Friday, October 5, 2007

Laugh all the way to the bank!

"I've found that humor can be an effective tool for moving the sale along at almost every stage of the process," says sales speaker and BusinessWeek Online Columnist Michelle Nichols.

However, using humor doesn't mean going overboard and acting like a goofball warns Nichols. Adding appropriate levity to a situation can increase your likeableness, and help establish that critical connection with customers. As a result, customers will listen more closely, and if trouble erupts, they're more likely to cut you some slack.

Here's some of Nichols' advice for injecting some humor into your sales process:

Get personal. One of the most powerful sources of humor is stories from your own life. Personal stories are easier to remember, which makes it easier to tell them smoothly. A little self-deprecation never hurts. For example, if my prospects are parents, I might tell them about my daughter. When her junior high was having Career Day, I asked if she wanted me to speak, since not everyone's mom is a columnist and speaker. "Oh great, how exciting," she moaned. "Why can't you be a pharmacist, or something that doesn't sound so boring?"

Talk about price. I have an old Mr. Boffo cartoon subtitled "The further adventures of the Bargain Hunter," depicting a guy displaying "Ed's Tattoo Parlor" tattooed on his chest in giant letters, saying, "Guess who got a free tattoo?" My point is, what is the real value of "free?" When I quote prices, the biggest potential sticking point, I like to say, "Your total is a mere $43,837.46." That always gets a laugh, and helps prospects over the price shock - at least for a moment.

Finish strong. A la David Letterman, an original Top Ten list of funny reasons the customer should buy from you, or buy right now, is an unusual approach - and could seal a deal.

Humor will put your customers at ease and help make the sale. So have fun playing with Nichols' ideas.

A warning to the humor-challenged: these are just suggestions. If it doesn't feel right, hey - don't do it! Remember: with humor, a little goes a long way.

This advice was excerpted from Top Dog Sales Secrets. Michelle Nichols is a popular sales speaker, consultant and columnist for BusinessWeek Online. Visit her site at
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