Whether it’s your first rodeo or you’re a seasoned pro, phone banking can be tough. The anxiety of talking to thousands of strangers (some of which might not be thrilled about talking to you), the pressure of reaching your goals, and the feeling of responsibility to your campaign and candidate can leave you feeling a little apprehensive about sitting down and dialing that first number.
That’s why we’ve put together this collection of tips (and GIFs) to help you survive and thrive during your next phone banking shift, whether it’s your first time out or your hundredth.
People can hear smiles. That’s right, people can hear whether you’re smiling or not on the other end of the phone line. That’s because your facial expression changes both the way you feel, and the way you sound. If you’re smiling, you’re gonna feel better and sound more enthusiastic on the phone, and that will have a big effect on the conversations you have.
Pro tip: Need some extra help? Put a couple of jelly beans (or nuts if that’s your thing) on the desk to help keep you energized and happy.
People are going to hang up on you, and some are even going to be rude to you - and it’s going feel pretty bad. The trick to not getting discouraged is to avoid sitting there and dwelling on it. Yes, people can be pretty weird, but the best way to avoid internalizing that stuff is to start dialling and move on to the next one.
Remember, it’s not personal. As a whole, your team will probably end up with a contact rate of 1 in 10 or so, so you’ll need to work through 9 people who won’t speak to you to find the one that will. Chin up, and keep smilin’ and dialin’.
Track Those #Goals
Whether your goals are set for you or by you, make sure you’ve got them written down in front of you, and that you’re marking off your progress as you go. Sort of like remembering to smile, this is a mind trick that helps you commit to your goals, and keep you motivated. Tick off each call (and maybe eat one of those jelly beans) so you know how many calls are left, and how you’re pacing. This way you’ll stay honest, and spur yourself on.
Pro Tip: make a game out of it. Put candy in a bowl, and ration one piece out for every 5 calls - it can make the whole experience just a little sweeter.
Know Your Lines
For your first time out (or for a new script), take 15 minutes to run through it with another phone banker. Practice a few mock calls until you get the feel for the structure of the script, and are able to deliver it with confidence. Not only will practice help quell any nervousness you might be feeling, it’ll help you sound a little more natural, and prevent you losing your place mid-conversation when you’re on your phone.
Pro Tip: Focus on the hard ask part of your script especially. This part is critical, and really needs to be delivered with force and conviction. Try getting comfortable with letting the silence hang after making the ask - this technique puts the ball firmly in the court of the person on the other end of the phone, compelling them to respond.
Get Your Story Straight
At some point in the shift, someone is going to ask you who you are and why you’re working for the campaign. This is a pretty common question, and an important part of the conversation - the person on the other end of the phone wants to know you’re genuine, that you care about what you’re doing and believe what you’re saying.
Spend a few minutes putting together a quick story of self detailing who you are, and why you’re working for the campaign. Make sure this elevator pitch is no more than a sentence or two long, and takes no more than 15 seconds to deliver.
Pro tip: If possible, try and include a single, personal detail about yourself that connects you to the campaign’s issues (e.g I’m struggling with student debt, my parents are immigrants, etc). Techniques like this lend a softer touch to your story.
Phone banking is one of the best things you can do to get involved in the political process - and once you get into it, it can be a real rush. With these 5 tips, you’re all set to get out there and crush it for your campaign. Got any extra tips to share? Tweet us @NGPVAN, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your advice - we’d love to hear it!