The first thing we want to do is understand why humor in sales works.
And the answer to that is connection.
Whenever you are reaching out to prospects about your product or service, the main goal is to establish a connection. Find some commonality from which you can build rapport.
You are looking for this when you're researching them as well, but they won't always be as easy as simply having both been alumni of the same university.
So what else do humans need to form a connection with others that is also easy to establish quickly?
You don't have the time or luxury to wine and dine your prospects on a cold email.
But you can send them something that will cause them to crack a smile.
And getting that smile means that they start developing a positive relationship with you as a sender.
Because humor does work. Salesman and stand-up comedian Jon Selig
can easily establish the similarities between the two roles in his life.
Salespeople are always trying to get to the pitch or call to action. Just like comedians are always trying to get to the punchline.
In both cases, we employ storytelling to build up value to that pitch or punchline for the audience, so that the pay-off is greater.
And, if you make it a personal mission to get your prospect to smile, they have a good time and feel touched. It's a more personalized approach. Especially if you do enough research to tailor your humor accordingly.
In Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive
, authors Noah J. Goldstein, Robert B. Cialdini, and Steven J. Martin revealed some interesting facts:
When performing outreach, if you send a funny, inoffensive cartoon to the person you're negotiating with, those receiving it reported feeling a higher level of trust. Which led to a 15% larger profit for companies utilizing humor in this way in their outreach.
A real-life example of using humor in sales is DollarShaveClub
. Ahead of their time, and capturing the zeitgeist of subscription services of the early 2010s, they developed just that for razor blades.
At the time, their approach was unconventional and, shall we say, millennial. But it was well worth it. In 2016, Unilvever acquired the company
for one billion dollars in cash. And this was because they had seen them build rapport with their target audience via the use of humor.