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Dear Workforce What Questions Should I Ask Prospective Telesales Staff

First, determine how these people will be used. Then probe deeply into their preparation and skill level to be sure they meet appropriate criteria.
May 23, 2001
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QDear Workforce:

What are the best questions to ask when interviewing telesales candidates?

- HR Coordinator, Call Center, Michigan

A Dear Michigan Call Center:

A great deal depends upon whether these people will be taking orders(incoming and therefore the emphasis is on the candidate's customer serviceskills) or truly attempting to sell a product (out-calling/cold calls thatrequire a high level of selling skills and product knowledge -- yours and thecompetition). Each requires not only a different skill set but also a differentmindset.

An order-taker makes "nice" to the customer and needs listeningskills (not questioning skills), speed of reaction to request. Influencing isnot a primary part of the interaction.

For the order-taker, ask the following:

  • Tell me about a time when you extended yourself far beyond what normallywould be expected in order to satisfy the needs of a customer.

  • After an interaction with a difficult customer, what do you do in order toprevent that interaction from influencing succeeding interactions?

  • What strategies have you used for dealing with a customer who was nasty?

  • In your opinion, what are the three most significant elements a customerexpects from a telesales representative?

  • What has been the most important skill ability demanded of you as atelesales person?

  • What tangible evidence can you point to that illustrates your ability tobuild and maintain strong relationships between you (and the company) and those customers with whom you interact?

For the sales person you need to know:

  • What steps do you take to prepare for a sales call?

  • What has been your most successful selling strategy?

  • How long does it typically take you from the initial contact to close asale?

  • What strategies have you used in dealing with a customer who was vagueabout their needs and the capability of your product?

  • Please describe for me how the ability to influence others has made youeffective as a telesales person.

  • Tell me about your most difficult sale and/or most challenging customer.

  • Describe a sales challenge about which you are particularly proud.

  • What has been your biggest challenge in working with customers?

  • How do you ensure that "thinking-about-it" customers call youback as promised?

  • How have you dealt with customer procrastination or decision reluctance?

  • Describe your most effective time management techniques.

  • What do you consider to be a reasonable ratio of calls to existingcustomers vs. cold calls to potential customers on a per-week basis?

  • In your previous job, what techniques did you use to develop and maintainexisting customers?

  • What strategies have you used to get an understanding of the customer'sneeds?

  • What do you consider to be your greatest strength as a salesperson? Please give me some examples that illustrate that ability.

  • What specific methods have you used to develop rapport with a newcustomer?

SOURCE: DeAnneRosenberg, author of "A Manager's Guide To Hiring TheBest Person For Every Job," published by John Wiley & Sons (May 2000),March 12, 2001.

LEARN MORE: Find a "Job Description: Call CenterSupervisor" in the Workforce Research Center

The information contained in this article is intended to provide usefulinformation on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice ora legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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