local media insider

How to hire a top telemarketer

Use these experiential questions to identify the best candidates

Alisa Cromer

Outbound sales is a different skill set than inbound sales, and turnover often leads companies to abandon  efforts.  One way to improve the hiring track record is to approach the interview process with technical finesse.

Pre-screening candidates on the phone is an ideal time to test for the quality of "phone presence" and articulateness, followed by a more extensive interview.

We asked Cheryl Phillips, President of Canadian telemarketing firm, CAPE Sales Development, Inc. to share their interview process, including a list behavioral questions that identify key characteristics of top outbound phone sales people.

First, here are the top qualities she looks for in a candidate for outbound phone sales:

1. Selling Skills

2. Goal Driven - Plans and prepares based on goals

3.  Positive Attitude

4.  Prospecting Skills - Has a "hunter mentality" and "loves" to prospect

5. Ability to handle rejection, a characteristic called resilience

6.  Customer focused; they are an effective listener and problem solver

7. Understanding of the sales process

To identify these skills, here is a sample list of behavioral questions:

1.Selling skills

• Tell us about your sales volume over the past two years. Has it increased and if so, to what do you attribute this increase?
• What have you done to influence this increase?
• Tell me how you developed your largest account.
• Describe a recent approach you took with a brand new prospect. What were the results, and what contributed to these results?

2.Goal driven

• What specific goals, including those related to your career, have you established for your life?
• Give me an example of an important goal that you had set in the past and describe to me your success in reaching this goal?

3.Positive attitude

• Describe a time on any job that you held, in which you were faced with problems, and or stresses that tested your coping skills.
• Tell me of a time when you used your positive attitude to your advantage.

4.Prospecting skills
• Give me an example of a time when you successfully obtained a customer through cold calling and prospecting. How did you approach the customer? And what made the call successful?

5.Ability to handle rejection

•  All jobs have frustrations; can you describe some examples of your job which frustrate you? And how did you handle it?
• Can you provide me with two situations in which you did not succeed and why?
• Tell me about a time you worked hard for a sale but didn't get it in the end, how did you handle the situation?
• Give an example of when you had to overcome strong resistance from a customer.

6.Customer focused

• Describe a situation with a client or prospect where you made a mistake. How did you handle the error?
• Think of a customer relationship you have maintained for multiple years. Please tell me how you have approached maintaining that relationship.
• Can you tell me a time when you dealt with a difficult person? How did you handle it and what happened?

7.Understanding of the sales process
• Why do you think it is important to have a sales process in mind?
• In many instances, it is important that you know where you are in the sales process. Please tell me a time, when your understanding of the sales steps, helped you in a call?

Finally, Phillips advocates creating a career path for the phone sales people in the company, removing impediments to sales - such as outlawing high dollar phone transactions - and two weeks of training with significant amounts of role-playing, to ensure your investment.

Many thanks to Cheryl Phillips, President of CAPE Sales Development, Inc. for sharing these tips with us. Cape provides outsourced telemarketing for the media industry and can be reached at cphillips@capesalesdev.com. 

Alisa Cromer

The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and  MediaExecsTech,  developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine,  to showcases perspectives from around the  world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.

telemarketers, telesales, recruiting, interviewing