How can you strengthen your advisor relationships?
And build trust?
And separate yourself from The Sea of Sameness?
Our guest proves that business humor is no laughing matter.
It’s a seriously effective way to improve your practice.
Karyn Buxman is a neurohumorist and TEDx speaker (“How Humor Saved the World”).
Her expertise in High Performance Humor comes from her unique career that resides at the intersection of humor and the brain.
Karyn has addressed MDRT (4x), NASA, the USAF, and 829 other clients whose names are not acronyms.
Her eighth book, Funny Means Money: Mastering High Performance Humor, will be published by ForbesBooks in February 2018.
To inquire about booking Karyn Buxman for your next event through Wholesaler Masterminds Speakers Bureau contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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How to Cut Through the White Noise: Using Humor in Sales
Your prospects and your customers are inundated, flooded, overwhelmed and irritated by pitches and offers and deals and emails and voice mails and direct mail and sales sheets and brochures and magazines and ezines and blogs and podcasts and cold calls and warm calls.
This white noise is the environment in which your prospects and your customers live. Every day. All day. (It’s amazing that anything actually gets done, isn’t it?)
So how do you cut through the white noise?
As Steve Jobs said, “Think different.” As The Harvard Business Review said, “The workplace needs laughter.” As sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer said in The Sales Bible, “Laughter is tacit approval.”
And Forbes Magazine listed “humor” as a top 10 business skill. But I’ll bet that among the seminars and books that are part of your professional development, there’s not a single one on humor.
Well it’s time to get serious about humor! (I’ve always wanted to say that.)
I can hear some of you muttering, “I’m already pretty damn funny!” That’s fantastic! Now how about going from good to great?
Others of you are tempted but concerned because, “Sometimes humor can blow up in your face!” You’re right! I can show you how to avoid those humor landmines.
Others of you are simply being honest when you say, “I’m just not a funny person.” That’s great! Because it is more important to SEE funny than BE funny. (I can hear sighs of relief from many of you.)
And I see a few of you in the back row with your arms crossed, muttering, “This is all bull. Business is about business, not monkey business!” (These folks are among the humor impaired. There’s still hope for them; my psychoneuroimmunologist colleagues are working on a pill for that.)
But all these folks raise a good question.
Why use humor at all? Because…
- Humor connects. When two or more people laugh together at the same thing, it strengthens their relationship.
- Humor builds trust. Strong relationships become trusting relationships. And yes, people always prefer to conduct business with people they trust.
- Humor communicates. Humor can communicate both overt/objective information and subtle/emotional information.
- Humor makes you human. And relatable. And approachable. And different from most of your competitors.
- Humor sells. You’ve heard it said that “Logic tells. Emotion sells.” It’s true. And humor is one of fastest ways to elicit positive emotions.
- Humor generates emotion. It stimulates the limbic system (the emotion-generating of your brain).
- Humor is fast. It can be a shortcut to bonding people. You can get to know someone faster over a few shared jokes or anecdotes than by trading your basic biographical information.
So why would you not use humor? And while you’re at it, why not shoot for High Performance Humor? Here are three (of the dozens of) ways you can cut through the white noise by upping your humor game.
1. Become a humor appreciator
(This is the part about SEEING funny instead of BEING funny.) Just as you are on the lookout for prospective clients, now be on the lookout for prospective humor. Both are abundant around you. I guarantee it.
But if you aren’t looking for the humor, you won’t find the humor. Often when I coach my clients to SEE funny, they protest, “You don’t understand. There’s nothing funny happening around me.” Well, if this is your belief, then it will be your reality. But if you intentionally look for humor around you, you will begin to see and hear humor that others have missed—for example these signs I’ve actually seen:
- If door does not open, do not enter
- Our teachers make a differance
- Touching wires causes instant death. $200 fine.
2. Take action
Many business communications (emails, voicemail messages, etc.) are very straightforward. Some call this “businesslike.”
Much of it is actually “boring.”
Try being a little more casual (some would say more human). Start small. Add humorous quotations to the bottom of your emails. (The more relevant to your client’s industry the better.) Add humorous photos you’ve taken of funny signs or other crazy things. Add images from the web. There are a million memes out there—and there are definitely thousands that would be appropriate for you to use.
“But you don’t understand! My industry/clients are a pretty serious lot.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. A colleague of mine works in the staid world of the boards of directors of non-profit organizations. Here is her bio—which her clients read aloud as her introduction when she speaks:
“Carol Weisman, founder of Board Builders, began her professional career working with gangs—a surprisingly helpful background for working with boards. She found the gangs to be better organized, better at communicating the organization’s goals, and better at training their leaders. Carol does not recommend that you join a gang, or conduct fundraising activities in a manner that could end in incarceration—but gangs certainly have a thing or two to teach us!”
Lighten up! Be willing to poke fun at yourself. Self-deprecating humor not only makes you more human, but this act of vulnerability will enhance the feeling of trust among your listeners. And people don’t buy from people they don’t trust. You don’t have to pull all the skeletons from your closet! But share how you showed up at a sales presentation with socks that didn’t match, or accidentally brought your six-year-old’s school lunch to work.
3. Be consistent
Using humor once in awhile can be entertaining. But it’s not going to get you the results you’re looking for. To build rapport, to increase likeability, and to stay top-of-mind you need to be consistent with your humor.
- One of my clients includes New Yorker-like cartoons in their PowerPoint presentations. (Custom made cartoons! Cartoons that sometimes feature their potential clients by name!)
- I know of one salesman who purposely calls potential clients after-hours, and leaves very clever and funny messages. He gets call-backs from 46% of his first messages. And 61% from his second messages. And here’s the kicker: His messages are so entertaining that some people ask him to call them more often. Have you ever had clients and potential clients ask you to call them more often?! This is the power of humor in the business world.
Humor by chance is entertaining.
But humor by choice produces results. Focused and practical results. Results that go straight to the bottom line.
Humor, wielded with skill, is a great—and often overlooked—way to cut through the white noise.
Written by Karyn Buxman