Recruiting sales development agents is challenging to begin with. Nobody ever dreamed of becoming a telemarketer when they were a child.

With unemployment in February 2020 at 4 percent, agent recruitment was bang-your-head-against-a-wall frustrating. With unemployment at 30 percent, people who would have considered telemarketing beneath them may be more amenable to trying it out.

That’s good news for anyone currently hiring for that role – but won’t help you much if you believe you can hire telemarketers the same way you would hire any other employee. As you create your sales development agent recruiting process, here are some key takeaways:

Use a job board

If Craigslist is popular in your city, use Craigslist. It’s inexpensive and uncomplicated, unlike other recruiting platforms that require ongoing spending or a complicated per click payment system. Craigslist posts your ad in one category on one day, in the order that people pay to post them. You can “bump up” or re-list your job every day if desired. Average cost per ad is under US $50.00.

Protect your time

To keep unemployment benefits, people must demonstrate they are looking for work. They do not have to show up for an interview, reply to your email, or take a job that’s offered to them. The system protects those who learn how to game it. In today’s climate, this could mean thousands of resumes, with only a tiny fraction of genuine interest.

Stop accepting resumes, and get an online application built on your website. Link any of your hiring ads to this application. Be specific in your recruiting ad about your application process – the application is mandatory and the only way you evaluate candidates. Provide no way for a job applicant to contact you outside of this application, do not engage with anyone who doesn’t fill out the application, and immediately disqualify any candidate that contacts you in any other way.

They can either follow instructions or they can’t. They either want a job badly enough to fill out an application, or they don’t. This step will eliminate 99 percent of your applicants immediately, resulting in you only needing to review a handful of applicants that you know are truly interested in getting a job.

Be clear and compliant in your recruiting ad

If you want to hire a remote 1099 agent, they must be able to do the job without receiving training from you and  already have the equipment and skills necessary. If you are hiring a full time outbound remote agent who will have to follow your processes and only be working for you – by most definitions, and especially the IRS’s definition, that’s an employee.

You can hire contractors, but you can’t demand they follow your process or any process. Hiring a part-time employee instead of a contractor makes far more sense if you’re not looking to add a full-time employee and the overhead that comes with that, and also protects you from misclassification.

Your recruiting ad should be very specific – what are you hiring for, what kind of employment (part time, full time, contract) how many hours a week, what is the base pay, what is the variable pay (bonus) if there is one, and what do they need to work for you from home? Be thorough: you don’t want to field applications from people who aren’t interested in the exact role you’re hiring for. List your hourly rate and on target earnings for the role in the ad. Screen out anyone who won’t work for the rate you can afford or wants full time hours if you’re only offering part time.

Make sure your candidate can actually work from home

We require everyone that works from home for us to have wired internet (VOIP phones sound terrible on a wireless network) and a private, quiet office. We request that the candidate create and send us a link to a short YouTube video of themselves sitting in their home office workspace, answering some specific questions. This eliminates applicants who don’t have suitable work from home environments and also screens out the candidates who don’t have reasonable internet/computer skills.

Keep an open mind

We personality profiled our best agents years back, looking for common traits that would allow us to target better hires. Turns out, there’s only one thing that predicts if someone will be a good telemarketer: they must want to work. That’s it.

Telemarketing is a process-driven role. Anyone who can follow a step-by-step process can be an amazing telemarketer. Their job history doesn’t really matter.

When you’re hiring for a remote role, culture fit becomes much less of a consideration. You’ll need someone who sounds good, shows up for work every day reliably, follows the steps you’ve created for them, and works hard. Consider applicants you might have overlooked previously.

More money does not equal better candidates

Offering more money doesn’t get you a better applicant. You’re going to get the applicants that are open to being telemarketers. Offering more money just means you start the exact same caller at a much higher rate. Your base should be low and your variable should be based on multiple factors, but should allow any telemarketer on plan to make at least double their base pay after they are up and running.

Hire fast, fire faster

This is not a role that you can hesitate on. Entry level employees need work now. Your new agent applied for a dozen other jobs as well, and they’re not planning their careers three steps ahead. They’ll take the first job that is offered. If you find a candidate you like, hire them.

The biggest indication that you’ve made a bad hire early on will be absenteeism or tardiness. Don’t tolerate either and make performance expectations clear.

Final thoughts

Ask for – and check – references.

Don’t expect a telemarketer to stay with you for more than 18 months (frankly, if you get 18 months that’s incredible) and don’t penalize the overqualified applicant in this market – you could generate a sales pipeline that lasts two years from the calls that the overqualified staffer makes for you.

Next week, we’ll talk about remote interviews. See you then!

Photo: fizkes / Shutterstock

Carrie Simpson

Posted by Carrie Simpson

Carrie Simpson is the founder of Managed Sales Pros, a lead generation firm dedicated to providing new business opportunities for MSPs. Carrie teaches IT firms how to build, manage, and grow their sales pipelines. You can follow Carrie on Twitter @sales_pros and connect with her on LinkedIn. 

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