“Sell me this pen.”


This is a Montblanc Leo Tolstoy fountain pen.  It costs around $850.00.  I learned this a few nights ago in an airport.  I dangled in to the Montblanc store.  The young salesman put on a clinic in professional salesmanship.

  1. The sale starts at the front door.  Shortly after entering the store the young salesman greeting me courteously and professionally.  He was sharply dressed in a well-pressed suit, clean-shaven, grey knit tie.  He thanked me for visiting and shook my hand.  We introduced ourselves to each other.  “I’m Matt,” I said.  “Very nice to meet you sir.” He replied.  I remained “Sir” for the entire visit.  I was reminded as to the extent to which far too many salespeople have grown overly casual as well as the impact that professionalism has on a customer’s first impression.
  2. The presentation is part of the product.  My favorite pen is the Precise V7.  It costs a couple of bucks.  My second favorite pen is the Bic Round Stick Medium.  You buy them by the bag.  I asked the salesman to explain why someone would pay nearly nine hundred dollars for a pen he said, “Please let me show you.”  He pulled a pair of white cotton gloves from his jacket pocket and put them on.  He opened the case in which the pen lay.  As if holding an ancient artifact, a porcelain egg from a Russian monarch, he lifted the pen–almost cradled it–and softly set it on a blue velvet cloth.  Finally, he wiped the pen down and angled it “just so” within easy reach of my hand.  “See for yourself,” he followed.  How many times have I listened to salespeople introduce products in boring terms “We have lots of choices and here’s a brochure.” or “Here’s our lineup…”  A salesperson’s job in part is to make products come alive, to make them sing.  Bland presentations are antithetical to value building–especially for first-time buyers or skeptical customers.
  3. Benefits bring the product to life.  The salesman was absolutely impressive in his knowledge about the pen as well as his benefit statements.  “Leo Tolstoy was a passionate and devout man,” he began, “and was known for his unbelievable work ethic as a writer.”  He continued, “The silver barrel on this instrument (!) is hand hammered and symbolizes the skill and craftsmanship of a great writer (!!).  The blue marbling is actually lapis lazuli and was Tolstoy’s favorite stone (!!!).  The silver wrought band of intertwining cords symbolizes the author’s strength (keep going kid!).  The tip is hand machined and etched so that ink flows smoothly.  Finally, the tip of the cap includes the timeless six pointed emblem symbolizing the six mountains that surround the Montblanc factory.”  He must have practiced his pitch a hundred times.  All for a pen.  As a salesperson your words are your tools.  Used well, practiced and elegant, they transform the ordinary in to the extraordinary.  Poorly used and even the most beautiful item becomes clunky and unappealing.
  4. Be creative.  Much as I love to be sold I declined the pen.  The salesman was un-phased.  “Do you travel a lot?” he asked.  “Yes,” I answered.  He recommend a beautiful wallet and then explained that is was a security wallet that crooks are unable to scan.  He showed me very nice sunglasses.  He explained that Jonny Depp wears Montblanc sunglasses as does Jessica Chastain.  The salesman’s persistence was remarkable–more so in that he never became aggressive or desperate.  He was trying to move me to a yes.
  5. Keep a line in the water.  I did not buy anything.  At the end of our conversation we shook hands again.  He gave me his card and asked for mine.  He called me yesterday to inquire as to whether I was interested in the Leo Tolstoy pen or any other item that we had discussed.  He was polite and to-the-point.  Leads are like gold.  Managing them well builds a network and aides in closing sales.

Business owners often ask me: “How do I get leads?  How do I make the phone ring?”  There’s no silver bullet in any space.  But the surest way to convince people to talk about a business is to deliver a consistently exceptional sales presentation that is unforgettable.  Sales is a craft–there’s an art to it–and the young man selling $840.00 pens gets it.  A great salesperson is an alchemist.

2 responses

  1. Once again Matt is able to describe what many would think a mundain experience to point out that the art of selling and problem solving really is consistent through out every retail industry.

  2. Matt, this is a finely crafted reminder to all of us aspiring to be true professional salespeople. Words ARE powerful, and deserve to be treated as such. Thanks for continuing to inspire greatness and excellence. Lee

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