A lesson from a laugh. Listen to this one.

A lesson from a laugh. Listen to this one.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at gitomer.me.

480A lesson from a laugh. Listen to this one.

Ho, ho, ho.

No, it’s not Christmas. But it is the season to be jolly. Jolly is always in season. Some people look at it as a “laugh” – I look at it as a learning device, listening tool, attention grabber, self healer, powerful selling tool, and — of course — fun.

An airline flight attendant from Alaska airlines started his “flight safety announcements” with the statement: “Welcome to Alaska’s flight #320 to San Francisco – if you’re not headed to San Francisco, now would be a great time to get off the plane, and one of our friendly gate agents will steer you in the right direction.”

I was smiling – so were the rest of the passengers.
I was listening – so were the rest of the passengers.

My name is Mark, I’m the lead flight attendant.” He continued, “My ex-wife Sandra, and her new boyfriend, Bill, will be serving you in the back cabin today. This should make for an interesting flight.” Now I was laughing (and I was listening). And so was every passenger on the plane. And I listened to EVERY WORD he said from then on.

I get in airplanes more than 200 times a year, and I NEVER listen to the safety instructions. Oh, I hear them mumbling, but I don’t LISTEN (pay attention) to them. This flight was different. After the first joke, I was listening for the next joke (and to the instructions). This guy was genuinely funny.

The object of the safety instructions, or any oral communication, is to get people to LISTEN. Otherwise, why make it? If you’ve ever seen the way “safety instructions” are given on an airplane, you’d howl. One attendant hides behind a wall and reads a script in a monotone, while another robotically goes through the motions of pantomiming what the other has said. It’s a joke — but a pathetic one. No one listens.

On the newer planes, they now have safety videos where one person of every race creed and religious orientation is in each scene, and all of them are plastic (with a white male pilot, of course). This technological innovation does have one thing in common with its “human” predecessor — no one pays attention. It’s dull. Their communication is without an iota of a compelling reason to listen. In the beginning they beg you to pay attention to this IMPORTANT safety announcement. No one does — not even the flight crew.

Are people listening to you? Are you sure?
Are they listening to your presentation? Are you sure?
Are they paying attention to your important communications? Are you sure?
MAJOR CLUE: How much humor is in your communication?
Here’s the rule: Laughter leads to listening.

Whatever you say AFTER you say something funny, will be heard and remembered 10 times more than to drone on and “think” or “expect” that others hear them – much less are listening. In short, laughter leads to listening and creates the highest listening environment.

What makes laughter make people listen better? Easy — people would rather be laughing. After the first laugh you want — maybe even expect, another. I wasn’t disappointed with that Alaska flight attendant. After the first round of laughs he continued: “If you’re caught smoking, we throw you off the plane immediately. And for those of you who brought a TV with you on board, it will not work.” Then he gave the announcement about smoking and electronic devices. Perfect. Laugh, then listen. Every person on the plane was paying complete attention.

What can the power of laughter do for you and your sales? Listen up (please pay attention, this is REALLY, REALLY important). After laughter:

  • The prospect is listening.

  • The prospect is more “in the mood” to buy.

  • During your talk, the prospect is on the edge of their seat listening for what’s next.

  • During your one hour sales presentation, the prospect won’t look at their watch ONCE.

  • “Funny” bridges the gap between professional and friendly

    Got humor? To get a laugh, or a bunch of laughs, here are a few things you’ll need to do:
    1. Test your humor on a friend to be sure it’s funny before you say it.
    2. Make sure the laugh is at your own expense, not at someone else’s.
    3. Not funny? Study humor.
    3.5 Timing is everything. Study comedians. They know HOW and WHEN to deliver a punch-line, and how long to pause.

    And beyond the listening and the understanding by the prospect, the most powerful, unspoken part of laughter is that it’s tacit approval. A prospect’s laughing is a form of personal agreement. Once you get tacit approval (ie: they like you), then all you need is verbal approval, and you have the order. Then the joke is on the competition. Ho, ho, ho.

    Free GitBit… Want to learn a few more ways to be funny? I’ve prepared a list of 15.5 ways you can. If you would like the list, just go to www.gitomer.com (register if you’re a first time visitor) and enter the word HUMOR in the GitBit box.

    Jeffrey Gitomer, 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 704/333-1112 or e-mail to salesman@gitomer.com