A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sale
by Scott Friedman, CSP
As uncertainty and anxiety in the business world reach epidemic proportions, people are searching for a new prescription to stay competitive, or at least sane! Humor is the perfect remedy! Humor has now been scientifically proven to relieve stress, improve productivity, motivate workers and increase sales!
A woman attending one of my seminars confirmed the power of humor. She said she used to worry about her son Brian. Brian didn't seem to fit in at school. Some days he came home from school crying because he didn't think he was liked by the other kids. Then one day everything changed! Brian raced home from school and proudly proclaimed that he had found the secret to making friends. "Just make them laugh," he beamed, "and they will like you!"
The same "secret" applies to sales of any sort. Successful selling is actually about making friends. The best salespeople seem to have a special knack for building rapport. By contrast, those who fail to do so generate just the opposite results. Have you ever gone out to buy something, found exactly what you wanted, but decided against buying it because you didn't like the salesperson'? A salesperson has the power to make or break the sale. It's really as simple as little Brian's axiom to make people laugh and they will like you. People buy from people they like. And they like people who make them laugh. Humor and laughter create instant rapport and camaraderie among people; they enhance receptivity and reduce resistance; they help establish a bond between people on which a relationship can be built. So once you get people laughing, you've laid the groundwork for doing business with them.
Good salespeople make the entire sales process fun. When they communicate, they touch not only the minds of their prospects, but their hearts and funny bones as well! It is important not to confuse a salesperson with a comedian. A comedian succeeds just by being funny, but a salesperson succeeds only when the humor helps to sell the product or service, or build customer loyalty.
People often say they envy those who are funny and able to make others laugh. But anyone can learn to be more humorous with a little effort and practice. Humor is a learned skill, like playing the guitar. It begins with cultivating an appreciation of humor whenever and wherever you find it, and then making the effort to incorporate humor rituals into your daily life, particularly your daily sales routine. Not every attempt will come off as you'd hoped, but the ultimate payoff for those who keep trying is increased commissions.
You are limited only by your imagination. Here are a few ideas to start your creative humor wheels turning toward improved business relationships and increased sales:
Even if you are selling the best product or service in the world, you increase your advantage if you incorporate just enough humor to break up the monotony and keep the prospect interested. You can't reason with someone who isn't paying attention!. Many a prospect has walked away from a sale out of sheer boredom. Humor attracts and holds attention. It appeals to a sense of enjoyment rather than a sense of logic.
One of the hottest places to develop new clients and stay in touch with existing ones is through the Internet. Because it is such a new medium, it is still a very personal Way to stay in touch. It's sort of like belonging to a private club! People tend to respond to e-mail messages more quickly and reliably than to phone messages or snail mail! Because it fosters a kind of playfulness, sharing positive, appropriate humor via e-mail can create an immediate bond. The World Wide Web has many sites from which to find this kind of clean, appropriate humor. Log on; go "surfing,',' and start sharing the wave of humor!
Will humor work with every sale? Nothing works all the time, but ask yourself: does it work with you'? Most people love a good laugh and are receptive to humor. Sometimes you just have to pay close attention to find their funny bones!
Every situation is unique. Each interaction with other people requires you to assess the situation from a fresh perspective. You must recognize individual nuances, make adjustments, and use good judgment. Common sense is a prerequisite for using humor successfully.
But, humor will never substitute for effective salesmanship. You must still know your product, be able to solve client problems, and be persistent in your follow-up. Humor win then give you the sales advantage because, remember, you're not in the "sales" business; you're in the "people" business. Humor is a technique that can be learned, practiced, and developed, 'just like other skills. Try it! Discover for yourself that those who chuckle have more fun and laugh all the way to the bank!
Copyright Scott Friedman. All Rights Reserved.
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