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Selling Tactics
Using Humor Effectively With Prospects and Customers
By Jim Kasper, President & CEO, Interactive Resource Group

One of the most valuable "people" tools which you can successfully employ in your sales efforts is humor.

Selling is all about people. You'll often hear that selling is a "people profession." And that may be one of the reasons why you got into sales. One of the most valuable "people" tools which you can successfully employ in your sales efforts is humor.

Some successful sales veterans have told us their customers actually look forward to a visit or a call from them. Why? Their customers say they're fun to be around. Their visits are a bright and warm departure from an otherwise routine and mundane day. Sound familiar? If not, maybe you need to lighten up a little.

Our profession can and should be fun. Dean, a computer hardware representative with 20 years of experience, told us that he views his client visits as mostly business interspersed with fun. Dean uses his unique wit to humor his customers. They look forward to his visits with anticipation and appreciate his stories.

Sometimes, Dean will disguise his voice in a different manner each time he calls. He does this, of course, after familiarizing himself with a customer. Dean has established quite a following and has become quite well known among his customers, their staffs, fellow salespeople, partners, and even his competition. As a result, his brand of humor has aided him in establishing a special relationship with all those he deals with. He is a bright spot in their day and as a result, accomplishes things that no one else can. If you asked his customers, "What can you tell me about Dean?" they would recall Dean as someone who brought a smile to their faces on an otherwise stressful day. If he hadn't used humor, Dean would just be "another salesman who wants to sell us something." He did something which made him stand out. Remember that a key premise in successful selling is that people buy from people they like.

If you'd like to stand out by using your sense of humor, here are a few tips:
  • Listen carefully to your clients to determine what the appropriate humor style is. Be prepared to adapt your "humor strategy" to match that of your clients, but know that, with some customers, humor will not be an option. For them, you'll have to pursue a "strictly business" approach.
  • E-mail appropriate cartoons and jokes to them only after you've received their permission to do so. They may not appreciate the impact on their inboxes. Never E-mail anything even remotely "off-color", offensive, or suggestive. E-mailing is an easy way to stay in touch and shows you're thinking of them.
  • Determine your client's special interests and hobbies and use humorous anecdotes that are pertinent to them. For example, if they play golf, good jokes abound about the trials and tribulations of the struggling golfer.
  • Use humor to discharge tense or uneasy situations. If your customer is stressed about closing your sale, use a little humor to relieve the pressure.
Used judiciously, your sense of humor can be a great tool for you to positively impact your customers' perception of you and your company. Try it; you'll be pleased with the results and, you'll have a few good laughs, too!

Jim Kasper is the Founder and President of Interactive Resource Group. Mr. Kasper has over 26 years of practical experience in direct sales, sales management, sales training, and marketing. Contact him at or call 800-891-7355

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