10 Great Tips on Hiring the Perfect Tele-Sales Rep

Are you concerned about the turnover rate of your tele-sales reps?  Is it higher than you’d like? Are you frustrated with the time, effort and cost involved with turnover?

Maybe the problem is your selection and recruitment process. Telephone selling can be extremely tough and quite frankly the majority of candidates you interview won’t have the right stuff to be successful.  Surprisingly, many companies do NOT have a selection process geared to finding candidates who can sell over the telephone.

The real trick is to either identify good candidates or weed out the bad during the selection process and save yourself the hassle and headache-not to mention the cost- down the line. Here are 10 great tips that can help you find the perfect tele-sales rep or at least, reduce the odds of hiring a dud.

Tip #1: Review and/or create an accurate job description.

I am forever staggered by the number of companies who do not have a job description for their tele-sales reps or if they do, it’s lame and inaccurate. If you cannot clearly and concisely define the responsibilities, tasks and activities of your tele-sales reps you’ve got a problem.

A job description does two things for you. First, it forces YOU to think about what the job entails and that helps you build a profile (see below). Second, you can use the job description as tool to help candidates qualify or disqualify themselves. Be thorough, be detailed, be honest.

Tip #2: Build a job profile

This is simple but critical step is often ignored. Take a few moments and think about your products or services, your target market, pricing strategy, sales cycle and the nature of your sale (transactional, complex?). Think of your newly renovated job description.

How ask yourself: Ideally, what kind of person do I need to do the job? Is your sale so simple that you can hire a student fresh out of college or university or do you need someone with more sales maturity and savvy? Do you want someone who sounds older and more ‘established’ because your target market is a C-Level executive or do you need someone who sounds youthful and enthusiastic because they are calling mid level managers, purchasers etc.? Profiling gives you focus and perspective and makes the rest of the hiring process simpler. It helps you write your job ad and it helps you with your interview questions.

Tip #3: Be candid in your recruitment ad

I could write pages on building a job ad but for the moment let’s focus on one important element: tell them that the job is telephone based. Please.  By all means, give the tele-sales position an attractive title like “business development rep” or “marketing consultant” or whatever you like. But make certain that somewhere you state “uses the telephone as the primary means of initiating contact with customers/prospects.” Misleading a candidate achieves nothing in the long run except headaches, frustration and discouragement.

Tip #4: Cull the resumes against your profile

Most companies and most tele-sales managers have their own methods for reviewing and culling resumes: past sales experience, telephone selling experience, education, number of jobs, longevity at each job, spelling etc.  These are all fine but add one more step:  scan the resumes you receive and if possible, compare it to the profile you have created.

Tip #5: Conduct a 2 minute interview

Here’s a really big tip that can save you a ton of time and effort.  Once you have a list of candidates, call them and conduct a brief 1-2 minute interview. Your one and only objective on this call is to evaluate their voice.  Simply say, “Tell me about yourself.” Then stop and listen. Telephone selling is an auditory based medium so evaluate the sound of their voice, their grammar, diction, pace, inflection, everything. If they stumble and bumble, slur their words, and cannot string four words together then it’s not a match. End of story, end of candidate.

Tip #6: Have the reps call you for a longer interview

Assuming you like what you hear, arrange to have the rep call you back at a specific date and time. Always choose an odd times like 10:15 or 1:20 or 3:40.  Why? You want to see if the rep listened to your instructions and you want to see if they call at the specified time. You’ll be surprised at how many call 10 or 15 or 20 minutes late. Not a great beginning, is it?

There are three objectives at this stage. First, did they indeed call on time?  If they cannot effectively follow up on something that impacts their career and their life, you can bet they won’t follow up on your clients and prospects. Second, continue to evaluate their voice. This is a longer interview. Can they maintain an engaging tone; are they consistent? Finally, go through their resume as you normally would. Ask whatever questions you need to qualify them or get more comfortable.

Tip #7: Have the rep call you for an appointment

If the candidate meets your requirements tell them that you need to call some more candidates and that you want them to call back later that day to set up a face to face appointment.   Give them an odd time once again. (In effect, retest them regarding listening and follow up).  But what you’re really doing at this stage is testing their perseverance and patience. Isn’t that what tele-sales is all about?

Tip #8: Conduct a Face to Face interview

Assuming the candidate calls on time, simply set up a convenient date for a face to face meeting.  Do whatever you normally do during an interview.  But at this stage you are probably 90% sure this is a good candidate. The face to face interview is simply to give you additional peace of mind and to do one more thing (see the next tip.)

Tip #9: Let them spend an hour or two with one of your reps

After the interview is completed have the candidate spend some time with one of your better reps. Have the rep show  her around. And then have the candidate sit with the rep and monitor calls. Let him see and hear the job in all its glory and splendor. If it scares him away, fine, you’ve dodged a turnover bullet.

Tip #10: Present your offer and provide full disclosure

Last tip: present your job offer after the visit with the rep. Make it formal on paper to avoid any confusion and misunderstanding. Make sure to tell them about your compensation package etc.  But do two more things. First, give them the job description. Let them read it so they understand the job from stem to stern.

And second be sure to tell them precisely what you expect in terms of dials, connects, presentations and dollars. This includes the training phase and then when they hit the phones full time.  Don’t hide anything back.  Again, if you scare them away, so be it.


This process takes considerably less time than you would think because the phone is far quicker and more efficient. In fact, it takes less time than face to face interviews. But the real point is, it is a selection process that seeks to identify candidates who can cut it in the world of telephone selling.  You’ll reduce turnover and get better sales results by employing these tips. Give them a try.

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