Hiring and training B-to-B telemarketers

Doing it right is the key to your telemarketing success

A critical component of your successful business-to-business telemarketing is finding and hiring the right people. You can’t put just anybody on the phone and expect to get good results.


Once you are clear on the goals of your telemarketing program, you need to consider the specific role that your telemarketers will play in your sales-lead-generation program. Then you’ll want to determine the skills and personality characteristics that are needed to fulfill that role and meet your overall telemarketing objectives. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will your telemarketers need to have a certain level of understanding about your industry, product or services?
  • Do you require that they are already familiar with software like Microsoft Office or the specific CRM software they will be using?
  • Should they already be experts, or can they be quickly trained or learn on the job?
  • What are the minimum candidate requirements for each skill/trait you need?
  • Do they need to be high-energy; goal-oriented; and, at times, impatient people? Or do they need to be more easygoing, methodical and patient?
  • Are you looking for specific levels of maturity or professionalism in your telemarketers?
  • Do they need to know how to solve, prevent and eliminate problems?

According to Workplace Today magazine, the top five qualities that make salespeople great are empathy, drive, service motivation, conscientiousness, and self-esteem or resilience.

Finding telemarketer-for-leads candidates

First, you need to attract the right pool of candidates. Obviously, well-written and targeted recruiting ads placed on one or more of the many online recruiting sites such as monster.com, jobs.com and careerbuilder.com and in your local newspaper’s classified section are a first step.

You can also list your job openings with college career services centers and senior citizen centers in your area. And you can inexpensively advertise your open positions on radio and cable TV or buy ads that run before the movie starts at your local movie theater.

And be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for service-oriented employees in restaurants, supermarkets, movie theaters, etc. Their friendly and articulate characteristics will often translate well over the phone.

I also recommend that you consider offering a referral fee to in-house staff if their recommendation leads to a new employee who proves successful through a three-month training and probation period.

One final note on your help-wanted ads: Avoid using words like “telemarketing” or “telemarketer” in your ads. Instead use terms like “Sales Support” or “Customer Service” to appeal to a wider group of candidates.

Here’s a better process for hiring business-to-business telemarketers

Rather than request resumes first, like your company probably does for other positions it is recruiting for, direct your telemarketing candidates to call a special phone number instead.

Make sure that number goes right to voice mail that explains a bit about your company and the job, then asks candidates to leave their names and phone numbers and to take a couple of minutes to tell you why they think they are the right people for the job.

By simply listening to how candidates sound on the phone and how well they sell themselves in the voice mail messages they leave, you’ll be able to make a first cut from the applicant pool.

Quickly eliminate those who don’t fit your needs

Set up a telephone appointment to further screen those who impress you with their voice mail messages.

Keep your ears open for people who ask questions-questions about your company, your industry and what is expected on the job. People who ask probing questions are usually the type of self-starting, focused staff member you will need to generate leads on the phone.

The best telephone marketers are not just following a sales script but are carrying on a conversation. People with exceptional listening and questioning skills are more successful than those who simply deliver a pitch.

Ask only the candidates who still impress you to e-mail you a r?sum? along with a cover note explaining why they still think they are the right person for the job. This gives you a chance to review their backgrounds and see whether they can write as well as they talk on the phone.

Set up final, in-person interviews with only your finalists.

Give them the tools to succeed: training

The best defense against frustrated or failed telephone marketing efforts is to invest in appropriate training. Training will give your new employees the skills they need to handle a variety of situations and give them confidence in their ability to succeed.

How much training is needed depends on the type of telemarketing they will be doing and their past experience.

Training basics include industry background information-a brief historical perspective and the roles your company and your competitors play in this history.

Next you need to discuss the specific product or service, giving them a clear understanding of not only the characteristics of and applications for your products or services but also the benefits potential buyers will get. Your telemarketers will need an understanding of the pricing structure and the entire selling process of which they are a part.

Spend some time teaching them how to most effectively use the various systems and software they’ll need on the job.

Also cover company policies, job responsibilities and performance expectations in the training sessions. Targeted goals for the number of calls, contacts and sales per day, week or month will help the telemarketers gauge their performance and budget their time accordingly.

The bottom line: hiring the right people and giving them the right training is one of the best ways to ensure the success of your business-to-business telemarketing programs.

Contact Mac for a Free Decision Maker Kit

M. H. "Mac" McIntosh is described by many as one of America's leading business-to-business sales and marketing consultants and marketing speakers. He is president of Mac McIntosh Incorporated, a marketing consulting firm specializing in helping companies get more high-quality sales leads and turn them into sales. More about Mac...

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