How To Sell A Pencil – Any Your Product Or Service

Updated: November 11, 2010

So, what is the most effective way to sell a pencil? Well, first let's look at how most sales reps go about doing it. When I'm interviewing sales reps I love using this technique. After letting a rep tell me how good of a closer they are, I pull out a pencil, hand it to them, and tell them to sell it to me. And off they go!

80% of sales reps start the same way - they start pitching. "This pencil is brand new, never used. It has grade "2" lead and a bright yellow color so it's easy to find. It comes with a built in eraser," etc.

Some reps can (and do!) talk about it for 5 minutes or more before they ask a question or ask for an order. As the sales rep rambles on, I begin to yawn, roll my eyes, etc. Amazingly, this just makes them talk even more! "What's wrong with these people?" I think.

Now let's look at how the top 20% go about selling a pencil. As soon as I give a top rep the pencil, they pause, and then they begin asking me questions:

"So how often do you use a pencil?"

"How many do you go through in a month?"

"What other locations does your company use pencils, and how often do they order them?"

"What quantity do you usually order them in?"

"Besides yourself, who's involved in the buying decision?"

Quite a difference, huh? I'll tell you right now, I listen to hundreds of sales reps in a month and they can easily be separated into these two groups: Those who pitch, pitch, pitch, and those who take the time to understand their prospect's buying motives, and properly qualify to understand the entire selling process.

Now let's see which category you fit in. When you speak with a prospect for the first time, how much of your script is focused on describing and pitching your product or service as opposed to questioning and uncovering buying motives?

If yours is like most scripts I review, then it's filled with descriptions of what you do and how your product or service helps them. Most scripts attack the prospect with a barrage of "value statements" that turn people off and make them want to get you off the phone as quickly as possible.

Featured Research
  • Budgeting for BI in 2018

    Is your business ready for Business Intelligence (BI) software? As BI software continues to improve, more businesses are moving to adopt BI sooner rather than later. Before you make that commitment though, it pays to figure out exactly how much money it will cost you to implement. more

  • Gartner Report: Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure, Worldw...

    The 2017 Magic Quadrant provides Gartner’s annual analysis of the contact center infrastructure vendors. The report examines the innovations driving the market and compares vendors based on completeness of vision and ability to execute. more

  • Forrester Report: Artificial Intelligence with the Human Touch

    Artificial intelligence (AI) can’t replicate the human touch, but it can ease your agents’ burden by handling many simple, repetitive requests. A new Forrester Consulting paper offers a look at the strengths and weaknesses of both AI and humans independently, yet how blending them together can give your customers the seamless end-to-end experience they expect. more

  • eBook: Not All Cloud Contact Center Platforms Are Created Equal

    Everyone says they’re “in the cloud,” but most technology leaders would agree that not all clouds are created equal. When evaluating a cloud contact center solution for your business, it’s important to understand the difference between a true Cloud 2.0 application and traditional software, including which features to look for and why those features are important. more

  • eBook: Contact Center Economics and the Cloud

    If you are considering the right deployment model for your contact center, economic guidelines can help you choose the solution that is best for your company. Cloud, on-premises or hybrid. more