Telemarketing: Adventures in The Call Trade

How, might you ask, did I save up enough money to go back to Japan? Did I beg, borrow and steal? Prostitute myself? Family?

Well, kind of. I’ve got the money the same way as last time. Telemarketing and a little help from my family. That’s right, I’m a Call Boy. Should you wish to follow in my footsteps…. take a deep breath, we are about to listen in on a call centre.

Getting the job.

It doesn’t matter what the job is, you need to look and sound like you love people, and talking, and talking people into doing things for you. Because if YOU can talk YOUR friends into going to a movie then this JOB is for YOU! It is all about YOU and THE TEAM!

The truth is that if you just show up to the interview, most telemarketing jobs are within your reach. I’ve turned up two hours late for an interview and still got the job. The key is to have NO EXPERIENCE and a willingness to GIVE IT A GO! No matter how many telemarketing jobs you have done – never let your future employer know this. Once you have experience, you suddenly need a proven sales record (which will never be good enough).

Congratulations, you have the job.

Time to celebrate? Hell no. Time to find out if this is commission based. If it is (and doesn’t have a base rate of pay) – it is time to look for a new job. Thanks, but no thanks. NEXT!

If it has decent pay, now it’s time for…


This can last anywhere between 30 minutes and 3 days (any longer and it would be a real job). The more training, the more they expect YOU, the salesperson to PERFORM! Ironically, this is a “trial by fire” kind of job. Most people are expected to drop out by the end of the first shift.

No matter where you are, the training will involve some form of an explanation of AIDA – ATTENTION leads to INTEREST leads to DESIRE leads to ACTION (the all important credit card). Your inability to sell to every customer will be blamed on you not adhering to these principles. So listen closely. Or not (it doesn’t make much difference).

You will also be told to FOLLOW THE SCRIPT and the pre-written OBJECTION SCRIPTS. Your inability to sell will also be blamed on you not delivering the SCRIPT with the intended EMPATHY and POW!

Some places even have little bits of jargon like BANG! (a $100 donation) or BANG! BANG! (dialing the next number straight away or in the case of an autodialer quickly clicking the button).

Now you are ready for…

The Talk.

Just in case you forgot your training, the next step is PUMPING YOU UP! The product is AMAZING! YOU are AMAZING! If you’re in a good call centre this will involve games and prizes. If not it will involve the threat of getting fired. NOW. If you don’t make the sales quota. Now you’re in the mood for –

Live Customers.

BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off. BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off. BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off. BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off. BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off. BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off.BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off. BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off. BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off.

We’ve noticed you’re having some trouble. The team leader will now give you a pep talk, listen to you’re calls and help you get into the zone… sometimes this actually can be helpful… Most of the time it is like watching your own death in slow motion.

BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off. BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off. BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off. BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off.BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off.BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off.BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off.BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off.BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off.BANG BANG! Hello… Fuck Off. BANG BANG! Hello…

SALE! Celebrate! Blow the horn! BANG BANG!

Hello… Fuck Off. BANG BANG!

After 300 calls you get the hang of it. And great! You made a sale and you survived your first shift. You are now in the top 70% (the rest left the building and aren’t coming back). Time to go to bed and dream of making telephone calls. All night.

What happens next varies from place to place and on the product you’re selling. I’ve sold just about everything. So here is what it’s like selling…

Raffle Tickets for Charity.

Actually pretty easy. People like winning cars. Everyone will protest that they don’t but it is much harder just asking for straight donations – believe me. I lasted 5 weeks in this place. Most people only lasted a week. Charity fundraising is emotionally draining, and if you are advertising lots of places – easy to mix up the names. This place had an auto-dialer, so learning how to say, “Hello, is Mr. COCKPISS there?” with a straight face is a must.

Holiday Vouchers

This place was commission only. It is amazing how hard it is to sell a holiday. I was much better at the high stress of charity. Nice place, bad pay, difficult to get to.


A surprising amount of legal questions. I sold both Red and Green Energy. I left both places within a day or two. Very boring. Low pay.


Giving away a free holiday. The catch? Inviting people to a timeshare presentation (where they can also go into a lucky draw to win another holiday). I left after a week. I could only get one people to say maybe. Like I said Holidays are tough. People are suspicious. The pay was decent.

Charity Donations.

Often involves asking old people for large sums of money. A touch sell. Also big on the credit card sell. Often involves telling longs stories about kids just about to die of cancer or molested by their parents (both things I have had to call and tell people). I lasted maybe 30 minutes. One more call and I would have jumped off a cliff. Unbelievably depressing. No, you can’t imagine it.


I lasted 7 weeks here. Actually a decent job. Good pay. Easy sell. Brain liquifying. Boring beyond belief. Great People.

Re-Financing the Mortgage

Not too bad. This was more of a survey. The tough question was asking people how much they earn. But not bad. The pay was OK. The location was too far away for easy travel. I lasted about 4-5 weeks.


Getting fat people into the gym. Motivation was the key. This job was the most fun and the most rewarding. I lasted about 9 weeks. I might even do this one again before heading off to Japan.

The Perks.

So you see? It’s not that hard, just leave your soul at the door and pick up the two cents at the end of the day for your trouble. The truth is that you can meet some pretty nice people. Some amazingly diverse groups of people do telemarketing in between jobs. It’s the telemarketing for life ones that you have to beware of. The money isn’t bad, and if you have a goal in mind, not the worst way to earn a crust. Not actually it is a bad way. It’s just more tolerable then you realise. Besides, there are some nice people out there to call (it’s true) and you can have a great chat with some of the old dears out there. And after talking to thousands of angry people every day and from all walks of life, you can begin to do this in your “off the phone” life as well.

Good luck!

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