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What is a Telemarketer?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A telemarketer is usually a person (though sometimes an automated voice called a robocaller), who calls your home or place of business in order to accomplish one or more of the following tasks:

    1. Gather information for survey purposes
    2. Sell you a product or service
    3. Have you make an appointment with a salesperson, in person, on the telephone, or sometimes through Internet conferencing
    4. Get you to donate to a charity
    5. Get you to vote a specific way, or in a specific election
    6. Get you as a preexisting customer to purchase new products or services.

Telemarketers may also take calls that are generated via advertising or promotions and then attempts any of the above.

The telemarketer may work at a call center, an office, or from home, and some are particularly relentless in calling during family time or the dinner hour, or calling much later in the evening than you would wish. You certainly do not have to wait to listen to the whole pitch of telemarketers, and with caller id, you also have the choice of not answering phone calls from unknown sources. Alternately, you can let your voicemail pick up calls from telemarketers, so you can avoid calls you simply don’t want to answer.

It’s important to understand the function of the telemarketer, and also a little bit about their jobs, so you can meet these people with polite refusal when you are not interested in their services. First, telemarketers in the main tend to be working on either a commission basis, or at minimum wage. Some people really enjoy the work, while others do it because they have to. Most are employing the practice of cold calling, which means they are going to get a rude response from many. There is no need to be rude with these folks; just be direct.

Instead of raging at this phone salesperson for doing his/her job, simply politely inform the person that you are uninterested, wish them luck in their endeavor, attach a closing statement like “Good Night,” and hang up. Talk over them when you have to, to get your point across. When you are really uninterested, don’t waste these people’s time by letting them get through a sales pitch and then lambast them with comments on how rude you think they are for wasting your time.

In many countries and states there are Do Not Call Registries but these do not apply to all types of telemarketers. People who are conducting legitimate market research, making a call that is politically motivated, collecting money you owe, or raising money for a charity, may still call your home and in many cases are exempt from the Do Not Call Registry. However, you can ask these people to remove your name from their calling list, and they generally, except for debt collectors, must honor this request, though this may vary in different countries.

In addition to often being considered unwelcome intruders, many telephone scams have been perpetrated by innocent seeming telemarketers. This has left many people with a distinct distrust of all telemarketers in general, though many are legitimate telephone salespeople doing good work for a market research company or a reputable charity.

If you are legitimately interested in something a telemarketer might offer you, prudence dictates you do the following:

    1. Ask the telemarketer for the real business address and phone number of the business.
    2. Ask the telemarketer for his/her full name and employee number, so that person can be credited with a sale.
    3. Look up the business on the Internet, and verify its legitimacy.
    4. Use the website, and not any phone number the telemarketer gave you to contact the business.
    5. If the business checks out, verify that the business is currently conducting telemarketing, especially before giving out private details like your address, full name, and information like your credit card number.
    6. When you can’t verify a legitimate business, don’t buy anything the company offers or give out any information to the company.

Many telemarketers are absolutely legitimate and the products sold, or solicitations for charity are real. However, in the age of information stealing, it is very important not to be led by a good sales pitch into handing over information that might ultimately be used to your detriment.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By burcinc — On Feb 10, 2014

I don't like telemarketers. I could be nice to them if it was just one or two people calling. I have a bunch of people calling me to donate to something or buy something daily. Naturally, I lose my patience after a while. And it's never a good idea to hang up, because if they don't talk to you, they call again, and again and again. Every day is a telemarketer nightmare for me.

By bluedolphin — On Feb 09, 2014

I love the comments here. Most people don't realize that telemarketers are just trying to make some money. These people have families to care for and they are just doing what they are told. I have worked as a telemarketer as well, and let me tell you, some telemarketing managers are very strict on their employees. Some teach their telemarketer, or sometimes force them to be pushy so that they can sell something. The telemarketers are aware that they are being annoying and that customers hate this behavior but they have no choice. They have people at the company listening to their conversations and making sure that the telemarketer is doing his or her best to sell their product.

So unfortunately, the telemarketer can't always say "okay, thank you, have a nice day" as soon as the customer refuses. They have to keep persisting and keep trying to convince the person on the line to buy something. It's just how it works, but it's always the telemarketer getting verbally abused, not the bosses.

By donasmrs — On Feb 09, 2014

I worked as a telemarketer for a few weeks when I was in college. We weren't selling anything, we were just asking questions and gathering information about party preferences and how people were voting.

Despite the fact that I wasn't selling anything, I had a few people hang up on me and yell at me. I think that telemarketer jobs are very tough. It's important not to take things personally and not to be pushy about things. I was always very courteous and if someone said that they didn't want to participate, I never insisted. I would just say "okay, thank you" and move on.

That being said, the majority of people I spoke to were kind to me and patiently listened to my questions. That was very nice and gave me courage.

By Heavanet — On Feb 09, 2014

I agree with you Talentryto. While it is annoying when telemarketers call, I try to be polite to them. I like how this article touches on the subject of understanding what telemarketers do, and the importance of dealing with them in a pleasant manner.

By Talentryto — On Feb 08, 2014

I know that many people get frustrated when telemarketers call, but I'm sure it's not easy working for a telemarketing company. These employees go to work each day knowing that many of the people they call don't want to hear from them. They are just trying to do their work and earn a paycheck.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Practical Adult Insights contributor...
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