7 Ways to Stop Using Umm in Sales Conversations

Filler words hurt! Tips to stop yourself from using “ummm” in sales calls.
Lina Eroh
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One of the greatest benefits of TalkIQ is that we’re able to analyze the meat of your sales conversations–the words you and your client say to each other. We call this process Conversation Science™ and we’ve been amazed by how our customers have used this data to change everything from objection handling to winning competitive deals. But while finding trends takes time, there are some things we can show your after just a few days of data–things like filler words.

In a recent analysis of customers’ sales conversations, we discovered that 43% of all calls had at least three instances of “umm,” “uh,” or another filler word.

Are you surprised?

Uh… probably not.

We often use filler words in every day speech when we’re in the process of gathering our thoughts, but using them excessively in a sales call can be dangerous. Why?

Filler words signify you’re in trouble and make you sound less confident by suggesting you don’t know what to say next

Filler words disrupt the flow of the conversation and can stop you from hearing what the other person wants to say

Filler words are distracting, especially if the other person realizes you’re overusing them, which is more likely to happen if they’re already not engaged

We use filler words because our brain runs faster than our mouths can talk. We want to fill uncomfortable silence, so we say whatever comes to mind before it’s fully formulated. But silence isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when you’ve given your prospect something to think about. And thinking before you speak is also not bad, especially when you’re answering a tough question.

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That’s why it’s important to decrease your use of filler words. Lucky for you, once you’re aware of filler words, there are easy ways to stop yourself from using them in excess.

You can take the following steps to decrease the frequency of filler words in your conversations:

Listen. Make a recording of a conversation and give yourself a tick mark for every filler word used. If you notice more than one a minute, you have a problem. (If you use TalkIQ, you can also check out a transcript of any sales calls, which will automatically track your filler word usage.)

Breathe. Remove your hands from your pockets, relax your shoulders, and take a deep breath. Doing all this should help you relax when you have a tough question.

Pause. It’s okay to think before answering a question as it gives you time to formulate a good answer. Silence isn’t bad in moderation.

Slow down. Let your mouth catch up to your brain. Once it does, you’ll use less filler words because you’ll be more sure of what you’re saying next.

Keep sentences short. You’ll be less like to umm and uh if you keep your lines focused.

Prepare. Practicing your pitch and being confident in handling objections is the best way to decrease filler words in conversations.

Tell a story. The more engaging your content, the less likely the listener hears filler words. Plus, the better you become at telling a story, the more likely you’ll close the deal.

With a little bit of practice, you’ll decrease the amount of filler words you use in no time! Better yet, if you’re an TalkIQ customer, we’ll actually analyze your conversations in real-time and let you know if you’re overusing filler words. After all, wouldn’t it be great to close more deals simply by getting rid of umm?