Rather than run a mile a minute, my thoughts run a mile a second. Once my mind takes off, my thoughts branch out and I have a split second to decide the path I want to go down. It’s usually the road not taken, Robert Frost style. Running mental marathons can be exhausting and saying “um” and “uh” is like abruptly slowing down when I need time to think and keep conversations flowing. As a Sales Development Representative always engaging with customers, learning to stop using filler words to keep a natural pace helps to better understand the customer’s concerns and needs.
Why Do We Use Filler Words?
Using filler words to avoid mid-sentence gaps and stay on track can stem from a lack of confidence. Whether it be from a lack of preparation or a confrontation with unexpected questions, having low confidence in engaging with customers during the sales steps process enables relying on filler words to race through the pitch.
Overthinking and being hesitant about your ideas also lends itself to using them to preface your thoughts. However, silence in conversations doesn’t have to be awkward. Limiting your usage of an occasional “uh” and allowing brief pauses shows that you’re thinking of ways to address a customer’s needs and questions.
Should we stop using them completely?
Neutral filler words such as “like” can humanize pitches and give customers time to warm-up to absorb information, when used sparingly. But if you’re running on borrowed time, they can take away from effectively communicating with your customer. Filler words with implied meanings not only distract from your message but they can also unintentionally distort its meaning.
For example, a word like “truthfully” can imply that the rest of the information in a pitch is unnecessary or, worse, dishonest. While unintentional and subconsciously persistent, filler words and their presence in the sales steps process are best to eliminate and some that are inconsequential and comfortable, such as “like”, are best kept to a minimum.
Becoming More Aware of Your Patterns
To learn what filler words you use most, team up with a fellow SDR to listen to each other’s cold calls to relay what words you use after the call ends. Holding each other accountable and supporting one another in the sales steps process is essential for effectively communicating with your customers as well as with each other. From here, you can understand your most used filler words and how to address why they’re used.
If replacing a filler word with a brief pause feels awkward, let the customer know that you’re taking notes or want to fully understand their situation to give meaning to taking pauses. Experiencing moments of silence while thinking critically is nothing to be afraid of and knowing this makes it easier to feel comfortable and confident.
Limiting the overuse of filler words is a surefire way to avoid getting off on the wrong foot. But don’t sweat it if you need to use the occasional “um” to jog your memory. Gaining an understanding and awareness of using filler words in the sales steps process is essential for making strides in conversations, engaging with customers, and effectively communicating in the long-run.