Increase Retail Sales with Laughter

customer laughing in bike store

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Updated 9/8/22

A shared laugh in a store makes everyone relax. Laughter, while shopping and selling, lowers our defenses and opens us up.

I can tell a great retail store just by listening. Can't you?

When both shoppers and associates are having fun, it can be appealing to everyone in the store.

When you are trying to increase retail sales, it isn't just about what you hear, it can be what you don't hear...

One of the outcomes we find when conditions are right in a retail store is that people are:

  • Relaxed.
  • Open.
  • Confident.

And laughter ensues.


The sound of joy, acceptance, and yes...

Making the sale.

Laughter as in an easy joke, an aside, or gentle kidding. I've seen the best salespeople deliver it in spades in a variety of sales situations.

Is laughter something that can be forced or trained?


This is why I've avoided writing this post for a while. I can hear the Analytical personality styles now, "So are we supposed to learn a bunch of jokes and use them on everyone?"


But I am saying, if you make a great hire, train them well, encourage them to not be a robot saying the same thing to every customer, you'll find laughter on your sales floor.

And laughter is one of the most powerful ways to surprise and delight customers.

Nope, surprise and delight aren't achieved with a discount, another Friends and Family day, or tax-free promotion.


Laughter shows a customer has found a real person. Open, engaging, engaged.

I haven't heard a lot of laughter in most stores - and that was pre-pandemic.

After nearly thirty years as a luxury sales trainer, I can tell you this much about retail sales training; it still has a lot of mystery around it.

That's because what people say they want, and what they really want are often two different things. 

As customers, we start the conversation with what we need. That's where the sloppy clerks thrive asking, "Can I help you?" - seeking to fill the stated needs like a point-and-click on the web.

Getting past that requires retail employees who can be allowed to be themselves. But that takes a foundation of building rapport first.

You don't joke with people you haven't built rapport with.

So how can you look for laughter? Some will say you need to have several funny stories to pull out at a moment's notice.

A seasoned professional may be able to do this, but not most people.

And why is humor important? 

Oracle recently released their Happiness Report which revealed:

  • 78 percent of people believe brands can do more to deliver happiness to their customers and 91 percent said they preferred brands to be funny; this number increased among Gen Z (94 percent) and Millennials (94 percent).
  • 75 percent of people would follow a brand if it’s funny on its social media channels, yet only 15 percent of business leaders said their brand is humorous on social.
  • 69 percent of people would open an email from a brand if the subject line were funnier, yet only 24 percent of business leaders said they actively use humor in email marketing campaigns.
  • 77 percent of people are more likely to buy from a salesperson that is funny, yet only 16 percent of business leaders said that their brands use humor to sell.

The key to using laughter on your sales floor is letting it start with the customer. When they are laughing, you can laugh and find other moments to make the laughter contagious.

Five quick rules to increase sales with laughter:

  • Listen for your customer to describe a situation or problem which makes them laugh.
  • Don't make fun of someone's nationality, looks, or background.
  • Keep it light, not dark.
  • Self-deprecating humor is always a good place to start.
  • If a joke doesn't land, and it might not, don't try to make your customer laugh by forcing a laugh yourself. Simply pivot back to the customer by asking a question.

And remember, the point of laughter is sharing a moment on the way to making a sale. Sometimes associates get caught up in trying to be funny which if kept at more than a few seconds, gets old and costs them the sale.

Selling the merchandise takes lots of tools and practice so the associate feels confident to engage a stranger. See also, How To Engage Retail Customers Begins With A Wow Moment

In Sum

Your employees must be comfortable on your sales floor, not worrying someone is looking over their shoulder to take away their personal style.

Your crew should be creating laughter with the people in front of them, the ones they are serving. Not between themselves or on the phone but with the customers.

To build rapport and make the sale, check out my online retail sales training program SalesRX below. 

Download the SalesRX Brochure & Outline