telemarketing sales tactics

Telemarketer sales tactics you should know (by an ex-telemarketer)

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When I was 17-18, I worked as a telemarketer for about 3 months. For an outsourcing company, on behalf of a major insurance provider. I can’t remember the name of the insurance company, or even the product name now. That’s weird, because day-in, day-out, I repeated the same script in hundreds of cold calls.

I earned at least RM3000 per month in those 3 months. This was the point in my life when I knew I could do sales.

Here are some telemarketer sales tactics

Telemarketer sales tactic #1: I followed a damn awesome script

You guys should have seen the script they gave me – it was a work of art.

It starts off jovial, friendly. Then it addresses the problem (don’t waste money by paying for non-investment linked insurance, because you’ll never get it back), and POW, the solution (25-years investment-linked insurance that promised some returns back on your money).

Whatever excuse the customer might have, there’s an answer to it.

No time to talk? No problem, when’s a good time for me to call you back?

Already have insurance? There’s no such thing as being over-insured, and you’ll get to claim more if anything happens.

That’s expensive! But you’ll get your money back after 25 years, do you really want to opt for insurance without money back?

I don’t need it. Ah, but does anyone else in your family need it?

Where did you get my number? The numbers were special customers selected from [bank name].

I repeat. All excuses you can give, we have an answer for it.

In fact, the only reasons we were allowed to cross off a customer’s name is (1)  when the number is out of service, or (2) when the customer explicitly refused to purchase the product and request to never call you back.

Anything else gets re-scheduled through an automatic software.

Tips for you:

  • If you receive cold calls, the first 10 seconds is important. They will ask if it’s OK to take 5 minutes of your time. It’s never 5 minutes. 
  • The products aren’t necessarily bad. It’s just another way to sell a product to the public. So if you are shopping for that product (insurance, membership, whatever), you can still hear them out.
  • If you are not interested, then say no clearly. This is important. You might want to be all polite and say stuff like, ‘not right now’, or ‘I already have it’, or ‘I don’t need it’, hoping they might get the hint and go away. No dice. This might sound rude, but ‘No, I am not interested to buy, thank you for your time, please don’t call me again’ works best.

Telemarketer sales tactic #2: I was instructed to close the sales right then

The thing about telemarketing is that you only have your voice to convince people. No facial expressions, no other social cues.

So when you manage to hook people in through your voice, you want them to stay enchanted. You don’t want anything to break the spell.

I was told to complete the sales right on the phone, no interruptions. Everything. From filling up the forms (I asked, and was provided, so many credit card numbers and their CVCs!), to asking the customer to fax the signed forms back to us.

We tried, as much as possible, to avoid ‘let me talk to my spouse, contact me again tomorrow’ and its variations. When that happens, we asked for the spouses’ phone numbers and talked to them. We don’t like delays. If a potential sale takes more than a few days, it’s probably a gone case.

We used the fake ‘limited time offer’ tactic, the ‘only selected customers get this chance’ tactic, and everything in between. Basically, we don’t want you to have time to do your own research.

Advice for you:

  • Current telemarketing agencies will hate me for this, gosh, but here goes: do your product research. The product might be good, but compare first. For this reason, I get telemarketers to email me the product brochures. If they give some excuse like its not ready (probably doesn’t exist), or it’s not available for the public eye, the product is a major no for me.
  • Buying a product simply because ‘the nice lady spent 30 minutes explaining it to me’ is a thing. You wouldn’t believe how many people get guilted into paying hundreds of ringgit every month for 25 years this way. No! Never feel guilty for this. It’s a huge financial commitment!
  • The telemarketer is the friendliest person you know. Do not laugh along with him/her. Do not even like them. It builds rapport, and once rapport is built, selling insurance is like asking a friend to make you a personal favour.

Telemarketer sales tactic #3: I smiled a lot

For some reason – and I didn’t know this until it worked – smiles travel across the phone. Even fake smiles.

…there’s no advice for you on this point. Most of the time, when I can ‘hear’ a smile back, I know I can get a potential sale out of it.

Just be aware of it.


I just want to be clear on something. I have the highest respect for sales agents. You guys should too.

For every sale I closed, I was rejected anywhere between 20-100 times. It takes a thick skin and pure survival mode to make it in this industry.

Every encounter you have with a sales agent, you should treat them with respect. Some people were so rude, they reduced me to tears (this happened twice in 3 months, I believe).

Some people shouted expletives at me. Some people made sexual, suggestive remarks. One of my colleagues had the bad fortune to talk to a man who masturbated during the conversation. Every sales agent has a ‘worst day ever’ story.

So, coming from a former telemarketer, here’s how I would like to be treated if the customer wasn’t interested in the product.

  • Within first 5 minutes of listening to the sales pitch – say sorry, and thank you for calling, but you are not interested in the product and/or will not buy over the phone – this would save me time
  • After full-blown explanation – say sorry, thank you for calling, but the product is not what you’re looking for and you are not interested in buying – allows me to take your name off the list instead of having to call you again.
  • Don’t lead me on – sometimes customers would just ask me to call them back many times, because they were too ‘polite’ to say no. Some of them would just ignore subsequent phone calls. I still have to make those calls. Just tell me to stop calling (nicely), and I will.
  • Don’t get angry at me because I called you. This is impersonal. I had nothing against you. I was not trying to ruin your life. Your number popped up and the system made the call. That’s it.

Protip: If you are interested in a product, please buy from the sales agent who worked the hardest to serve you. It’s frustrating for sales agents when you end up buying the same product from someone else, because they don’t get the commission.

Lastly, if you were a former customer, know this: there was a (brief) moment where my heart was full of love for you. You were the one who broke the chain of rejections. Thank you.

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  1. This was a good read.

    I used to have a cold-calling job for 2 years but absolutely hated it because I wasn’t patient enough.
    I agree with the “smiling” tip. I also felt different when I was speaking with a smile; kind of more optimistic and able to take their curveballs as well.

    1. Hi S Tan,

      It was hard for sure, but I tell myself that no job is perfect, at least it pays, and also.. it builds character. The things we tell ourselves to make it another day 🙂 Glad to be out of it and I’m sure you as well

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