This has nothing to do with humanism or anything else. I wrote this for my writing portfolio and felt like sharing.
I spent three months working in a call center. That may not sound like very long, but trust me it felt like a lifetime. In the time I was there I learned a few things everyone should know about working in telemarketing.
1) None of your bosses will admit you’re a telemarketer
There’s a good chance they’ll directly say “this is not a telemarketing job.” If they do admit it’s telemarketing they’ll likely launch into a spiel about how it’s different than regular cold calling and that what you’re selling is a valuable service people want to hear about.
It’s your boss’s job to convince you that you’re not bothering people. They want you to make those calls with confidence, and if that means lying and manipulating you into thinking you’re not bothering people by calling people and telling them they can trade in their vehicle for super low rates, well so be it.
2) There’s always one guy who is stoked about being a telemarketer
Never fails. You’ll definitely hear him; his boisterous voice will ring out through the cubicles so it’s impossible not to. You’ll listen to him so much that you’ll learn his pitch method and all the bizarre expressions he uses to land those clients:
“I know buying a new car is tough. It’s like taking a slingshot and trying to shoot a pebble into a trash can forty feet away with the wind blowing against you.”
If you sit next to him, he will undoubtedly try to start a competition with you. You’ll find your lackluster pitches pale in comparison with his as you struggle to make your two per hour quota while he sits pretty with twenty sales made in his five-hour shift.
At the end of the day you’ll wonder what he wanted to be when he was growing up, and if he ever played with slingshots and trashcans.
3) The only people you talk to are people desperate enough to talk to a telemarketer
Think about it. How many people do you actually know who answer those calls when they come up? Most people just let it ring or immediately hang up, and yet telemarketers still have jobs which means somebody is taking those calls.
There are a certain group of people who answer those calls. They are either extremely lonely and want to talk to someone, extremely angry and want to yell at someone, or extremely stupid and actually believe that whatever you’re selling might be something they want.
You’ll know if you’re going to make a sale about one minute into the call. If they sound confused and amenable to your questions they’ll probably buy just because they don’t know what else to do. Your pitch is designed to take advantage of these people.
4) You’re going to get yelled at every day
Maybe you’re going into that job thinking, “I know how annoying telemarketers can be. I’ll just avoid saying the stuff that would make me angry.”
Wrong. If you’re not getting screamed at by prospects, that means you’re not doing the pitches right and your boss is going to scream at you. You have to make a pitch every call. If they say “no” you have to make the pitch again. There’s a good chance you’ll be given a list of responses to use for common rejections.
It’s your job to be annoying. The company gets paid for every call agents make, and if you’re not making the pitch on every call that means the client is wasting their money. It doesn’t matter if the prospect just got out of the doctor’s office and found out they have cancer, you have to make that pitch, and then you have to overcome their objection. If you don’t, your boss is going to chew you out, and I am speaking from personal experience on that one.
5) The higher you go, the worse your job gets
When you start your job the bosses will softball you in with the easiest pitches. You’ll be given scripts that prospects will be more amenable to hearing. If you succeed there, that means you’ve got charisma, and charisma means you’re good at dealing with jerks—at least you’d better be, because that’s what you’re about to do.
Every time you get moved up you’ll be rewarded for doing such a good job by getting harder work without a pay increase. Sure, your commission rates may be higher, but because these pitches are tougher to sell you’re going to be making fewer sales so you won’t be seeing much of a difference in that paycheck.
God forbid you move into a supervisory position. At that point you’re held accountable for every mistake anyone under you makes. Thought it was bad when you neglected to pitch a prospect? Imagine being blamed when the twenty people you supervise make the same mistake.
The truth is there’s no winning in telemarketing for anybody. The prospects don’t want to hear it, the callers don’t want to do it, and the supervisors have to give up their principles and tell the same lies to their employees that they were told when they started.
The saddest part? The system works. These places are making millions of calls every day, and when you work with odds like that you’re bound to meet your quota. Telemarketing is a cockroach that can survive any economic holocaust.