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Telemarketing Triumphs: My Journey to Top Sales and Lessons Learned


I was a kick-ass Telemarketer, and I loved it.

It was 1997. I was 14. My brother got me a job at Canadian Select Farm Foods.

It was one of the best jobs I ever had.

Here is how we sold chemical-free beef freezer packages:

  1. Lease a small office with ~12 desks
  2. Place a phone, a phone book, lead sheets, and a pen at each desk
  3. Print out a script: "Hi Mary? Yeah it's Cameron from Canadian Select Farm Foods. Are you interested in getting a free sample of chemical-free beef? Hello?"
  4. Convert prospects to leads, document on a lead sheet, and deliver to the scheduler.
  5. Scheduling calls to confirm the lead and book a presentation
  6. Salesperson goes to the house, cooks a free sample, and pitches a freezer package.

Gamified compensation was the hook I needed.

The thing that made this job unique was the compensation. If I remember, you would start at minimum wage ($6.85/hr).

But you'd move up brackets as salespeople gave presentations based on your leads. Moving up translated into higher hourly for your entire pay period.

They gamified the job, and I loved games.

How did you do a good job?

There were two primary strategies in the call center.

Strategy 1: Overcoming objections

This strategy involved phoning someone and giving the pitch. Once a prospect objected, you'd work to overcome it.

For example, they taught us about the benefits of the chemical-free beef we offered (which they didn't refer to as organic back then).

It was the classic strategy that they taught when you first joined.

Strategy 2: Numbers game

This strategy was the complete opposite. It involved never trying to overcome an objection. Instead, it was all about speed and volume.

The goal was to find someone agreeing to a presentation on as little information as possible.

They didn't teach the numbers game.

I don't know where I learned it, but I became the #1 salesperson once I started executing that strategy.

I made not $6.85, but $18.85, or even $20+/hr, HUGE cash for a high school kid. I was making over $1000/month.

Even my dad (who I lived with then) saw how much I was making and forced me to pay rent!

The numbers game is a win-win-win for everyone.

1. Win: I got paid more

Need I say more?

2. Win: Prospects got off the phone quicker

If I got on the phone with you and gave my intro pitch, I could sense whether the call would convert.

Instead of waiting for them to hang up. *I would*. That's right; I would hang up on my prospect and move to the next one.

I had done 2x-3x more phone calls than the next person by the time I had optimized this tactic. It was exhilarating. I remember hearing other people trying to overcome objections. I'd make two more calls before they got through their script.

3. Win: Sales converted at a higher rate and volume

And when the salesperson visited, they converted at a higher rate.

Because of my minimalist approach, there was zero chance of setting the wrong expectations. If they asked me questions, I'd respond: "The sales person who visits will have a comprehensive overview."

I bought tons of cool gear with that job.

I got new computers, high-end graphics cards, skateboards, and new clothes.

I liked it so much I even started to recruit my other high school friends.

But even more valuable, I learned many lessons that I use to this day:

  • Look for win-win situations.
  • Experiment and try new things.
  • Be aware of when you're playing a numbers game.
  • Learning to talk to strangers over the phone gave me a massive advantage in my next job in technical support.
  • The dopamine hit of getting another sale was invigorating. It motivated me to set targets and strive for success.
  • Experiencing many hang-ups and rejections taught me not to take it personally. This challenge has boosted my confidence in dealing with rejection in various areas of life.

Although a sweet high school job, it wasn't meant to last. When I moved to another city (Barrie to Ottawa), I had to give it up.

Until next time!