a pen

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Would you conjure up sentences about the features of the pen, how well it writes, its durability, and its branding? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong

If you haven’t seen The Wolf of Wall Street, you must. It’s not for the faint-hearted, mind. The film recounts Jordan 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 film’s final scene has become famous because it shows Belfort 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 its branding. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

So what’s the right approach?

Imagine you are at a second-hand car dealership. As you walk among the cars you can’t help but stop at a lovely two-seater red sports car. Lovely alloys. Leather seats. You stare lovingly. 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, and I shouldn’t say this, but the police would struggle keeping up with this beauty.” And so on. If only she had stopped to ask you any question, she’d know you have four kids and need an SUV. No matter how hard she tries, you cannot buy this car. So the first question should be: “Do they need/want a pen?”

There is a fabulously simple, yet effective influencing tool called ‘Push Pull Influencing’. In essence, it asks us to take a look at how we influence. More as a puller or as a pusher? Pullers essentially want to find out what’s in your head and they do this by asking questions. Pushers tell you what is in their head. Both are valid and effective forms of influencing – the trick is knowing which one to use and when.

Each of us naturally does one of the other more. 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, like the salesperson selling the sports car. What Jordan Belfort is asking us to do is pull: What do they want? Ask.

Then, once you know what they want, use that information to sell it to them. 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?