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Sell Me This Pen, and Finding a Bargain

Updated on August 18, 2014

Sell Me This Pen Questions

What I want to hear when I walk into a car dealership:

  • What brings you here today?
  • How did you hear about us?
  • Why are you interested in this particular car or model?
  • How can I help you today?
  • When are you looking to purchase the car?
  • How much time do you have today to look at or test drive cars?
  • What are the 3 most important things as you're shopping for cars?

In all honesty, any of these questions would be a breath of fresh air when I walk into the hated situation of car shopping. Give me someone who cares, values my time, and I'll give that person my business. Because here's the sad fact about folks that try to sell you a car through features and statements: They are going to waste your time by overpricing the car, waiting for you to counter with a lower price, and that's before you've even said you want the car.

Sell Me This Pen Statements

One of my favorite movie moments of the past 5 years is the conclusion to The Wolf of Wall Street. Based on a true story, Jordan Belfort gets a chance to re-emerge as a sales coach and asks the now famous "Sell me this pen". What ensues is one clueless salesperson after another fumbling through statements about the pen. You've heard it all before when you're buying a car:

  • This car can go from 0-60 in 8 seconds (I never asked, but okay)
  • This car is better than it's competitors (But I want to know if it's better than my current car)
  • You look like you want to drive something sporty (I want something that gets good mileage)
  • You can get this car fully loaded for only $39,000 (I told you I have $19,000)
  • What will it take for you to buy this car today? (Why is this the first time you asked me a question?)

The beauty of the "sell me this pen" moment is that we all deal with sales messages that try to separate our money from our wallet. When it's a telemarketer, they come at you full blast on the phone with a "Create your own adventure" script and they have a counter for your every move. And when it's a big purchase like a washer, dryer, refrigerator, home loan, or car, you generally have a subpar salesperson that wants to sell you something without asking a single question.

The Wolf of Wall Street Sell Me This Pen
The Wolf of Wall Street Sell Me This Pen | Source

What Does This Have to Do With Finding Deals

We're very lucky in that big purchases mean we have to deal with another person, whether it's online or in a store. Sure, there are online match-making services like Truecar that allow you to price out a car in advance, but still, ultimately you end up face-to-face with a salesperson.

The dirty little secret is that bad salespeople give you bad deals. They have no clout or influence at the dealership, and so they follow a badly written script that's designed to maximize profits. That's in direct opposition to my wanting to get the best deal with the exact vehicle I want to buy, while minimizing their profits.

On the other hand, the good salesperson saves 20 minutes of my time by asking a handful of questions and getting down to exactly what I want. Not only that, but he/she tends to be more honest about pricing because when it comes down to it, the frequency of deals being made is what's most important to that person. Translation: Instead of fighting over $200, the good salesperson makes sure I'm happy with the deal so that I refer more business to him/her.

It's mutually beneficial and what you deserve when you're making a big purchase.

How Do You Deal With Bad Salespeople?

How Do You Deal With Bad Salespeople?

See results

Dealing With The Salesperson

So what do you do when the automatic doors open, you walk in, and someone starts selling you features?

  1. Take a deep breath, and listen until the salesperson finishes
  2. Tell him/her that instead of wasting time, you're there to see a specific car and that you have a set amount of time to complete whatever step of the transaction this is
  3. When he/she goes back to covering features and wasting your time, politely say, "I'm sorry, but you really don't have to sell me this car. Let's get right to the next step".
  4. Wave your referral card - "I want to walk out of here with a car and pay a fair price. And you've been great so far, so I'll be telling my friends who are in the market to buy a car about you so you get more business".
  5. If your salesperson goes back to features three times, then they're out. "Listen, I've been very transparent with you, and I came in here wanting to buy this specific car but you're selling me something else. I need to speak with your manager so I can buy the car and be on my way".

Sell Me This Pen/Car

Sell Me This Pen/Car
Sell Me This Pen/Car | Source

Have I Got a Great Deal For You

Have I Got a Great Deal For You
Have I Got a Great Deal For You | Source

Bad Salespeople Take Care of #1, Good Salespeople Take Care of You

This is the hard truth: Bad salespeople take care of #1 and good salespeople take care of you. The sooner you can figure out who you're dealing with, the more time you have to turn the tables in your favor. The best part is, even a bad salesperson, can pick up on when you're a great prospective buyer and they'll generally get over themselves to serve you and make you happy.

And when you've got a great salesperson, thank them profusely. They deserve it, and we should always be upfront and appreciative of those that provide outstanding service.

Practical Applications

Here are some general situations where you can use these tips:

  • When buying a car
  • When buying a large appliance like a washer or dryer
  • When working with a real estate agent
  • When shopping for a home loan
  • When buying auto insurance over the phone or by email
  • When purchasing business services like phone/internet/TV services
  • When selling your car or trading in at a dealership
  • When at an antiques store or other neighborhood store that is more open to bargaining

About DealForALiving

I believe that being frugal and making smart money choices is like any other exercise. As we continue to practice good habits in saving money where possible, finding deals for what we want, and having a good time at it, then we become better at dealing for a living.

I'm committed to sharing my experiences with getting the most out of using credit cards, saving and spending tips, and I might even add a slice of perspective without trying to be a psychoanalyst like some other personal finance folks out there.

Please let me know what you think and if you'd like to hear my take on a specific topic.

Most Sincerely,


Sell Him/Her The Pen

As we've covered above, the real problem is that you have to expect that you're going to be dealing with someone who's bad or average at their job. And the net effect of that is suffering on your end, and in turn, failure on their part.

Do both of you a favor and get right to the point. Ask questions, ask for what you want to get, and be prepared to fulfill your side of the bargain. You'll end up saving time, money, and a lot of stress on your part. Sell him or her the pen.


DealForALiving | Source


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    • FunScavengerHunts profile image

      Brett 3 years ago from Asia

      When I worked in sales, I would only sell to the needs of the customer, and only if it was of genuine benefit to them. This initially upset the bosses, but when sales came in (as I was meeting/exceeding needs) then they realized it wasn't such as bad approach!