May 15

Traits of the Best Teleprospectors

Inside Sales


Last month’s webinars on leveraging the human touch to drive leads, presented for the B2B Lead Roundtable and Marketo, prompted a great question: “What should I look for in a teleprospector?”

Unfortunately, that can’t be answered with a fast, convenient sound bite. That’s why I’m going to do my best to respond here in my inaugural blog post.

I’ve been involved in hiring hundreds of teleprospectors. Fortune 100 companies from a broad base of industries hire us to do teleprospecting for them; they know the value of the human touch to optimize their lead generation efforts. It seems like we’re always on the lookout for powerful teleprospectors to support these accounts. Over the years, we’ve pinpointed some of the critical traits that are inherent in every top performer:

An abiding desire to serve. Teleprospectors must sincerely want to help others because that’s what they’re going to be doing all day, every day. When they conclude a conversation with a prospect, we want that prospect to feel like the call added value to his day – regardless of his timing to buy. To make that happen, teleprospectors must have an attitude of service, a sincere eagerness to help others. Furthermore, not only must teleprospectors serve the people they call, they must gain real satisfaction from serving their colleagues as well. There’s no room to be territorial because they’re going to be passing leads to someone else who will take them to the next level
in the sales

The focus to follow a process. A full-time teleprospector can expect to make 80 to 100 calls a day. This entails far more than simply smiling, dialing, and spouting a script. After all, we use call guides, not scripts; read this or watch our most recent webinar to determine why. Our team must be fully engaged in each call to execute proven, tested tactics that drive opportunity successfully. It doesn’t matter how clever or charming a candidate is; if he’s unwilling to follow a process, you don’t want him calling.

Tenacity and patience. We’re not bell-ringers here; people aren’t getting leads every three minutes. It can typically take 8 to 19 calls to reach a prospect. Teleprospecting is not for someone who thrives on instant gratification.

Empathy and strong listening skills. They must be able to put themselves in their prospects’ shoes and anticipate their needs. That means listening intently to pick up on the subtle signals that indicate where a prospect is in the buying process. You would be impressed at the engagement we get from prospects who can sense that our teleprospectors pay close attention. People know when they’re genuinely being listened to.

Curiosity coupled with a love of learning. People with this combination like to be informed; they’re well-read and take pride in keeping up with what’s happening in the business world. This is a key trait for our teleprospectors because they can ultimately work with a variety of clients. While we train and coach them extensively, they must be ready to intelligently discuss many topics ranging from manufacturing devices to educational programs.

A clear, measured, confident speaking voice. This is lower on the list because it can be taught more than any of the other qualities.

Obviously, you’re not going to be able to scan a resume and identify these skills, and you can’t take someone from outside sales, plop them down with a headset and a script, and expect success. Road warriors are accustomed to closing; hunting for opportunity requires a completely different skill set, and very few people have both.

To find great teleprospectors, we have candidates undergo multiple interviews and tests, including role-playing and psychological analyses, to identify strengths and opportunities for growth. You never know where you’re going to find out a stand-out employee. A case in point is Mark Wicka, our Senior Business Development Representative. He came to our company as a temp and had never worked in any lead-generation role. Eleven years later, he’s still here. (And talk about work ethic – he’s never called in sick during those entire 11 years!)

He began his career here, generating leads for our clients. But these days, we’re using his skills to generate leads for MECLABS while mentoring and supervising a team that is doing the same. He thrives on learning; when he worked for our clients, he dove into educating himself about their industries and products. Now that he drives business for MECLABS, he has become an expert in all aspects of lead generation. Yet, he’s the most humble guy you’d ever meet; he never comes across as a know-it-all, just very informed and authentic. His spirit of service shines through in everything he does. Consider what he has to say about what motivated him to come to MECLABS:

“I feel like fate brought me here. I worked in print advertising, but it didn’t resonate. I didn’t think it was very effective, and I wanted to work for a company where I knew their solution worked,” he recalls. “I was doing more than look for a job. I wanted to work for an organization that I believed in. I’ve found that at MECLABS.

“My goal is to be an intelligent follower. There’s no disgrace in following. The person who follows leaders most effectively is the one who develops leadership most rapidly. I’ve had great mentors here – when I started, it was my program managers. Today, it’s Brian Carroll and Flint McGlaughlin (CEO and Managing Director of MECLABS). Their success is my success.”

I would love to hear your thoughts about the qualities you think are essential to be an effective teleprospector. Are you surprised by my conclusions? Are there other skills you think are just as important as the ones I’ve listed? Do you want me to expand on any of these thoughts? Feel free to comment below.

About the author 

Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll is the CEO and founder of markempa, helping companies to convert more customers with empathy-based marketing.

He is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and founded B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 20,301+ members.

  1. With all sales and marketing it should always focus on the client and the needs and pains they are facing.

  2. One of the things for me with a good teleprospector is the ability to listen and have fluid dialog. If they are using a script and always looking to funnel, I think that this can have a negative effect for the call reciever. When does call control become too much?

  3. Great article and a nice read. The definition of the traits are well delivered. I especially agree with the third trait. A teleprospector that does not know the meaning of the word patience will ultimately fail at what they are trying to achieve. Anyways, thanks for the great share.

  4. Great questions, Samantha. We have discovered that if you choose financial rewards they need to be tailored to the individual, even when the teleprospector’s personality traits tend to be similar. Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y’s tend to be motivated by different types of rewards, since they often have different interests. For example, an iTunes card for a Gen Y and a gift card to a nice restaurant for a Boomer.

    With that said, those types of rewards do not have a lasting effect. We have found two simple, yet effective motivators. First, give consistent feedback about the leads they are generating. Have a sale rep that is taking the leads give direct feedback as to how the leads are moving through the pipeline and closing. The sales reps sharing and celebrating wins with their teleprospectors is a big motivator. Second, recognized the teleprospector publicly for their great work and contribution. Be specific and make sure they know the highest company leadership sees it.

    Yes, we include digital engagement with teleprospecting. Integrating e-mail into the teleprospector’s process is key since they will need relevant content to move the conversation forward. Giving your teleprospectors the ability to reference blog posts, LinkedIn content, videos, and other social media content can really empower and enable your teleprospectors to nurture prospects until they are sales ready. Ideally, e-mail and link tracking should be integrated into the Telepropectors calling system.

  5. This is so true, it just seems a shame that so many companies still go for the smile and dial approach as it can save 5% of costs up front.

    I’d also add be yourself, so many people go into telesales with a mindset of what type of person is successful and will try and force this on the phone. Almost anybody can succeed in telesales you just have to be yourself.

  6. This was such a timely article for me. These are great tips. What do you think is the best way to reward this type of person? Have you included digital engagement into their role ie how to link the telemarketing to emailing to social media.

  7. Interesting read! These are great tips, especially the part on being sincere and willing to serve. I would just like to add another tip – the teleprospector should be enjoying his job, so that it won’t feel like he’s just working day-in, day-out, it really takes the monotony out of daily life. Thanks for the post Brandon.

  8. Great article. I especially agree with the listening skills. Stop talking and start listening! There is a wealth of knowledge to learn about your clients if you focus on them rather than only thinking about the sale. When you are on the phone it is even more important. Thanks for sharing~

  9. An interesting post Brendon; but I would have put the traits in order of preference (tenacity being at the top). Agree with all the points you raised, a concise article.

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