What Is Telesales? Definition, Agent Duties and Skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 21, 2022 | Published February 4, 2020

Updated July 21, 2022

Published February 4, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An employee sitting in front of a computer speaks on the phone using a headset.

A career in telesales requires excellent communication and sales skills and customer service knowledge. As a telesales representative, you will spend most of your working hours persuading prospective and existing customers to buy products or services. Understanding the skills and requirements of a telesales position can help you determine if it is an ideal career for you.

In this article, we discuss telesales, how it differs from telemarketing and the duties and skills you need to excel in a telesales role.

What is telesales?

Telesales is the selling of products or services through the telephone. The aim of telesales is to build repeat business through excellent customer relations. Telesales representatives contact customers to promote offers or to set up appointments to support field sales representatives.

As a telesales representative, you reach potential and existing customers directly by phone to encourage them to buy your company's offers. There are two types of telesales: inbound and outbound. Inbound agents receive calls from prospective and existing customers while outbound representatives call leads to generate sales.

Telesales requires you to be patient, persuasive and persistent. You also need exceptional communication and phone skills, typing experience and the ability to thrive in an office environment.

Related: Telemarketing Resume Samples

The difference between telemarketing and telesales

While telesales involves selling directly to customers by telephone, telemarketing has a broader scope.

Telemarketers use phone calls to generate interest, offer information, obtain customer feedback and produce leads. The role of telemarketing is to create sales prospects, while telesales converts the opportunities into sales and repeat buyers of a company's products or services.

For a better understanding of telemarketing and telesales, consider their functions:


Goals of telemarketers include:

  • Providing the customer with information about a company's products or services in order to create interest in the brand

  • Helping telesales teams identify and qualify potential sales leads

  • Providing reliable and actionable data to support the telesales team to increase efficiency and productivity

  • Pre-qualifying prospects to make the work of sales teams easier

  • Generating repeat business by promoting new offers to customers

  • Converting customer inquiries into sales opportunities

  • Providing market research through outbound calling

  • Surveying customer satisfaction


Goals of a telesales representative include:

  • Using the data provided by telemarketing representatives to pursue promising leads with persuasion and persistence

  • Converting difficult leads into customers

  • Cutting costs per sales while increasing conversion rates by reducing travel expenses and number of field representatives

  • Helping to reduce the number of people on the sales team

  • Cold calling and helping to reduce negative reaction from leads

  • Providing brand recognition by leaving buyers with an excellent impression of a company through effective customer relations, empathy and effective communication skills

Read more: Learn About Being a Telemarketer

Duties of a telesales representative

The duties of a telesales representative range from lead generation to direct sales and customer relations. An effective telesales agent will close leads and ensure customers are satisfied enough to continue doing business with their company. The duties of a telesales representative include:

Lead generation

Telesales representatives play a vital role in generating leads for the sales team. They contact potential and existing customers by phone to inform them of their company's products, services and offers. Telesales agents also receive phone calls of people responding to direct marketing and advertising campaigns. They follow a script to qualify prospects ready to buy and those who may likely purchase their offers with enough persuasion. This prequalification process helps the field sales team to work faster and increases conversion rates.

Direct sales

Besides creating awareness about products or services, telesales representatives also perform direct sales functions. Working with telemarketers and the sales team, they can use the data from previous sales to target customers for repeat business. Telesales agents can also ask promising leads qualifying questions which can help reveal their willingness to buy.

Take and process orders

Telesales agents take and process orders to meet sales quotas. They manage repeat purchases, which provides opportunities to cross-sell existing customers. When customers place new orders, agents use scripts to offer additional products or services based on past purchasing behavior. This helps to boost sales and profits and allows the sales team to concentrate on selling in the field.

Customer service

Excellent customer service delivery is part of a telesales agent's duties. To encourage customers to continue buying from their company, agents call them after a sale to make sure they are satisfied with the product or service. They also collect, compile and update customer records in a database, making it vital to have excellent typing and telephone skills.

Telesales agents also inform customers of new offers based on their preferences and needs. Part of their customer service duties is to provide accurate information about the company, its products or services, promotions and other details. This makes it crucial for telesales agents to have in-depth knowledge of their organization and its offers.

Conflict resolution

Telesales agents must have excellent dispute resolution skills. Since they are always speaking with customers, they help to handle their grievances quickly before they become bigger issues. This allows customers to get maximum satisfaction from their purchases and preserves the company's reputation.

Activity reports

An effective telesales agent will also create and update activity reports. The reports cover the number of calls, leads, customers, sales and other vital statistics that can help increase revenue.

Meet sales goals

Telesales representatives need to meet monthly and quarterly sales goals according to the company's revenue targets. They must make a minimum number of calls and close a specific number of sales that moves them closer to their quotas.

Read more: 17 Tips for Effective Cold Calling (With Scripts)

Telesales representative skills

Telesales representatives are required to have the skills sales representatives have and then some. This is because they do all the persuasion and selling on the phone without a physical meeting. Here are important skills you should have to excel at a telesales job:


Successful telesales agents need to have excellent communication skills. They need to be able to start and maintain meaningful conversations with strangers.

Telesales representatives can quickly read the tone and pitch of the person they are speaking with and adjust their voice to create more rapport. They need to understand the customer's language and be able explain difficult concepts in easily understandable terms. Besides speaking in clear terms, they need to actively listen and be patient enough to hear customers' concerns. This allows them to provide personalized experiences for improved customer satisfaction.

Interpersonal skills

Telesales representatives must have interpersonal skills. Selling on the phone requires the ability to create rapport with the other person without seeing them.

This involves using empathy, patience and persuasion to convert leads and convince existing customers to become repeat buyers. Emotional intelligence, active listening and conflict resolution are also vital skills for creating continuous business.

Experience in sales

Telesales agents need to be knowledgeable in sales. Employers want candidates who can successfully meet sales quotas over the phone, set up appointments and follow up leads. They need to know how to use scripts to qualify prospective customers and convince existing buyers to purchase more products or services. A great telesales representative needs good negotiating skills to address customer complaints and convince them to buy at favorable rates.

Knowledge of telephone and computer systems

A good telesales representative will have working knowledge of telephone systems. They also need to be knowledgeable about customer relations management software and computer programs required for their duties.

Fast learning

Telesales agents need to have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of products or services so they can explain the benefits to customers and convince them to buy from the company. This requires agents to be fast learners because they rely on scripts to close leads.

Cool disposition

If you want to pursue a career in telesales, you need to have a cool temper. Sometimes, the person on the other side of the phone may not be interested in talking, leading to tense situations. You must be able to handle rejection calmly without allowing it to affect your job.

Read more: All the Different Types of Sales Jobs

Common interview questions for telesales agents

Telesales interview questions test your sales experience and ability to sell on the phone. Employers also use these questions to evaluate your knowledge of technology, persuasion skills and persistence.

Here are common questions to expect at a telesales interview:

  • Why are you interested in telesales?

  • What is the difference between telemarketing and telesales?

  • Are you comfortable making cold calls?

  • Do you like working with quotas? How would you meet them?

  • How do you handle rejection?

  • What interests you about selling remotely?

  • Describe a time when you successfully convinced a person to buy a product or service.

  • How would you handle an unruly customer on the phone?

  • Can you use social media and other telecommunication tools?

  • Do you have experience with CRM software?

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