Often in sales, you will find that the best product doesn’t always win out.  Many times, organizations, or better yet, people, will buy a product or service based off their experience with a particular sales rep, not the actual product itself.  Having been on both sides of the sales and buying process, I have seen the huge value that humor has in sales.

I began my sales career at the international IT solutions giant CDW.  I was rep 4161.  Having just graduated Miami University with an Exercise Science and Nutrition degree (and not one business class), I was ready to sell some computers!  What I wasn’t ready for was the rude awakening I received as I “cut my teeth” in sales.  The expectation while selling for CDW was to build my book of business from the ground up. That meant researching and cold calling 100 business a day trying to get them move their business from their current provider to me and CDW.  Knowing nothing about the technology products that I “sold” and even less about sales, my days were filled with countless hours of rejection.     

The constant rejection was grueling and made me second-guess my initial career choice.  A couple months into it I realized that I sounded robotic and scripted through my calls.  In effort to try something different, I made the decision to let my humor and personality out on these calls.  People started laughing on my calls, and agreeing to talk with me for longer stretches.

15 years and two business later, I find myself on the other side of the fence.  Now receiving the same calls that I once made, many sales reps still sound scripted and mechanical.  If someone doesn’t make me laugh, they most likely won’t have a great opportunity to sell me, especially off a cold call. 

By introducing humor in sales provides, you allow the following to happen:  

Pattern Disruption

Prospects typically follow a pattern or script, especially if you are cold calling or engaging with them for the first time.  The use of humor tends to disrupt the automatic reaction and typically makes your prospect stop and think.  

Differentiate Yourself

The world has become tremendously noisy!  Think about the sheer volume data and distractions that come at you every day.  So how does a sales professional stick out from the rest of the noise?  Be Memorable! Humor can go a long way in helping you stick out from all the other noise your prospect may be experiencing. 

Lower Their Guard

To effectively sell something, sales professionals need to understand an individual or organization’s pain points.  It’s difficult to uncover pain if your prospect’s guard is up!  One way to lower their guard and get them talking is through humor.  The use of humor shows that there’s another person on the other side of the conversation, not a faceless company or a robot. Showing that person side often enables the prospect to feel comfortable talking about their issues.