Telemarketing Recruitment

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How do we set up a telesales team quickly and efficiently?

Individual staff can make or break a telemarketing campaign. A suitable, well trained and motivated telemarketing operative can achieve productivity in excess of 1,000% of that of an operative who has just been well trained. Therefore the recruitment of a telemarketing team should be performed with great care and suitable staff members identified, retained and motivated over time.

Setting up a new team quickly is almost impossible. However, there are some guidelines that can make the process as quick and efficient as possible:

  • Identify well performing staff. This can be done by analysing performance metrics such as the number of successful calls relative to unsuccessful ones, the rate of successful calls per hour and the amount of time spent talking to customers relative to wrap-up.
  • Attempt to identify why well performing staff achieve most. Typically, the reasons include phone demeanour, clarity of speech, regional accent relative to geographic area called and the ability to weed out failed calls rapidly.
  • Use high achieving staff to train others. Get your staff to listen to successful calls and point out the good and bad points. Persuade them to emulate the same features.
  • Don’t be afraid to lose underperforming staff. If a staff member does not improve in the first day then they are unlikely ever to do so. Telemarketing staff turnover is higher than for most disciplines for this reason.
  • Retain successful staff.  Successful staff should be regularly praised. Consider rewarding staff with bonuses or commission for achieving sales targets. Human nature means that managers concentrate on the worst staff, which regularly means that the successful ones feel underappreciated and leave.

Keeping these guidelines in mind could lead to a good telemarketing team being formed in as little as three months.

The first hurdle with any telemarketing team is identifying the successful employees. The BlackBIT eDialler system has been designed to make this process easy.

How do we recruit good telesales staff?

Whilst training can improve the performance of telemarketing staff, innate personality characteristics contribute up to 30% of performance. This means that the metrics used to compare potential candidates need to be more specific than for most other disciplines.

Staff recruitment companies will always attempt to put emphasis on the matching characteristics of the staff they suggest, sometimes to the point of exaggeration, so always use their suggestions with care. Direct recruitment avoids this issue but often requires more time on the part of the employer.

However, there are some characteristics of a suitable candidate CV that can be identified:

  • Look for work experience in relevant telemarketing or telesales. The best candidates will have been retained by companies for six months or more in roles most similar to the role they are applying for. Identify whether your campaigns are mostly “top heavy” in that a large number of potential customers need to be contacted to achieve a single sale or “bottom heavy” in that a small number of customers need to be contacted several times to achieve a single sale. Generally candidates with similar experience will be the most suitable as their previous employer has retained them for a good reason.
  • Confidence sells. Research has shown that confident sounding telemarketers are more likely to achieve sales than less confident ones. Therefore look for hobbies and interests where public speaking is involved such as debating and acting.
  • Knowledge of the subject area. It goes without saying that if the product or service being sold requires a great deal of training to be able to answer the questions or concerns of the consumer, then prior experience in this area will greatly reduce the amount of training required to make staff productive.

Where can we get good telesales staff?

The two recruitment strategies open to employers are recruitment companies and direct recruitment.

Recruitment companies and head hunters are salespeople. Therefore it is common for the suitable characteristics of candidates to be emphasised over the unsuitable, or worse for the suitable characteristics to be exaggerated. This is especially true for “top heavy” telemarketing jobs where staff turnover is generally higher. Whilst this is unavoidable it is possible to build up a relationship with a small number of recruitment companies who will learn over time that it is not profitable to keep on sending unsuitable candidates. Don’t be afraid to send away a candidate after as little as half a day if they are wholly unsuitable and be as explicit as possible with the recruitment manager to help them identify where they are going wrong. If managed correctly you’ll find that the number of suggested candidates reduces over time whilst the number of suitable candidates increases.

Direct recruitment is generally 25%-35% cheaper. However, it involves more than twice the staff time to perform. Given that telemarketing staff turnover is higher than most other disciplines it is not recommended that this route is followed unless the level of industry specific knowledge required is such that the number of applicants that get past the CV stage will be fairly minimal.

Where can we find a good telesales team leader?

Once a good telemarketing team is established the greatest threat to continued efficiency is motivation. Telemarketing by its very nature involves a great deal of rejection and human nature means that this can wear down even the best candidates over time. Once they have lost their focus and are starting to feel de-motivated you will find their productivity can suffer by as much as 50%.

For this reason a good telemarketing team leader is an essential component of any telemarketing team. Our experience shows that the best team leaders are those who have the following characteristics:

  • Experience.  A team leader must have worked in a similar job themselves to understand fully the challenges and tricks of the trade. Employ a team leader who has a proven track record of success whilst working as a telemarketing phone operative, be it a glowing report from an ex-employer or a long period of employment in the same role.
  • Enthusiasm.  Maintaining motivation in the face of a bad morning of rejections is hard for even the most motivated of telemarketers. Therefore your team leaders must exude enthusiasm and be able to pick up the spirits of ailing team members.
  • Creativity and freedom.  Often the performance of a telemarketing team can be improved to the tune of up to 20% by the use of games or rewards. For example, staple a £10 note to a notice board for all to see and announce that the first team member to achieve 20 successful calls can collect it. However, the same “trick” rapidly loses efficacy. Therefore it is beneficial if your team leaders are creative enough to think of methods to encourage your staff. Moreover, it is important that they are given the freedom to use such methods within reason.
  • Workload.  Dependent on whether the telemarketing task is top or bottom heavy (see above), teams of 20 members are the maximum that can be handled by a single team leader. Increasing this number further will generally reduce team efficiency and place unacceptable stress on the team leader.

The two recruitment strategies open to employers are recruitment companies and direct recruitment (see earlier). Given the relatively small number of team leaders per team members, both recruitment strategies are acceptable in terms of time and money when recruiting team leaders. Using recruitment companies involves no commitment to accept any candidates suggested and is considerably easier so it is recommended that this route is followed first and direct recruitment used if no suitable candidates are suggested in the first month.

It is also worth looking out for the above qualities amongst your phone operatives as it is not uncommon for excellent team leaders to develop from within the team itself.

Where can we find a good telesales manager?

If your telemarketing team is small then the roles of telemarketing manager and team leader can be carried out by the same person (see above). If you have more than 20 team members then it is good practice to employ multiple team leaders and one telemarketing manager to liaise with the team leaders in order to maintain focus, performance and communicate any issues to higher management.

The challenges faced by telemarketing managers are the same as those faced by any other sales manager. For this reason, it is not essential that managers have experience manning the phones. Instead, our experience shows that the following characteristics are important:

  • Sales management experience.  Whilst it is not essential that potential telemarketing managers have spent time on the phones, it is essential that they have had management experience, preferably in the management of a sales team.
  • Mediation and impartiality.  Sales and telemarketing is one of the most competitive of disciplines. Therefore it is not uncommon for unhealthy competition to develop between teams, occasionally involving deviousness. It is therefore important that a potential telemarketing manager is able to defuse any arguments that might ensue. Whilst healthy competition should be encouraged as it can increase performance, unhealthy competition can foster a bad attitude amongst staff.

The same principles that apply to the recruitment of team leaders can be applied to the recruitment of telemarketing managers.