As human beings, we’re all guilty of using filler words.

Phrases like “umm” and “err” that add little value to a conversation other than to “fill in” time. We may use them when we are deliberating something, lack vocabulary, don’t how to respond, because we are nervous, or purely out of habit.

Most people won’t be conscious of how much unnecessary vernacular exists in their everyday life; the meaningless phrases often just slip out. While we may not give it much thought, research shows that overusing filler words can influence others’ perceptions of us, which is especially relevant when you work in sales.

This blog explores common filler words used by salespeople, their impact on a sales conversation, and how to overcome them so that you can win more deals.

Common filler words

In B2B sales, “so” is the most used filler word. Other common phrases include: “like”, “you know?”, “right”, “basically” and “kind of”, among many others. Filler words can also appear in conversation when you are acknowledging something a customer is saying, such as “perfect” or “brilliant.”

That’s not to say that these words can never be used, but if they are eating up a disproportionate amount of the time you are spending on calls with prospects, it may be time to grow out of the habit. Here’s why:

1) Filler words weaken your credibility

Filler words can make it seem like you are unprepared, especially if you use them frequently. For example, if a prospective customer asks you a question and you start the response with “um” or “so”, it sounds like you are stalling because you don’t know the answer.

In order to close a deal, you need to approach a prospect with confidence, even if that’s not how you feel inside. They need to see that you are trustworthy, self-assured and knowledgeable about their industry. If you’re constantly saying “um”, “so” and “basically”, you won’t come across as having any of those characteristics.

To combat this, thoroughly research your prospect, their business, industry trends and common pain points occurring in the sector. Show them that you know their product/service inside and out, and why your solution would be a great fit. By doing this, you will feel prepared, confident, and ready for most scenarios.

2) Filler words waste time

Filler words add little value to a conversation. Using them with family and friends in everyday interactions is fine, but when you reach out to a prospect, you have a limited window of time to:

  • introduce your services
  • ask them open-ended questions
  • identify their challenges/pain points
  • offer your services/solutions

The last thing you want to do is take up precious minutes that could be spent capturing invaluable discovery information that will ultimately help you close the sale. Don’t just talk for the sake of talking; keep your questions and responses direct and succinct, and if in doubt, ask yourself whether they add value to the conversation and help you move towards securing a sales opportunity. If filler words have become your crutch, focus on perfecting your pitch before you go on calls.

3) Filler words disrupt your pace

Do you find yourself using filler words when you lose your train of thought? Take a moment to breathe and think about what you want to say – silence is not your enemy.

Silence is always better than rambling, especially if a prospect has asked you a question you don’t know the answer to. To help your calls go smoothly, keep your sentences to the point and don’t be afraid to pause. The purpose of a discovery call is to gather as much information as possible from the interaction, so the prospect should be talking a lot more than you. Ask questions. One of our key sales mantras at durhamlane is: be interested to be interesting.

4) Filler words = poor communication

A sales person’s job is to understand the challenges their customers face, and to show them the value of their products or services and how this would help resolve their pain.

With this in mind, having excellent communication skills is paramount. Using lots of filler words conveys the opposite. If you want a prospect to see value in your solutions, you’ll need to research their company and see whether what you are offering is the right fit. Familiarise yourself with their common challenges, products or services, any language or acronyms they use, as well as company values.


It goes without saying that the aim of engaging a prospect is to successfully pitch and sell your product or service. However, prospecting calls are equally as important for building trust, which is an integral part of developing long-lasting relationships in the B2B world. Swap out the filler words for short, concise responses and contemplative silence.

We train our sales people to adopt our unique ‘Selling at a Higher Level’ methodology, making them experts in sales development and communication, with minimal filler words.

Let’s talk

We’re always open to hearing from ambitious organisations that are looking to scale but are unsure how. Get in touch to see how we can help overcome your sales challenges.