The “Um” Clap

In last week’s video sales tip (archived at, I had some fun with the, um, like, way some young salespeople speak. As a sales coach, I hear it on a daily basis and it runs right up my spine. Generally, I find a way to bring it to their attention in a manner that does not offend.

A client of mine took a different approach.

She and her husband noted that their daughter used, “Um” a lot and decided to do something about it. Subtly.

Every time she said, “Um,” they clapped.

Just once.

No explanation.

They just clapped.

At first, their daughter failed to notice. When she finally did take heed and ask about it, they said nothing. But each time she “Ummed,” it was met with a single clap done in unison. Soon, the rest of the family joined in.

Eventually, she caught on. She was not pleased about it, but she got the message and became conscious of how she sounded to others.

Right or wrong, we are judged based on the way we speak, the words we use and, um, the maturity we present. The first time I quoted an article that I had read in The Wall Street Journal, it shocked me. There I was, little Billy Farquharson, acting and sounding like a grown-up. Who knew?

Are you aware of the image that you portray via the spoken word? Almost all of the cell phones that are in use today have a recording feature. The next time you make an office call, record it, and then play it back. If it sounds strange to you, imagine how it sounds to the customer.

Check out Bill’s Tuesday eWorkshop Programs at or call Bill at (781) 934-7036.

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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