Scenarios – "Sell me that pen!"
I'm sure we've all been in one of those interviews where you're having great conversation with the hiring manager. Things are going well, you have built some strong rapport, you are no longer talking about the role but instead are talking about how the Red Sox are looking going into the second half. You have him/her eating out of your hands and nothing is going to get in your way of closing this down and getting an offer. Then s/he says, "Now we are going to do a little role playing. I want you to take this pen and sell it to me."
Before I go into how to approach this question let's look at why they are asking you to do this. It's uncomfortable, it's silly, it's awkward but when you think about it – so is sales. The reason so many hiring managers do some sort of role playing is because it allows the interviewer to see what you do when you are put into a situation where you have to think on your feet, execute and appear to be cool, calm, and collected through the whole thing.
I am not saying that role playing is a huge challenge but it is a bit off base when you are role playing with someone you just met. But, once you get past the silliness of it – you can really make it your own and that is what it is all about. Where people get lost in this situation is they hear, "Sell this to me," and they break right into the presentation of the pen. It is not whether or not you can close the deal (although it helps in this case), but it's about showing what your sales process is and how you can connect with the buyer.
Start by qualifying your prospect, "How do you satisfy your ink writing needs?" Hear them out, have them give you their pain points on why they should buy your pen. Once you have qualified them, then start presenting your solution, the pen. Based on the pain points they gave you, start telling them what your pen can do – bells and whistles as the pertain to the prospect.
Once you tell them about the pen, then you go for the close. "Are there outstanding questions that you may have about the pen that would prevent us from moving forward with the paper work?" The prospect may make up some concerns, like, "I really like my pencil," or "I really like typing on the computer." Whatever the concern might be, hear them out, answer them in the affirmative and put the concern to rest.
Are you seeing where I am going with this? Treat it like you would any other sales meeting – once you get past the weirdness of the role play and focus on the sale, you will be more comfortable. As long as you touch upon all the aspects of the sale – you will have successfully accomplished the role play. It is more about the structure of the conversation rather than the actual conversation itself.
So next time you are in an interview and you are asked to do a roll play, don't fidget or stress out. Just simply go into the sales process – once you are through with the awkwardness of the role play, you get on to something really ridiculous, employment in sales.