Telephone Solicitation: Caller Training – The Script

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    Our apologies. Circumstances precluded our posting last week … first non-holiday week we’ve missed in five years.

    We continue, now, with our series on Telephone Solicitation. And, by the way, our use of that term excludes telemarketing, robocalling or whatever you call those intrusive, unwelcome calls that always seem to come at inopportune times. Telephone solicitation for nonprofit organizations is about a personal contact.

    Two weeks ago we ran out of space (because we want the postings on The Fundraising Blog to be worthwhile reading, easy to read, and short enough so that you’d not give up on reading a piece that looked too-long-to-read-right-now) and didn’t get to talk about caller training.

    Caller training should have, as it’s main focus, the relationship between the constituent and the caller. It is about the connection they both have with the organization; the connection that the “letter-writer” tried to establish in the pre-call letter; the experiences/attitudes they may have in common; and, most importantly, how the caller treats the constituent.

    For a call to be successful, both the caller and the constituent must be comfortable. At the end of the call, both participants should be smiling. Their feeling should be that they had just had a nice/pleasant experience.

    For the caller, that feeling should make him/her look forward to the next call, to want to make that call, and experience that feeling again. For the constituent, that feeling should reinforce his/her feeling of commitment … to the organization and to follow through with what s/he promised during the call.

    An essential element in the training process is the formal script that the caller will use when making contact with constituents. (The reason the best callers are actors is that they can make their use of a script sound like they just thought of what they wanted to say, and not like they’re reading a script.)

    The wording must be conversational, not stiff, and must focus on the reason for the call. The script should not get into a “Hi, how are you” format. It should begin with the caller identifying him-/herself as the person that (the first section of) the pre-call letter/email said would be calling. If the prospect has received the letter, the rest of the call is easy … because the caller will then address sections two-and-three of the letter. (In case you missed it, the sections of the pre-call letter were discussed in the posting on June 11th.

    Once the caller has identified him-/herself, the next step is to emphasize what was said in the letter about the need for a particular program, and that Mr. Kramden had asked that “you consider a commitment of….” Note, so far, the assumption is that the pre-call letter was received, that the prospect has read it, and has thought about the “support” that had been requested.

    The assumptions continue, with the caller asking how the prospect would like to structure his/her commitment – “Will you be sending your check for that amount sometime this month, or would early next month be better for you?” There should be no discussion as to “IF” the prospect will make the commitment. The only question is “WHEN?”

    Once the desired result (the commitment) has been obtained, then (appropriate) thanks will be in order, and mention that you will tell Mr. Kramden of the donor’s commitment. Following that, there can/should be chit-chat … conversation that will engender those “good feelings.”

    OK, maybe you’re saying to yourself that the above sounds pretty impersonal, but it’s up to the callers, by their tone of voice, inflections, attitude, to show that they care … about the organization, about the program that needs support, and about the person with whom they are speaking.

    The first line, the first thought, in our last posting noted that, “The key ingredient of an in-house telephone solicitation program is the person making the phone call.”

    Next week we’ll wrap up this series with some varied thoughts about
    the process – the callers, the training, and the calling environment.

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