‘Sell Me this Pen’ – What’s the Answer?

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The 3 Secrets to Selling Anything

You must have heard the phrase ‘Sell me this pen.’ Well, if you haven’t seen Wolf on Wall Street, you must. It’s not for the faint-hearted. It’s a brilliant true story of Jordan Belfort.

The film recounts Belfort’s career as a stockbroker in New York City and how his firm, Stratton Oakmont, engaged in rampant corruption and fraud on Wall Street, leading to his downfall. The final scene has become famous because it shows Jordan as a washed-up stockbroker teaching sales. He asks a member of an audience to, ‘Sell me this pen.’

How would you respond? Probably like most people, holding the pen you conjure up sentences about the features of the pen, how well it writes, its durability, and probably it’s branding. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

If your response mimicked the above response to sell me this pen, you need to keep reading. Because there are 3 things wrong with this approach to selling.

Sell me this pen with question mark and a pen with price tag
Here’s how to correctly approach this question


The Correct Steps to Sell Me This Pen

Firstly, imagine you are at a car dealership forecourt, in the market for a new second-hand car. As you walk amongst the cars you can’t help but stop at the lovely 2-seater red sportscar. It’s lovely alloys and leather seats.

You stare lovingly. So at that point, the salesperson arrives with a spring in her step and a hearty patter – ‘Isn’t she lovely? Only two owners (one was a vicar), the other’s my Mum. Does she go? Well, I shouldn’t say this, but the Police would struggle keeping up with this beauty…’

And so it goes. If only the salesperson had stopped to ask you any question, they’d know that you have 4 kids and you need an SUV. No matter how hard they try you cannot buy this car. The first lesson is, ‘Do they need/want a pen?’ Think about this and apply it to sell me this pen.

Use This Influencing Tool

Secondly, there is a fabulously simple, yet effective influencing tool called ‘Push Pull Influencing.’ This can also apply to ‘Sell me this pen.’ In essence, it asks us to take a look at how we influence. More as a puller or as a pusher? Neither is better. Just different.

infographic of the Push pull influencing spectrum
Which are you?


Pullers essentially want to find out what’s in your head and they do this with questions to know what you are thinking. Pushers tell you what is in their head. Both are valid and effective forms of influencing. But the trick is knowing which one to use and when.

Each of us naturally does one more than the other. In fact, if you just run through your colleagues in your head, you’ll know the pullers and the pushers. Coming back to the pen, most people push, as the salesperson selling the sportscar – Here’s what’s in my head and I’ll share it. What Jordan is asking us to do is pull – what do they want? Ask.

Sell It Back to Them

Thirdly, once you know what they want, use that information to sell it back to them. This is the last component to your answer to ‘sell me this pen.’ So, you need a pen for a present to your wife next week, and it must be in rose gold and under £200 – is that right?

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