"sell me this pen"

"sell me this pen"

Author: 
Mike Boracci
Anyone hiring a salesperson who demands that his prospect perform on the spot by saying something like "sell me this pen" in an interview should consider re-evaluating their career. This is the type of exercise that tells you nothing about the candidate, except that they are willing to follow ridiculous instructions. I sincerely hope that no sales person ever has to sell anything to their prospective employer. It amazes me how many so-called sales leaders are still using worn out lines like this one, designed to put a sales person on the spot and expose a weakness that the manager can feed on. In an interview it is more valuable to learn about some of the deals that the prospect has closed, the quotas they held, and their long-term goals. Of course it is wise to engage them in meaningful conversation so that you can get a sense of their personality type. I would even go so far as to give them a Keirsey Temperament Sorter test. At least you'll be able to determine what types of clients they will have difficulty selling to, but please don't ask your prospects to "sell you your own pen". Instead why don't you ask them about their sales style, how they like to sell, who do they seek out when prospecting, and how they respond to objections. This process boils down to gathering real data about a person that you are going to invest in. That data can be used for comparative analysis and that is the foundation of a great hiring decision.