There's a difference between making your prospect laugh and being funny.
Being in control of your environment with situational awareness and making people laugh during an opportune moment is a passive state on your part and is fine.
The opposite of funny is an active state and will derail the sale.
Once you are "trying to be funny," you're now a dancing monkey.
Stop trying to entertain and trying to be funny and trying to amuse anyone.
It implies that their world is more important than yours and that you are there as a distraction or sideshow vs being a key component in their lives.
Less Is More
In business and in life, less is more.
In the world of dating or "pick up artists" there's an adage, "Don't say what you can nod, don't nod what you can wink, don't wink what you can smile."
In the military, I learned
- Never run when you can walk.
- Never walk when you can stand.
- Never stand when you can sit.
- Never sit when you can lay down.
- Never lay down when you can sleep."
(By Capt. Andrew Haldane on The Pacific S01E07, "Peleliu Hills")
You need to convey your messages without "trying."
The sale should come naturally, or at least feel natural.
If the prospect thinks they are being "worked" or that you are trying to make a sale or that you are following a script or a one-size-fits-all method, then you'll experience pushback, resistance, stalls, objections, and lost sales.
You should come across as natural, low effort, vs a hard closer.
There are three levels of social/professional interaction:
- Lame (for lack of a better term), i.e. no sense of humor
- Not-lame, i.e., quick-witted, able to think on your feet, comfortable being the center of attention
- Above the fray with no need to be funny
Humor is a high-energy behavior.
High energy levels are not congruent with appearing "non-hungry."
It's harder to hold such a high energy level.
You need to get prospects to MOVE! (An object at rest remains at rest...)
When you get them to a high energy level then it's too hard to maintain that for extended periods of time, which means when you let up—which will happen—then the momentum is down and away from you.
Your prospect notices their most recent energy change, which is away from you, which delays or kills the sale.
Being self-deprecating is an easy and effective way to be funny.
Why would a prospect ever buy from someone that comes across as weak or subservient?
Sure, the best salespeople serve the needs of their customers...but we are not servants.
Prospects are decision-makers and they are looking for assistance, guidance, and reassurance in making the best decision, therefore, they are looking for strong, confident salespeople with skills, expertise, and experience, not a goofball or a doofus.
You can still create laughter and relaxation with your prospects through the release of nervous energy...but you have to build that up first.
You do that through positioning, through professionalism, which is built up or taken down in dozens or even hundreds of ways, thus the "Make Every Sale" concept and program I created.
How your website looks, the verbiage in your emails, your tonality, and pace on your voicemails, how you are dressed, look, and even smell when you first meet, the type of briefcase or computer bag you carry, how you conduct a demo or review the catalog or the paperwork all say something about you.
They all convey a message.
They all position you as someone below, even with, or above your prospect.
The best way to do this—and the way true professionals sell—is to understand your role of "hurt and rescue."
Your Role is "Hurt and Rescue"
What I mean by that is during the engagement with your prospect, your job is to find the pain, bring it to the surface, have your prospect come face-to-face with it, and put a price on it, probably for the first time ever.
That is the "hurt," in much the same way your doctor has to poke and prod and move your arm or leg and ask "does it hurt when I do this?" YES, IT DOES!
"On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad does it hurt?"
If you aren't at least at a level 7 or 8 you won't even go to the doctor to find a solution.
If you're at a 3 or 4 or 5 you'll just search WebMD or ask your Facebook friends "How do I get rid of mild, persistent headache?" or "I've had a mild rash on my calf for a few days, how should I treat it?"
When you visit the doctor and tell her you're in pain, it's the doctor's job to listen but not trust your reasoning and explanation for the pain.
It's her job to confirm that pain, then poke and prod all around that pain to see if it is real, if something else is contributing to it, and/or if that pain is actually being caused by something else.
I can't tell you how many times I've gone to my chiropractor and he adjusts a rib on the left side of my lower back to ease pain in the right side of my neck or shoulder.
Once your doctor finds the pain, confirms the pain, confirms the extent and the ramifications of the pain, she then writes a prescription, which could be a simple over-the-counter remedy or expensive medications, or even surgery.
Most of us follow the orders of our doctors, regardless of the price because we want the pain to go away.
Your Job Is To Ask Better Questions
In sales, during the "hurt" portion of "hurt and rescue," the final stage is to ask the prospect "In round numbers, how is this impacting your business/profitability?"
This is where you need to be comfortable being in the presence of a silent, searching, uncomfortable patient/prospect.
Until they say "This is costing me $100 / $1,000 / $10,000 / $100,000 per day / per week / per year," whatever you recommend will be too expensive.
However, if they admit to having a problem that is costing them $5,000 per month and you have a software or consulting package or product that costs $5,000 or $10,000 or even $30,000 that will make that $60,000 per year problem go away, guaranteed, then they will take you up on your offer.
If you don't get them to put a price tag on their business pain, you'll have a tough time making a $100 sale for that $5,000 problem because they haven't first admitted and quantified their own pain.
This creates that nervous tension in a professional. The prospect will then become the self-deprecating, funny, humorous one in the room and that's fine.
Allow the tension to be present. This is the underlying reasoning to the crude and faulty adage that "the first person to speak after you ask for the order loses."
Your prospect, who has come to you in pain and whom you've helped come to grips with it, state it, stare it down, name it, and quantify it maybe for the first time ever, is not "losing" when he orders from you...right?
So keep quiet and wait for the answer because only your prospect can find their truth. It's your job to ask the right questions to help them finally discover their truth.
You can't bring this about by trying to be funny and humorous or trying to make the prospect comfortable by distracting them away from their uncomfortable situation by clowning around.
It's better to be a stereotypical dry accountant or bookkeeper or librarian than the class clown.
Sure, you might miss a few sales in the beginning as you're learning and embracing this and making it your own, but trust me when I say your prospects will never be entertained while they have a nagging, unresolved issue on their minds.
Help them solve that pain and you'll be the most welcomed, appreciated visitor in their world.
Market like you mean it.
Now go sell something.
What do you think? Am I being too hard on funny salespeople? Let me know below.