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What I learned from phone banking for a political race

Pro tip: Easy way to practice telephone prospecting: phone bank for a candidate!

Last November I volunteered to take a 90 minute shift making phone calls for a local political candidate. In local races, candidate name recognition is always a problem. Finding volunteers to make calls is tough - no one enjoys interrupting people, and the chances of being on the receiving end of a hang up are high.

Jeb Blount's great 2019 book "Fanatical Prospecting" emphasizes that phone calling targets works. Nowadays it's easier to reach people by phone than ever before - most business cards actually list a mobile number, and companies don't use land lines and voicemail. Your targets are at home, working!

But you still have to make yourself sit down and make the calls! And volunteering to spend 90 minutes making phone calls reminded me why this is important. Here's what I learned (or re-learned!):

  1. Keep dialing. The most important objective is to get in as many calls in 90 minutes as you can.

  2. The job is simple: qualify, ask, move on. Is the number the right one? Do they know who the candidate is? Can we ask for your vote? Finding a wrong number improves the database - a "No" is just as important as getting a "Yes".

  3. Have a written script that's designed to do what you need, and don't overthink it. In this case, someone else wrote it and tested it, and I didn't have to put in any effort at all.

  4. Put human emotion into your voice - enthusiasm, energy, good cheer. This works, and connects with a surprising number of people.

  5. You're going to get hung up on. It's not personal, and it doesn't hurt to say "Sorry I bothered you, goodbye!" Most negative reactions come from external factors: excessive robocalls, too much election coverage, pressure to get dinner on the table. It's not hard to sympathize.

  6. After your time block is done, you've accomplished something. You updated the database; you connected with some people that will now recognize your candidate's name on the next yard sign or mailer; and maybe you even got one or two votes locked down. Let yourself feel good!

Imagine if you did this every day with your CRM?

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