Getting off on the Right Foot: Engaging with Customers by Effectively Communicating

Written by Meghan Keough

Meghan is a sales development representative at The Selling Factory as well as a sophomore studying Business Administration at UF. Fueled by her passion for writing and storytelling, Meghan has immersed herself in academic writing and journalism since her freshman year of high school. She gathers her inspiration from her hobbies, including reading novels and discovering new TV shows and films.

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.

Victoria Zamitalo

Campaign Manager

Victoria received a BA in History and Economics from the University of Florida in May 2023. She is a driven sales professional with over 5 years combined experience in customer service, consumer relations and outbound sales, and is deeply passionate about fostering close relationships between consumers and sellers. She aims to train the next generation of sales professionals in not only the tricks of the trade, but also interpersonal skills that make sales the exciting and ever-changing industry that it is.

Mia Semel

Campaign Manager

Before graduating with a B.A. in Sustainability Studies, Mia took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, recruiting, and leading campaigns. She is an active listener and effective communicator, specializing in fostering genuine connections and finding common ground among differing perspectives. She aims to find practical, creative solutions regarding sustainable development, biodiversity and the climate crisis.

Kira Grieve

Senior Campaign Manager

Kira graduated from the University of Florida and received her Master of Science in Entrepreneurship. She is passionate about helping businesses grow and connecting with new people. Some of her hobbies include traveling and hiking. She hopes to visit all of the National Parks one day!

Jared Glosser

Vice President

After graduating from UF in 2014 with a B.A. in history, Jared started his professional career Fundraising for a non-partisan political lobby in South Florida. In 2016, Jared moved back to Gainesville to work for a non-profit, recruit students for international travel opportunities, and pursue his MBA at UF. Jared has been with The Selling Factory since 2019 focusing on operations, client onboarding, and client success.

Ian Massenburg

Chief Operating Officer

A graduate of University of Florida (B.A. 2001), Ian Massenburg brings over 18 years of sales executive and sales management experience to The Selling Factory. Before coming on-board, Ian worked alongside Brad at Infinite Energy, and then spent his next 3 years as VP of Partnerships selling SaaS products B2B. Ian brings his vast knowledge and experience to the team and to our partner companies served.

Damien Paulk

Campaign Manager

Damien is a University of Florida graduate that recently joined the team full time after working as a Sales Development Intern for one year. As a Campaign Manager, Damien looks forward to contributing to the growth and success of The Selling Factory. When Damien is not at work he enjoys exploring Gainesville with his girlfriend and dog or watching the Gators dominate college football.

Brendan Viehman

Campaign Manager

Brendan graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Project Management. For the past 5 years, he has enjoyed working with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency development. In his free time, he surfs and makes personal finance videos for his YouTube channel.

Savannah Howard

Campaign Manager

A graduate from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, Savannah obtained her Bachelor of Science in public relations with a concentration in French. After almost two years as a sales development intern for The Selling Factory, she joined the leadership team in 2021 taking on the role of Campaign Manager. In her free time, Savannah enjoys going to concerts and festivals and cooking for her friends and family.

Zack Kampf

Campaign Manager

Zack is a creative technologist with experience in advertising, event planning, and game design. He started as an SDR in 2018 and has been with TSF ever since. Upon graduating UF in 2019 he became a campaign manager and is currently seeking a master's degree from NYU. In his spare time, you can find him at the intersection of Art & Technology!

Josiah Blakemore

Growth Manager

Josiah has over 10 years of sales experience, worked with Brad and Ian at Infinite Energy, and also spent time selling SaaS as Director of Partnerships at SharpSpring. He’s always been very competitive and has a love for sports and games. He enjoys solving problems and coaching team members to do the same!

Sue-Ming Frauenhofer

Marketing Manager

Sue-Ming received both her B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Management from The University of Florida. As a student, she took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, marketing, and recruiting, eventually leading to her current role as Marketing Manager. She enjoys refining her taste in music and visual art, engaging in mindfulness and meditative practices, and frolicking outside with her sidekick pup.

Adam Grossman

Chief Development Officer

Adam is an ordained rabbi, who has founded multiple ventures focused on workforce development. Hired as CEO by a failing non-profit, in over 5 years, his ingenuity saved the organization, which led to recognize it as one of North America’s most innovative Jewish non-profits. His expertise to identify, cultivate, and on-board talent ensures our student teams meet our partners’ needs.

Brad Gamble

Chief Executive Officer

After graduating from UF in 1999 with a B.S.B.A, Brad Gamble has dedicated himself to sales management, branding, coaching, and building companies. He served as the VP of Sales & Marketing for Infinite Energy until 2014, when he founded The Selling Factory. He has dedicated himself to teaching critical skills to tomorrow’s leaders, and helping companies achieve sales success and revenue growth.