6 ways using filler words on a sales call hurts sales communication

Posted by:
Stewart White

Having trouble sounding confident and professional on calls? Do expressions such as “um” or “like” take up more than a quarter of your pitch? Um, maybe? Then you might be guilty of overusing verbal fillers during conversations with prospects and colleagues. Filler words are meaningless words or sounds that add little value to the content of conversations and are often uttered without purpose. Because the insertion of filler words in sales conversations is often unintentional, it can be a difficult fault to amend. Their use may arise due to hesitation, stalling, limited vocabulary, or simply habit. If compulsive throat-clearing or unnecessary interjections are defining your sales conversations, it may be time to work on your delivery.

1. Filler words waste valuable time

While transition phrases and filler words can be fine during in-person interactions, using them very often during a call with prospects can be a real issue. Filler phrases take up precious seconds that could be better spent mentioning key terms and significant points relevant to the sale. If you find yourself using filler words as a crutch to move the conversation along, it may be a sign you need to work on your sales pitch. Avoid incoherent rambling and focus on delivering the core message. Being succinct is essential to being an effective speaker, as concise and well-articulated explanations ensure you can deliver key information and hold the prospect’s full attention throughout the call.

2. Filler words make you sound unprepared

Not only do filler phrases take up valuable time from your pitch, but they can also detract from your performance. The extensive use of filler phrases often comes across as a sign of nervousness, unprofessionalism, and lack of preparedness. Would you trust someone who has difficulty finishing a sentence without using “umm….” at least three times? Failing to inspire confidence during calls can prevent you from closing important deals and keep you from making quota. Do you feel unprepared for calls, or simply have a serious case of call-induced nervousness? If you suffer from cold call anxiety, getting more practice in during training sessions can help you manage stressful situations. Attention helps sales reps work on their speech in order to gain the self-assurance they need to have productive conversations with clients.

3. Filler words ruin your pace

Overusing filler words can ruin the natural pace of your delivery and make for a clunky and awkward conversation. Are you speaking too quickly and losing your train of thought? Slow down and give yourself a chance to gather your thoughts. To maintain a good flow throughout calls, keep your sentences on the shorter side and insert well-placed pauses as a substitute for filler words. After all, filler words should not be a replacement for stopping to think! Take a deep breath and stop to reflect for a few moments if asked a particularly challenging question. If you’re still struggling to think on your feet, try working on your skills during training sessions. Attention integrates with calls to provide real-time feedback, helping sales reps develop the sales reflexes they need to lead better discussions.

4. Filler words make for poor transitions

Now, avoiding the use of filler phrases does not mean avoiding any and all forms of proper sentence transitions, as this could make you sound robotic and stiff. Transitions are important to connect various ideas together seamlessly. They help explain the logical relation between different parts of your pitch and enable the prospect to understand the bigger picture. Use transition words and phrases such as “because”, “so that”, “provided that”, “in order to” and “additionally” to carry the conversation along in a natural and professional way, and cut out unnecessary monosyllabic noises for good.

5. Fillers words may be an indication you are speaking too much

Are you guilty of rambling on calls? Don’t be afraid to let your prospect jump in if you feel your side of the conversation is dragging on for too long! Practice setting up places in the conversation where the prospect feels comfortable stepping in to ask a question. This is a good way of checking in with the customer and seeing whether you still have their attention. Every time you get the urge to mumble another filler word, stop and ask yourself whether it might be a good time to give the prospect a chance to get a word of their own in.

6. Filler words fail to persuade

As a sales rep, you should work on developing strong communication skills to persuade prospects to purchase your product. In order to convey the value of your company to clients, you will need to arm yourself with precise terms and clear formulations, not empty filler phrases. One way to work on your speech skills is to expand the breadth of your vocabulary. Having a wide range of vocabulary and expressions at your disposal will help you present complicated information with ease and feel more confident articulating your organization’s unique advantages. Another tip is to familiarize yourself with language from your company’s marketing materials and incorporate it into your conversations with clients to bring attention to your organization’s unique culture and core values. Finally, keep the purpose of your conversation in mind throughout the sales call to guide your use of language and moderate your tone accordingly. Credible and effective communicators know that linking various statistics, narratives, and claims back to the purpose of the call is the best way to convey a focused message and move forward in the sales process.

As you can see, using a disproportionate amount of verbal fillers on calls can make even the most talented sales reps sound unconvincing. Dizzying quantities of phrases such as “you know”, “um, like” and “literally” reflect poorly on your ability to communicate and can get in the way of building a relationship with the prospect. Attention helps sales reps work on their presentation skills and become more confident speakers in a matter of days. Learn more about how Attention uses AI technology to help you meet your sales goals today.