By Nancy Nardin: 4/4/16

sell me this pen cover

“Sell me this pen!” is supposedly the classic interview question. I’m not sure that’s true but regardless, it’s become legendary as the ultimate challenge for salespeople.

Something reminded me of it recently and it got me to thinking, “What if you could use the classic question as a way to demonstrate different sales approaches?”

Not knowing much about what might make this particular pen different (or any pen really), I decided it didn’t really matter. The point would be to showcase in a short video, what the primary differences are between sales methodologies, albeit in an over-simplified way.

You can watch the video here:


“We often hear that in order to keep the over-all costs of office supplies down, it’s easiest just to look for low prices across all categories including pens. Is that something you can relate to? It’s interesting to consider that people lose cheap pens in far greater numbers and frequency. What are thought of as “cheap” pens turn out to be a high-cost line item rather quickly. Have you considered whether you would go through fewer pens if they were high-quality?”

The Challenger sale – in a nutshell consists of reframing the way a buyer thinks about something. You “challenge” their thinking by providing new information.

Consultative “Spin” selling:

“What about your current pens do you like best? And what do you wish were different about the pens you currently use? I see, you’re often in varying weather conditions – how does settling for the pens you currently use impact your ability to write in these situations? What if you could have a pen that was affordable and was also reliable no matter the temperature or weather conditions – would that be of interest?”

Consultative selling – in a nutshell – involves getting the customer to think about the pain they’re experiencing and how life could be different if that pain was resolved.


“Our pens use a weather-proof ink which means when you’re in inclemate weather you’ll still be able to take notes. The pen is also evenly weighted so there will be very little hand-fatigue when writing for long periods of time. And the specific colors are designed to minimize reflection AND make the pen easier to find.”

Feature/benefit selling puts the focus on the product itself. Features are described followed by a quick translation into what that could mean for the buyer.

Traditional (BANT):

“I’m happy to tell you about our pens. Can I ask, what type of budget are you working with? Will anyone else be involved in the decision? How satisfied are you with your current pen supplier? When would you need your first shipment and how often will you be ordering.”

BANT, which stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing, isn’t necessarily a sales methodology. However, it’s certainly a sales approach that many managers insist every salesperson follow whether by itself or in conjunction with other methodologies.

The idea is that the salesperson must qualify the prospect based on the four elements. It doesn’t matter how good the pen is, the rational goes, if the buyer doesn’t have budget, the authority to make a decision, the need for a pen, or if the timing isn’t right for the buyer.

It was fun to put this together. It would be even more fun, to see others put together their own video response. Either focus on doing these same four in a different way, or pick a different set of methodologies to highlight. If you do, be sure to include the URL in the comments section below!