What is Telemarketing & How to Succeed

what is telemarketing

Perhaps it’s because it’s been around so long, or maybe it’s because digital marketing has been all the rage since the dawn of the Internet, but telemarketing often finds itself getting overlooked. Granted, it’s not as shiny as fancy digital sales funnels, and it takes more manpower than automating some social media ads. But telemarketing as an area hasn’t stayed the course for so long for no reason.

So what is telemarketing and why has it stuck around so long? To be concise about it, picking up the phone and calling a potential prospect works. It doesn’t work all the time—experienced cold callers understand the pain of rejection like nobody else—but it does work enough to be more than worthwhile. As such, it’s a valuable weapon in any marketer’s arsenal. 

In the following article, we’ll be demystifying telemarketing and getting into how best to tackle this fascinating sales approach in order to maximize success for you and your business.

Telemarketing In The Modern Business Landscape

At its core, telemarketing is an almost ridiculous simple process. You pick up the phone, call somebody, and try to sell them something. It’s direct, it’s personal, and, when done right, can reap incredible benefits. 

There are a range of different reasons for this. The effect of hearing another voice on the other end of the line is reassuring, for one thing. In an age when chatbots are dominating customer service and support teams can leave you on hold for twenty minutes at a time, sometimes it can be a relief just to finally be in touch with another human being. 

Countless great businesses were built through nothing but a telephone, a Rolodex, and a sales-minded individual who simply refused to give up, no matter how many rejections they received.

And as effective as it may be on its own, when used as a strategic tool in conjunction with other marketing channels, it gets even more powerful. The rapid pace of technological innovation, far from rendering telemarketing obsolete, has instead introduced the field to a whole new realm of possibilities. 

From dialing assistants and CRMs to lead-sourcing software and even AI-assisted scripts, there are more options for augmenting your telemarketing efforts than ever before—and the rapid progress of the area shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Key Strategies for Effective Telemarketing

So those were some of the most positive aspects of telemarketing. Now it’s time for a cold, hard negative: if all you’re doing is picking up the phone and dialing a number, you might as well kiss your chances for sustained, long-term success down the drain.

Without a well thought-out, stress-tested strategy, it isn’t nearly so impactful. What is telemarketing strategy? we hear you asking—but don’t worry, we’re here to help break it all down. Building out a cohesive action plan requires becoming familiar with various intersecting concepts.

Understanding Your Audience

At a very basic level, telemarketing is no different from other forms of marketing at all, in that if you don’t understand your audience, you might as well go straight home. Do not pass ‘Go’, do not collect $200: you’re not going to get anywhere. 

But if you do understand the people you’re selling to, you stand a great chance of success. Tailoring your message to strike a chord with your potential customers’ specific needs and pain points is the key psychological takeaway you want to aim for as you set about understanding them.

Develop a Strong Script

Scripting a conversation might sound counterintuitive. Shouldn’t a good conversation flow naturally? Well, yes, but also no. Too much of a good thing can kill you, as X said, and spur-of-the-moment conversational improvisation is no different. 

Having a strong script keeps the conversation focused and ensures you won’t steer too far off course. While spontaneity is key, having a script helps keep the conversation focused on what your customer needs and how you can provide it for them. It should be engaging, concise, and flexible enough to adapt to a range of customer personas—but it should ideally also leave room for on-the-spot creativity. 

(If you want to move past the ‘What is telemarketing?’ question and learn more about how to create a killer telemarketing script, check out our earlier blog post on exactly that topic, with a free script template included, by clicking here).

Study the Art of Active Listening

Don’t assume that just because you’ve been doing it your whole life, you’re good at listening. As it happens, most of us struggle to listen effectively during even the most mundane of day-to-day conversations. And when it comes to the kind of active, focused listening required for high-converting telemarketing calls, most of us are worse than useless.

But that’s only because it’s a skill, and like any skill, if you don’t practice it, you can’t expect to get anywhere. At the core of strong active listening abilities lies empathy. By understanding your customers’ needs and being able to place yourself in their shoes, you’ll find it much easier to ask relevant questions, proving you’ve been paying attention while they’ve been talking and helping them to feel like they’re truly being heard. 

We’ve all suffered through stupefying interactions where it’s become painfully clear that the person we’re talking with hasn’t heard a word we’ve been saying. Don’t be that guy.

Learn How to (Really) Handle Rejection

There’s an old boxing saying: everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. Funnily enough, the same logic holds true for rejection. As a general rule, we all like to think we handle being told ‘no’ well. And as another general rule, we all struggle to brush off rejection half as gracefully as we’d like to believe.

The uncomfortable truth is that rejection is unavoidable in the world of telemarketing. The vast majority of cold calls end in a no; another significant percentage will end in hang-ups before you’ve even had the chance to introduce yourself properly.

If you can learn to handle yourself professionally in the face of disinterest, boredom, and at times active hostility, you won’t just be standing out from the crowd. You’ll be building up an unbeatable mental coat of armor that’ll help you become that much more effective on the rest of your calls. 

That means staying polite, remaining open, and doing everything you can not to burn bridges, no matter how rude or inconsiderate the prospect may have been. Trust us: it hurts, but it’s worth it.

Be Persistent

We’d like to start this point with a quick caveat. Persistence doesn’t mean hounding potential customers who have made it clear they have no interest—that’s an ill-advised tactic that should be avoided at all costs. 

But following up with anybody who did show interest, even if their initial response was a ‘no’? That’s where you discover the hidden deals that were just waiting to be made so they could pump up your conversion percentages.

Sometimes, the only difference between a missed opportunity and a sale is the fact that the salesperson didn’t take the time or effort to reach out after the initial contact. There’s only one way to prevent that fate from befalling you, and that’s by making it a personal rule to always follow up with anybody who expresses interest, no matter how busy you may be with other tasks. 

If nothing else, they’ll leave the conversation with a stronger association with your name and an easy number to call back if they ever change their mind.

tools for telemarketing

Making Your Life Easier With Technology

It’s never been easier to enhance your workflow than in today’s modern world. With a wealth of tools and software packages out there designed to make your life as a telemarketer easier, sometimes it can be harder to choose what not to use. 

That being said, here are a few recommendations to consider bringing into your process. And if you’re wondering what is telemarketing’s advantage if you’re only going to enhance it with technology anyway, remember that the human touch isn’t going anywhere. It’s just getting more efficient.


You won’t believe just how much time these programs save. By automatically dialing numbers, you and your team can focus more on the actual conversation itself. Plus, it takes away from the psychological blow of physically dialing number after number all day long.


A good CRM system will help you track calls, update prospect details, keep on top of your deal flow, and easily spot gaps in your own workflow you can target for improvement. It’ll also take the pain out of following up. 

noCRM, for example, automatically assigns follow-up statuses, preventing you from leaving any sales on the table that you don’t have to.

Call Recording Tools

You know how awful it feels to hear your own voice played back to you? Well, you’d better try to get over that, because there’s no better way to figure out where you’re going wrong than by recording your conversations and studying them later. 

Call recording tools are lightweight, user-friendly, and inexpensive, so there’s really no excuse not to at least try them out.

In Conclusion

As an entire field in and of itself, telemarketing is far too vast to be summed up in a single article. But hopefully, the above breakdown goes some distance to breaking down the finer points of the art. At the end of the day, as long as you remember the golden rule, you’ll do just fine:

It’s not just about picking up the phone and making those calls—but it’s mostly about picking up the phone and making those calls.