A Funny Sales Tool

by Barry Neal


feature article


By Barry Neal

Can being funny really make you a better salesperson?  Absolutely.  Most salespeople sell the same product as their competitors. 

So why is one salesman more successful than another?  The answer is because the more successful salesperson is more likable.  It’s that simple. 


Why work with someone you don’t like if you can purchase a comparable product from someone you do like?  If you’re funny (without being obnoxious), then people will enjoy spending time with you, and are much more likely to do business with you.


Every dating survey I’ve ever read says women look for a man who has a good sense of humor, and can make them laugh.  If someone can make you laugh, there is a bond that grows between the two.  A good salesman will use this bond as a way to gain trust from the prospective customer.


A customer that trusts you will not only buy from you, but it will also foster loyalty between you and the client.  Laughter is also contagious.  If you are talking with numerous clients, if you can get one client to start laughing, you can get a group to start following suit, and pretty soon, you are controlling a meeting or working prospective customers.


Clients are constantly inundated by company’s salesmen trying to acquire their business.  Humor can be an important tool to rid themselves of that pushy, obnoxious sales image.  I try to put myself into the client’s shows. 


How would I like to get the same sales pitch every other week?  I try to use humor to put the client at ease.  Sometimes, I will get them on the line, and tell them they have to stop calling me. 


Other times, I try to tell a quick funny story about my newborn (I always like my clients to know a little bit about my personal life, so I’m not just a salesperson, but a human being with a family). The client may not buy from me that day, but if I can get a laugh or put a smile on their face, at least I’ve broken down their defenses, and they are certainly more apt to buy from me.


Nobody likes a high pressure sales pitch, and using humor certainly deflects the notion that we are only calling them to sell our product.  The fact is everyone makes mistakes, and nobody expects you to be perfect. 


If you can laugh at yourself, and have fun with the situation, you will put the client at ease letting them know that you are not so full of yourself that you can’t laugh at your own mistakes.


It’s important for a salesman to know their client.  In order to get someone to trust you, you need to do your homework.  I not only let them into my life, but I try to find out if they are married, have children, or like to play golf. 


The more you know about them, the easier it will be to know what jokes will work, and what stories will interest them.  It’s not hard.  If they like sports, then learn a little about that sport. When you can speak the language of the client, it’s easier to make jokes about that subject as well as being able to converse with them on their terms.


Simply put, your prospective client has many choices on where to spend their money.  There is never a shortage of salespeople that will be vying for that money.        


So, who will the client choose?  Most probably someone they feel some simpatico with.  It is so much easier to make a person laugh when they feel comfortable around you and feel that there is a bond between the two of you. 


However, don’t force the humor on anyone!  Remember, everyone likes different humor.  Analyze your client before forcing a certain style of humor on them.  Some clients may enjoy a broad, loud type of humor, while others need to have their humor subtle and erudite.Not that I would ever suggest stealing the questions to a test (certainly not if there’s a chance you will get caught), but if you had those questions, imagine how well you would score on that exam. 


So, get your answers about your client before you meet them.  You will have a decided advantage over your competition as only you may know he’s been divorced three times with child support up the ying-yang. 


Now sit back and laugh as your competitors ask the client if he’s married and has pictures of his kids.