This classic line from the 1988-movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit? illustrates the power of laughter. A sexy and beautiful woman, Jessica Rabbit, is married to a short, quirky rabbit, Roger. There’s nothing in common between them, except laughing out loud.
In fact, laughter is the shortest distance between two people - and that makes humor essential in sales.
Pulling it off successfully isn’t easy though. So keep reading to learn three tips about how to use humor in sales effectively.
#1 - Build rapport with smiles
People smile or laugh when they’re comfortable. So start your presentation with a soft laugh to break the ice and bond with your prospects. You can do this by telling a personal funny story that will help people relate to you. Or if you’re good with jokes, try a clever one-liner.
Research shows that people are more likely to act upon a request when they like you, and humor increases likability. So before you ask them to buy, make them smile. Scientists tell us that smiling impacts the brain positively, putting people at ease, and making them feel energetic and optimistic - an optimal state for a buying conversation. Furthermore, brain research shows that laughter delivers large doses of dopamine and serotonin, which lift a person's mood.
Some people use self-deprecating humor to make themselves more relatable; they make fun of themselves to build rapport. Studies have shown that self-deprecating humor makes you more likable and socially attractive, but if you go too far, it can have the unintended effect of making you look incompetent. So, only use self-deprecating humor if your prospects already believe you're an expert.
#2 - Set a limit on your fun-o-meter
Remember that you’re selling, not performing on Comedy Central. Begin with a joke, continue with the important stuff and close with a funny remark.
Research shows that humor disrupts critical thinking and distracts people from the message of a persuasive argument. So refrain from using humor when presenting key value propositions that prospects must consider carefully and commit to.
Also, avoid anything racist, sexist, ethnic, political, religious, and at all costs, avoid sarcasm. You run the risk of offending the other person and ruining your chances of closing the deal.
Laughter can make your sales pitch memorable in a few ways:
- Humor makes you look more confident, especially if you are well prepared and know when to throw in your punchline
- People will remember your funny pitch, email or ad better and longer than a boring monologue from your competitor’s marketing campaign
- If you can inject humor when presenting the solution your company provides to the prospect’s pain point, you’ll show you really understand them and thus gain their trust
Stand-up comedian and salesman Jon Selig recommends to always try to connect the prospect's issue or problem with a joke that every party can laugh along with. “There is always common ground between a salesperson and a prospect, and you can turn that common ground into humorous material. If you thoroughly understand your role, your goal, and your industry, you’re well on your way to successfully uniting humor and sales."
Finally, you can also use humor as part of your branding. Depending on the industry and your buyer persona, you might want to connect with your clients through a humorous voice across all your marketing and sales channels.
One positive effect of using humor as part of your branding is digital shareability. People share things that are funny. Just take a look at your social media feeds.
For example, this funny insurance commercial went viral on Twitter.
Go beyond the norm of what everyone expects from a sales rep or a sales pitch and surprise your prospects next time you reach out to them. Hey, who knows, just like Roger Rabbit did, you might even get your ideal match.