What’s So Funny about Being Professional?

There’s an old sales adage that says, “If you can make em laugh, you can make em buy.” The reason its old and the reason its been around so long is that its true.


Humor and laughter are two key ingredients in building and gaining a customer relationship.


The challenge with humor is:

1. People don’t know how to use it.

2.  People don’t know when to use it.

2.5. Many salespeople are afraid to use it because they think it will make them look unprofessional.


Let me dispel those myths and misguided thoughts with the following 4.5 reasons to inject more humor into your selling process and your life:


1. Humor is the final frontier.

It’s easy to learn all about your product. It’s easy to learn all about your customer. It’s easy to learn the science of selling.

It’s hard to learn the science of humor and harder to learn timing and placement of that humor in your sales presentation.

The essence of humor is that it is relaxing and creates a more open atmosphere. That atmosphere will begin to breed friendship, respect and compatibility. The reason I refer to it as the final frontier is that it’s the last element that you put into your selling process. You insert it when you’ve mastered knowing your own product, knowing your customer and his business, and knowing the science of selling.

If you only use humor and don’t know the other three elements, then you will become a clown who makes no sales. Humor will not just “get you by.” More importantly, it will solidify your relationship, and the sale.


2. Humor is the highest form of language mastery.

If you’ve ever heard someone say, “Boy, that guy’s just naturally funny”. He’s also probably an extremely intelligent human. If you ever learn a foreign language, the very last thing you do is learn the humor. The hardest thing to do in any foreign language is make a joke. Humor is the most difficult of nuances to master, but when you do, you have the basis for solid intellectual rapport and solid intellectual engagement.

Note well: Not every prospect requires or desires humor. You can tell who they are right away. They’re the ones that never laugh at anything. The best thing to do when this scenario occurs is eliminate humor from your sales presentation and pray that the guy is not a price buyer. In my experience though, he probably is. People who ”just want to get down to brass tacks”, are usually just people who want to “get down to brass prices.”


3. What’s so funny about being professional?

If your entire sales talk is professional, you are likely to lose to someone who’s talk is 50% professional and 50% friendly–combined with funny. Friendly and funny are a thousand times more engaging than professional. If you doubt that, take a look at any late night TV host. Are they professional or funny? How much are they making? How much are you making?

I don’t mean to compare your sales presentation to a David Letterman monologue, but I am going to compare the way you think you have to present versus the way your prospective buyer would like to be presented to. I have incorporated sales talk with funny talk for the last 30 years and not only has it made me a ton of sales, it has also made me a ton of friends. It will do the same for you.


4. The difference between a joke and a story

Most salespeople reduce themselves to joke tellers or should I say, joke re-tellers, or should I say bad joke re-tellers. Joke telling is dangerous, and usually not very funny. First of all, most jokes are demeaning to one person or another. Second of all, jokes sound contrived, almost like you’re trying too hard. And worst of all, if the customer has heard the joke before, it makes you look like a complete idiot–especially in the end when you’re the only one laughing.

Stories on the other hand are genuine. They tell about experience, they can use self-effacing humor, and they’re engaging. Often times when you tell a story, it makes the prospect think of a story and they will most likely reciprocate with a story of their own (in storytelling that’s called a “topper”).

If you can get a story of his or hers, that’s also a rapport builder. Story-telling is also effective in your sales presentation when getting the prospect to relate to your product or service. Facts and figures are forgotten, stories are retold.


4.5 Laughter is universal.

The use of humor in sales is almost never taught. The reason why: most sales training and most sales trainers aren’t that funny. I’m not saying that if you’re not funny you’re not valid, but I am saying that if I’m in a selling situation against you and I’m funny and you’re professional or I’m funny and you’re not funny, I will win the sale more often. If you don’t consider yourself a funny person, study humor or read about how to become more humorous.


You can debate how much humor to use, you can debate when humor is most affectively inserted, you can even debate the type of humor that should be used. But you cannot deny the power of laughter as a universal bond from human to human, AND from human to sales order form.


The late George Burns once said, “With the death of Vaudeville, new comedians have no place to stink.” What he meant was in order to be great at humor, you have to try it out and be willing to fail at it. Just because you fail to get a laugh a few times doesn’t mean you should quit. Humor takes time, humor takes intelligence, humor takes trial and error and humor takes practice.

But, rest assured humor also takes the order.


Free GitBit. Want a list of things you can do to be more humorous? They’re yours by going to www.Gitomer.com, and enter the word HUMOR in the GitBit box.


Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com. He can be reached at  [email protected]


© 2009 All Rights Reserved – Don't even think about reproducing this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer • 704/333-1112

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