Many a sales people often find themselves in situations where using humor creatively can ease tensed selling environments, build rapport quicker, or cool frosty pasts, clearing the way for the start of a business relationship or even solidifying existing ones.
Doing business development or sales work, especially if your company has been a round for long and other people have held your role in the past, can sometimes create hostile client or customer situations arising out of problems with a previous project, whether you were there then or not.
This situation turns often to the big elephant in the room, blocking the best of good intentions and often making it difficult to progress meaningfully with anything you are trying to do with the customer. So many of us attempt to use humor to break down such barriers and soften the person (s) on the other side.
Even when your intention is genuine, using humor during client calls and in seeing scenarios can sometimes backfire. So should a sales person use humor at all during sales calls?
As pointed out earlier, humor, when it connects well, can be a good foundation to building rapport quickly. However, humor (and this is not to be confused with being pleasant, professional in approach, or polite in manners) is not a fundamental requirement in practicing your sales profession, otherwise it would be listed as part of job requirements, praised in CV’s, highlighted in LinkedIn profiles or be part of professional sales training.
On the other hand, humor when well used is seen as capable of relaxing the atmosphere and putting people at ease, it helps to better memorizing information and supports bonding buyer with seller. In presentation skills it is recommended adding supporting humor slides for making an important and memorable point. There is even a notion of ‘halo effect’ associated with humor, leaving a strong first impression and attributing it to the seller’s brilliance while giving the sales person a significant advantage over his or her competitor.
So using humor is very tempting, just like Charles Dickens said, “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”
Should you then fall for this temptation and use humor during sales calls? We will discuss that in the second part of this post next week!