THE JOB AND WHAT’S INVOLVED
Many different organisations employ telesales operators to make contact with people via the telephone. These include financial services, media advertisers, communication providers, home improvement retailers and business equipment suppliers. Their job is to try and persuade potential customers to buy their goods or services.
Also referred to as indoor sales people in the logistics industry, marketing sales executives or outbound service teams, telesales operators may work in a large call centre operation or in a small office team.
Their working day is spent on the phone making outgoing calls. Using carefully targeted information, a telesales operator’s job is to build relationships with customers and gain their trust. While scripts may be used to ensure a positive and consistent message is delivered, telesales operators need strong interpersonal and customer service skills to help build a rapport and recognise potential sales opportunities.
During each phone call, typical activities include:
Describing the product benefits and special offers.
Giving advice about how these may benefit customers personally.
Persuading customers to accept a trial period or a visit from a sales representative.
Gathering and documenting information about the customer.
Entering notes into a computer, including dates for follow up calls.
Taking an order, and arranging for delivery of goods and bills to be sent.
Telesales operators may also conduct market research or satisfaction surveys after a sale has been completed or a complaint has been made.
The work is fast paced and intense. At the end of each conversation, predictive diallers usually connect the telesales operator to the next customer. These are systems that ensure that telesales operators no longer waste time dialling numbers and speed up contacts to potential customers. Telesales operators are usually set targets for the number of calls made or sales achieved within a set period. These targets are frequently linked to commission earnings. Digital displays in call centre environments are used to track the number of successful calls to motivate employees.
Many of the businesses that employ telesales operators remain open at weekends and in the evenings. This leads to extremely variable working hours and shift patterns. Full-time staff usually work 37 hours a week. There may be opportunities to work weekends, evenings or daytime hours only, or a mixture of all of these. Part-time opportunities are also widely available.
Telesales operators usually work in an office, although some, particularly charity workers, may work from home. Call centre-based telesales operators usually work in well-lit, large open plan areas, seated for most of the day at a computer workstation. Headsets are worn, allowing the telesales operators to keep their hands free to update computer records and access information from databases.
Basic starting salaries for telesales operators are around £10,550 to £12,000 a year. The commission on target earnings can increase basic salaries considerably.
GETTING STARTED WITH THIS CAREER CHOICE
Approximately 57,000 people in the UK are employed as telesales operators. The number of pure telesales jobs has decreased slightly in recent years. This shift may partly be due to contact centre operators undertaking more varied roles, including sales, service and research. Despite the outsourcing of call centre operations to overseas facilities, the trend among many companies is to resume these operations back in the UK. Finance and retail companies and distribution centres are the main employers of telesales operators, although employers cover the full spectrum of industries, including telecommunications, travel and tourism, transport logistics and utility suppliers.
There are job opportunities for telesales operators throughout the UK, but most are employed in the North West, Scotland, Yorkshire and Humberside, the South East and North East. Large contact centres can be found in towns, cities and on business parks. Many jobs also exist within smaller firms throughout the country. South-east England has the largest number of telesales operators.
Vacancies are usually advertised on company websites, in the local press and through recruitment agencies.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
There are no set entry requirements. Employers often regard sales techniques and the right personality as more important that academic ability. Some employers may ask for some GCSE/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent.
Good hearing and clear speech are important. Candidates may have to undertake practical telephone and keyboard tests as part of the recruitment process. Any customer service experience is also an advantage. Apprenticeships may be offered by some of the larger contact centres.