call prospective customers to try to sell them goods or likes and dislikes about certain products. They may ask if
services such as types of insurance or credit cards. customers were satisfied with a product they had or-
Telemarketing employees of large firms or corporations dered. They may gather demographic information for
may handle both inbound and outbound calls but those government agencies. Some telemarketers canvass voters
working for telemarketing agencies usually do one or the for political candidates. They may work for a charity
other exclusively. organization in a fund-raising campaign. They may sell
season tickets for a symphony orchestra.
Work Performed Due to federal, state, local laws, business codes and
Most inbound telemarketing consists of order process- regulations, telemarketers must properly identify themselves.
ing and customer service. Normally customers speak with All outbound calls must properly disclose, in a clear manner,
an inbound representative when calling an 800-number. the identity of the seller. They must explain the purpose of
They may want to place an order for goods they saw on a the call is to sell goods or services. They must present the
home shopping television network, in a televised advertise- nature of the goods or services being offered, and in the
ment, in a catalog, or advertised in a magazine. They may case of a prize promotion, that no purchase is necessary to
want to make airline or hotel reservations, buy tickets for a win. It is important that telemarketers are clear and concise
concert or sports event, answer a classified ad, or ask for so that customers understand the reason for a call.
more information about products or services.
Telemarketers taking inbound calls and 800-number Working Conditions
calls take down the caller’s name and address, and infor- The work environment for telemarketers can range
mation on the item such as catalog number, size, quantity, from an office with four or five telemarketers to a large
and other details. If the operation is automated, they enter telemarketing center with hundreds of telemarketers
this information into a computer, which may already be working with toll-free telephone lines and computer
programmed to list choices and availability. They enter the terminals. Many of these centers have automatic call
caller’s credit card number, method of shipment, shipping distribution that evenly distributes incoming calls among
address, and other information. operators to insure prompt response.
At this point the transaction is complete. The The work is repetitious. Telemarketers can make and
telemarketers may transfer the order to shipping clerks or receive almost 100 calls a day and repeat the same
order fillers. Sometimes, however, telemarketers also message or answer the same questions over and over.
encourage customers to buy related items)a jacket to Telemarketers often get rejections ranging from a
match an order for pants, or an extension telephone along polite refusal to a slammed-down receiver. Most calls in
with a request for telephone service, for instance. This is telemarketing, in fact, do not result in sales. Some people
known as cross selling. find this kind of work discouraging. Turnover in this line of
With customer service calls telemarketers take incom- work is high. In cities where there are several
ing calls to answer questions, provide instructions, or telemarketing companies workers often move from one
explain products and their uses. For products that require company to the next over a period of time.
precise or technical expertise, they may collect information
about the problem and then hand off the information or the Hours and Earnings
call to a technical consultant. Telemarketing agencies hire telemarketers to work both
In outbound telemarketing, telephone salespeople make part and full time. Many telephone sales representatives
numerous daily calls to new and existing customers from a work part-time because of the long hours of sitting and the
provided list. The names of the people they call may be stress of rejections. Many work about 20 to 30 hours a
from a list of former customers, reply cards from maga- week. For this reason, telemarketing can be a good job for
zines, or a list bought from another company. Calls are persons interested in part-time work. Telemarketing is
targeted to people or companies thought likely to have a sometimes an employee’s second job. Since many
use for the product or service. telemarketing agencies need staff at unusual hours,
In most outbound calls telemarketers follow a scripted telemarketers can usually find work during the hours that
sales presentation when calling on customers. They present match their own lifestyles. Full-time jobs are available with
the features or benefits of the product and inform current companies that conduct in-house telemarketing operations.
and prospective customers of new or upgraded products They may work about 40 to 60 hours a week.
and current promotions. Telemarketers then must enter Work shifts vary with the kind of telemarketing.
prospective client information into a database, hand off Agencies and centers taking airline and hotel reservations,
sales leads to appropriate departments/personnel, distribute for instance, employ telemarketers twenty-four hours a
materials by mail or e-mail as needed, and answer custom- day, every day of the year. Telemarketers calling consum-
ers’ questions, concerns and requests. ers at home usually work evenings and weekends.
These outbound calls also serve other purposes. Customer service calls take place in normal business
Telemarketers sometimes conduct surveys to learn the hours. Telemarketers who make calls to other time zones
reasons behind the buying habits of consumers, and their may work earlier or later than the local business hours.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2004, phone scams and fraud. Many states require some kinds of
telemarketers earned an average of $23,490 a year. Earn- telemarketing centers to register each year with the state.
ings ranged from a high of more than $37,250 a year to a They forbid misleading statements or partial truths and
low of less than $14,490 a year. Wages vary depending on sales calls pretending to be surveys. Several states prohibit
geographic location, employer, and years of experience. random and sequential dialing. In 2003, the Federal Trade
The kind of telemarketing also affects pay rates. Commission started the Do Not Call Registry. The Registry
Part-time employees contacting consumer prospects earn lets people sign up their phone numbers so that telemar-
from the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour in most regions. keters cannot call them. To date, almost 60 million people
Telemarketers making sales presentations in outbound calls have registered their phone number.
earn higher pay. Pay scales for experienced telemarketers The Direct Marketing Association (DMA), which
making business calls are also higher. Most part and full-time represents about 5,200 member companies, has drafted
telemarketers earn a salary plus a bonus or a commission on ethical guidelines for telemarketers. It also offers an
the goods they sell or the sales leads they develop. A education foundation, numerous research tools, information
significant part of earnings may be in the form of commis- on governmental issues, and employment opportunities.
sions, which can vary considerably, depending on perfor- The American Teleservices Association (ATA) also
mance. Telemarketers who take inbound calls for direct promotes ethical telemarketing practices. ATA represents
marketing, catalog, or home shopping networks usually work the call centers, trainers, consultants, and equipment
for a straight hourly rate. Salary usually increases as suppliers that initiate and generate telephone, Internet, and
telemarketers advance. e-mail sales, service, and support. ATA offers information
regarding government affairs and industry research, as well
Education and Training as forums, advanced education and training opportunities,
Most telemarketing centers and agencies prefer persons and many other member benefits.
with at least a high school diploma. Useful high school
subjects include English, business, and computer science. Personal Qualifications
Agencies that serve clients with high-technology products Telemarketers should have a pleasant telephone voice
sometimes hire persons from that field and train them in that projects sincerity and confidence. They should be able
telephone skills. In order to obtain a full time position, to sense how people are reacting and how to keep them
persons must have a minimum of two years of college or interested. Telemarketers should have an alert mind, be
equal credit hours, technical training or hands on experience. able to work well with details, and have good computer and
Before making or receiving calls, telemarketers must data entry skills.
receive adequate training in professional telemarketing It is important for telemarketers to develop a relation-
skills and follow recognized procedures and practices for ship with the customers. Representatives should relate to
proper etiquette and courtesy. clients in order to make the conversation comfortable.
Telemarketers get a great deal of on-the-job training. Skilled telephone sales representatives can think
Instructors explain how the equipment works and discuss quickly and answer smoothly and tactfully. Excellent
the products or services and the companies the communication skills and a demonstrated ability to work
telemarketers will represent. They show the trainees how with difficult customers are a necessity. Detachment can
to use the scripts. Trainees learn to use their voice, to help telemarketers when they get refusals.
deliver a script, and to listen. They learn sales techniques Occupations can be adapted for workers with disabili-
and measures to calm angry customers. ties. Persons should contact their school or employment
Volunteer telemarketing is a good way to get experi- counselors, their state office of vocational rehabilitation, or
ence. The Public Broadcasting System conducts their state department of labor to explore fully their indi-
fund-raising campaigns several times a year. Volunteers vidual needs and requirements as well as the requirements
take the incoming calls. Political parties and candidates of the occupation.
often need volunteers to make telephone calls. Churches,
schools, and other nonprofit organizations also need Where Employed
volunteer telephone solicitors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about
410,360 telemarketers were employed throughout the United
Licensing, Certification, Unions and Professional States in the year 2004. Large agencies with several hundred
Societies telemarketers are in large cities near business headquarters
Telemarketers must be trained and aware of all and a large labor market. Big corporations often have their
applicable federal, state, and local laws; business codes; telemarketing centers in cities where salaries and operating
and regulations. The government bodies administering costs are low.
these laws include the Federal Communications Commission Firms that sell their goods through catalogs often have
(FCC), The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and federal their telemarketing centers near their headquarters.
and state attorneys general offices. These guidelines and Department store chains may have them in the cities and
laws are intended to protect consumers from unscrupulous towns where they have their stores.
Employment Outlook Direct Marketing Association, 1120 Avenue of the
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number Americas, New York, NY 10036-6700. Web site:
of jobs for telemarketers will decline though the year 2012. www.the-dma.org
The outlook depends on whether companies continue using
telephone calls to sell goods and services. Some direct selling Acknowledgments
has moved to the Internet and e-mail. Some selling takes Chronicle Guidance Publications appreciates the
place by postal mail. The outlook also depends on whether cooperation of the following who reviewed the information
enough people answer the phone when marketers call. Many in this brief.
people screen calls. Others ask telemarketers to take them
off the call list. The national Do Not Call registry is also Phani Tej Adidam, Ph.D., Executive Education Professor
expected to affect sales made through telemarketing, which in of Business Administration, University of Nebraska at
turn will affect the number of jobs. Omaha, 60th & Dodge Streets, Omaha, NE 68182.
Most companies recruit through want ads in newspa-
pers. Job titles in these ads can vary. They may ask for
O*NETTM is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor,
telephone salespeople, telephone solicitors, service sales Employment and Training Administration.
representatives, telesales representatives, inside salesper-
sons, or telemarketers. Some ads may specify a field, such H.O.C. codes adapted and reproduced by special permission of the
as telemarketers for newspaper service. publisher, Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc., Odessa, FL
Job seekers should check with agencies that place 33556, from the Dictionary of Holland Occupational Codes-Third
part-time or temporary workers. Job seekers should also Edition, by Gary D. Gottfredson, Ph.D., and John L. Holland, Ph.D.
Copyright 1982, 1989, 1996 by PAR, Inc.
register with the state employment office. Those interested
in working in in-house centers should write, call, or e-mail
the personnel offices of the companies that have them.
People who have done volunteer telephone calling, sales, or
promotional work should list these activities on applications Briefs Related to This Title
and resumes. Advertising Agency Workers. Brief 113.
Job seekers should be aware that some firms interview
Agricultural Supply Sales Representatives.
applicants over the telephone. Employers do this to judge the
applicant’s telephone voice, confidence, and assertiveness.
Automobile Salespersons. Brief 133.
Advancement Automotive Parts Salespersons. Brief 307.
Large companies tend to promote telemarketing staff Marketing Researchers. Brief 254.
rather than hire outsiders. The growing need for middle man- Product Demonstrators. Brief 299.
agers who serve as training managers or operations managers Public Opinion Researchers. Brief 583.
will open opportunities for advancement. These managers Radio and Television Time Salespersons.
hire, train, and motivate new workers. They prepare reports, Brief 309.
schedule workers, make projections, and coordinate opera- Retail Salespersons. Brief 15.
tions. Writing telemarketing scripts is another possibility. Sales Agents, Business Services. Brief 228.
Promotions are also possible to positions as call center Sales Agents, Insurance. Brief 218.
managers, service managers, sales directors, and account Securities Sales Representatives. Brief 433.
executives. Advancement to higher management almost
always requires a college degree in business administration, For a complete list of brief and reprint titles
marketing, or a related discipline. with current pricing information call:
In telemarketing agencies, telemarketers may become
assistant managers and then managers. Some of these Chronicle Guidance Publications, Inc.
managers get a commission on the net sales of the agency. 66 Aurora Street
Their earnings can be very high. Moravia, New York 13118-3569
Phone 1 800 622-7284 FAX (315) 497-3359
For Further Research Visit our Web Site at
American Teleservices Association, 3815 River www.ChronicleGuidance.com
Crossing Parkway, Suite 20, Indianapolis, IN 46240. Web
Occupations discussed or illustrated should be considered valid for all persons regardless of disabilities, age, sex, or race.