What’s So Funny About Being Professional?

What’s So Funny About Being Professional?

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.

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 it’s old and the reason it’s been around so long is that it’s true.

Humor and laughter are two key ingredients in building relationships and gaining customers.

The challenge with humor?

People don’t know how to use it.

People don’t know when to use it.

Most 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 about your product; it’s easy to learn about your customer; it’s easy to learn the science of selling-but it’s hard to learn the science of humor and harder to learn how to place that humor into your sales presentation. The beauty of humor is that it relaxes people and creates a more open atmosphere. That atmosphere leads to friendship, respect, and compatibility. I refer to it as the final frontier because it’s the last element you put into your selling process. You put it in when you’ve mastered understanding your product, understanding your customers and their business, and understanding the science of selling. If you use humor and don’t understand the other three elements, you will be a clown who makes no sales. Humor will do more than “get you by”-it will solidify your relationship and the sale.

2. Using humor shows the highest form of language mastery. If you’ve ever heard someone say, “Boy, that guy’s just naturally funny,” he’s probably an extremely intelligent person. Humor is the most difficult of nuances to master, but once you master humor, you have the basis for solid intellectual rapport and solid intellectual engagement. Take note: Not all prospects require or desire humor, and you can tell who they are right away. They never laugh at anything. The best thing to do when this scenario occurs is to eliminate humor from your sales presentation and pray the prospect is not price shopping. But from my experience, I can tell you the prospect probably is price shopping. People who “just want to get down to brass tacks,” are usually people who just want to “get down to brass prices.”

3. The best humor combines professional, friendly, and funny. If your entire sales talk is professional, you are likely to lose to someone whose sales talk is 50 percent professional and 50 percent friendly and funny combined. 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 you to present. I have incorporated sales talk with funny talk for the last 30 years. Besides making me a ton of sales, it has made me a ton of friends. It will do the same for you.

4. When it comes to humor, know 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 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. When you tell a story, it often makes the prospect think of another story and will engage you back and forth in storytelling (In storytelling that’s called a “topper.”) If you can get a story from the prospect, you’ll build rapport. Storytelling is also effective in your sales presentation because it helps the prospect relate to your product or service. Facts and figures are forgotten-stories are remembered and repeated.

4.5 Laughter is universal. Using humor in sales is almost never taught. Why? Because most sales training and most sales trainers aren’t funny. I’m not saying if you’re not funny, you’re not good-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 and learn how to use it as a sales advantage.

You can debate how much humor to use; you can debate when humor should be used; 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 Burns actually meant was in order to be great at using humor, you have to try it out and be willing to fail. Just because you fail to get a laugh a few times doesn’t mean you should quit. Mastering humor takes time, intelligence, trial and error, and 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. Register if you’re a first time user, 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 704/333-1112 or e-mail to salesman@gitomer.com

c 2004 All Rights Reserved – Don’t even think about reproducing this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer 704/333-1112