Well I’d say that’s the best use for a pen (we have a subtle laugh). Wouldn’t you say signing those new customer contracts is an important event for the business? (nods head) Then shouldn’t it be treated like one. What I mean by that is, here you are signing new customer contracts, an important and memorable event. All while using a very unmemorable pen. We grew up, our entire lives, using cheap BIC pens because they get the job done for grocery lists and directions. But we never gave it much thought to learn what’s best for more important events. This is the pen for more important events. This is the tool you use to get deals done. Think of it as a symbol for taking your company to the next level. Because when you begin using the right tool, you are in a more productive state of mind, and you begin to sign more new customer contracts. Actually. You know what? Just this week I shipped ten new boxes of these pens to Elon Musk’s office. Unfortunately, this is my last pen today (reach across to hand pen back to CEO). So, I suggest you get this one. Try it out. If you’re not happy with it, I will personally come back next week to pick it up. And it won’t cost you a dime. What do you say?
See how simple that was. Why?
Because all four sales skills were displayed.
Here’s the simple sales framework I used to answer “sell me this pen”. Memorize it for yourself.
- Find out how they last used a pen (gather info)
- Emphasize the importance of the activity they last used a pen (respond to info)
- Sell something bigger than a pen, like a state of mind (deliver info)
- Ask for the sale (closing)
Does that make sense?
Remember, it’s not about actually selling a pen. It’s about showing how well you can sell a product.
Take 15 minutes today to practice the script above. I promise you will benefit.