We all have moments in which sales success seems daunting, but those who master the art know there are tricks to the trade. As it turns out, humor may be one such "trick." In a recent study, humor was found to increase sales by 15%. Humor humanizes the sales process and, with proper direction, closes more deals. Here are a few tips on how to use humor to improve your sales performance.

Be Yourself
Trust is crucial in sales. The confidence a customer feels in you as a person has everything to do with your sales effectiveness. People notice if someone is not being genuine. Be yourself and let your natural humor shine through. It's a great way to cultivate a personal relationship with customers.

Keep It Light & Appropriate
Humor is subjective, so keep the topics light (and, of course, appropriate). A joke that makes one person laugh may offend another. As a rule, never make a joke at your customer's expense. Stay away from topics and content that are known to cause tension, such as: politics‚ sarcasm‚ profanity‚ anything sexist, racist, or with an ethnic theme

Laugh at Yourself
Jokes directed toward clients are a no-no, but laughing at one's self can have the right effect. Prospective buyers see a salesperson as more authentic when they use self-deprecating humor. Just make sure you don't take it too far, to the point that you undermine your credibility.

Stay on Track
Have fun, but keep in mind the point you intended to make in the first place. Don't get distracted while joking with the customer. If necessary, redirect the conversation back to the sale. Remember, your first priority is to deliver value to your customers.

Practice Your Humor
Practicing jokes beforehand is beneficial, but try not to sound staged. Focus on the impact of the words and how they sound; originality and flow make you seem approachable and secure.

Effective use of humor hinges on striking the right balance with your tone, subject matter and timing; but it is worth the effort. Humor can make your sales pitch more memorable and enjoyable for the customer.