Using Humor On a Sales Call

How do you use humor on sales calls?

1. I prefer fresh humor over off-the-shelf jokes in most cases. With that said, passing on jokes you’ve heard or read might be the right thing for you. If you’re a great joke teller, recycled jokes might be right up your alley. It’s just not at the top of my personal list of ways to make connections.

2. Storytelling is a great vehicle if you have the skill. It’s different from telling jokes you’ve heard. When I say storytelling, I mean sharing of happenings in your life. This could also include using borrowed stories, but your own original tales will usually have more impact. A story is usually longer than a standard set-up/joke sequence of humor.

3. In sales calls you have the question of “the chicken or the egg.”  Although humor is a great relationship builder, I am a fan of “the relationship comes first.” My concern is establishing the “permission factor” which paves the way for jokes to be positively received. There is the chance that an aggressive joke teller may come across as a clown and not a professional. The amount of humor and the type of humor which you can sucessfully use is best measured by the nature and depth of your relationship with the client.

4. As in speaking, a great form of humor is self-deprecation. It usually works well to poke fun at yourself. If you can master the art of self-deprecation, it opens the door for other types of humor.

5. What is the humor style of the client? If they never use humor, they may not be as open to humor as a client who is always making funny remarks. The process of matching humor to the client is the technique of mirroring. It’s similar to observing the pace and energy of the client and matching your communication style to be received on the same style wave length.

6. Less is more. Be cautious about going humor overload. A little spice goes a long way. Once you learn what works, you can adjust your style.

7. Use other vehicles to share the fun. I remember a paper salesman who called on my father’s printing business 50 years ago. He was fun and interesting. He used the vehicle of magic to break the ice and create relationships. What hobbies and skills do you have which may provide you with unique vehicles to connect with your clients?

8. Have a short sales-call critique form where you can list things that worked and didn’t work in the area of humor. Maybe something funny was said by you or the client that is a “new joke” which you can re-use at the next sales call. This critique form will jog your memory and save your funny moments to help you enrich the quality of future calls.

9. The best answer to the question of “how to use humor on a sales call,” is answered by your own experience. Trial and error. What works for you? Experiment and learn by doing. Harvest funny moments. Learn from your mistakes. You’ll develop a style that will set you apart from your competitors.