Many salespeople aim to be strategic in their endeavors, but it’s unlikely that anyone has ever considered strategic humor as a method of growing sales.
What is strategic humor?
Strategic humor is using humor intentionally for the desired outcome. Many people think that the purpose of humor is entertainment. While this is true, it’s only one of the three main purposes of humor. The other two purposes are influence and well-being. For people who are high performers in sales, many of them already have a sense of humor and recognize that being funny can be helpful, but they have not thought about how they can implement it intentionally and consistently.
Humor and the brain:
When the brain goes into a threat state, this is the person putting up their guard or putting up resistance. When this happens, they are not hearing you to the degree that you want to be heard, they’re not connecting with you, and they have other things going on in their mind that put up a barrier to the sales process. This leaves the salesperson with the need to pull their potential client out of a resistance stage and bring them into an acceptance stage. When someone engages in humor and it’s a positive kind of humor, the person experiences a rush of positive neurochemicals that creates openness and decreases resistance. People want to do business with people that they perceive as open and positive.
Humor without jokes:
Using humor in sales sounds like a great idea, right? It can be used strategically, and there is neuroscience that supports the use of it for creating a bond with potential clients. But what do you do if being humorous doesn’t come naturally to you? Lucky for you, you may never actually have to tell a joke. High performers understand that they don’t have to be funny, they have to see funny. They don’t have to be the initiator, they have to be the appreciator. There are many ways that you can leverage humor without ever having to tell a joke yourself. Anecdotes, stories, and pulling stores from other people are great ways to appropriately integrate humor into sales conversations. Sales is so much about listening and asking the right questions, and as you go through that process, have a filter for openings. If your client makes a funny comment, how can you leverage that and build off of that? And so begins the process of using humor, without having to be funny yourself.