Funny Business in B2B Sales & Marketing
B2B sales takes time. Some commodity sales involve a quick buying decision. But most products / services have a buying process that takes months or years. The goal of the initial outreach to prospects is to build trust and awareness. You are not going to close a sale on the first contact! Given this, it is surprising that humor is not used more often as part of the outreach messaging.
Use humor to differentiate from the competition
The average office worker in North America receives 121 emails per day. The email click through rate is a paltry 3.1% (Epsilon Q2 2018 “Email Trends and Benchmarks Report”). How do you rise above the noise and get your email opened and responded to? How do you get prospects to take your phone call and pay attention?
Try the blindfold test. Replace your company name with your competitors' name. Does the messaging still make sense? If it does, you have a big problem. Your customers won't be able to understand how you are different than the other guys.
Humor is a great way to stand out. It helps break through the prospects’ defense mechanisms. Humor creates a positive emotional response towards both the sales rep and your products.
Humor gets the buyer’s attention. Break the pattern of the same repeated formula that your competitors are using – do you have problem x? we have product y that helps solve this problem. Blah blah blah.
Use humor to drive action / elicit a response
a) Humor is a great way to convey that you know and understand your customers and the challenges they face.
b) Think about your prospect. They are likely overworked and stressed. If your messaging is directed at reminding them of a unaddressed problem you are increasing their stress load. Contrast this with a humorous message. Laughter makes people feel good. Literally.
Numerous research studies have shown that laughter reduces anxiety. Humor relaxes your prospects and helps open their minds to your messaging and ideas.
Just a few of the many research papers on this topic;
· Lefcourt, H. M., & Martin, R. A. (1986). Humor and life stress: Antidote to adversity. New York, NY, USA: Springer.
· Martin R. A., Lefcourt H. M. (1983). Sense of humor as a moderator of the relation between stressors and moods. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 1313–1324. 10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1243
If you are following best practices, you tailor your outreach for each prospect. No spray and pray. Take time to look over your prospect’s LinkedIN profile, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds. You should be able to get a sense for their personality and if humor is appropriate.
This is a good example of a funny video from Zendesk; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPtnoRqQa5U
Note how the entire video is about the problem that Zendesk helps address. It’s memorable, on point and everyone can relate to the message.
For your next email, cold call or marketing campaign, try infusing some humor into the messaging. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. At a minimum, this is a great way to stand out from the competition.
About the Author: Bryan Socransky is the Principal Consultant of Disruptive Consulting Group. Bryan's experience spans over 25 years in some of the most competitive B2B sectors including enterprise software and SaaS. Now he is applying this experience to help enterprise software, SaaS & IT companies grow. https://www.disruptiveconsultinggroup.com/