Always have a good story ready. That’s what, in my opinion, a true salesman has to do every day. Not just an elevator pitch and consequent sales story, but preferably an anecdote or cracking joke. Just to elevate the atmosphere or simply get people’s attention by surprise.
I seem to have a good, associative memory for jokes and also seem to know when to tell the right one. The one I most often tell came back in the mental ‘joke-carousel’ when I saw the pope recently, shaking hands during one of his visits abroad. My hero for this particular joke, Mr. Johnson, who’s a good friend of the pope, is eventually recognized by a total stranger on St. Peter’s Square while the pope is just labelled as ‘that guy in the white dress’. I know the long version and the short version of the joke, by the way.
After telling jokes like this, people regularly burst into laughter. They experienced an unexpected twist in a story, realized it is indeed funny, and let go of their emotions. You got their attention now, with their brain focused on what else you have to tell. And they already like you, even before you started the serious part.
I bet you will ask me to tell another one of these great jokes next time we meet. I’ve got a few more, I promise. But always expect a serious (sales) story to follow. One you won’t be able to forget either.