Mock Calling is a critical part of any new caller training session. It's also important for new major gift officers and leadership giving officers to practice in this same way. All-to-often, though, the exercise becomes stale and perfunctory. Here are 5 ideas to re-invigorate your mock calling practice, whether you work in phonathon, annual giving, or major gifts.
Have your callers each call from their cell phones and leave a voicemail on your office line of an abbreviated script. Then have the entire training class listen to each voicemail and critique the caller based on enunciation, speed, sincerity and other qualities.
Create a set of cards with fake prospects on them. Create corresponding cards with background information on how the prospect is predisposed to react to an ask. Pair up callers and give them several sets of cards to work through alternating between caller and prospects. (This works for leadership and major gift officers too. Just practice asking for a visit and handling objections to taking the visit.)
Have one caller go to a nearby office (far enough so they cannot see or hear the group) and have them call a line with a speaker phone function. Put the call on speaker phone so the rest of the class can hear the conversation. Make sure everyone gets a turn and that you debrief after every call what went well and what could be done better.
Rapid Fire Objection Practice
Divide callers into teams and have them stand in two rows. Give each caller at the front of the line an objection. “I can’t give this year. I just had a baby.” Caller must respond immediately. After each round, have an impartial judge (student supervisors or lead caller) award a point to the team whose caller handled that round best. Winning team gets a prize. Judge selects an MVP from both teams. (For full-time fundraising staff, just practice objections to taking the visit.)
Power Intro Drills
Practice just the first 10-15 of a call, including asking for the prospect, introducing the institution and yourself and lastly stating why you are calling. Every caller gets several chances and then everyone gets to go again at the end of practice. Select a most improved caller or two who show significant improvement. Judge their intros on sincerity, diction, energy and enthusiasm. Every fundraiser needs a strong introduction whether they are a student caller or the CEO.
If you found this article helpful, you may also be interested in my e-book How to Staff Your Phonathon Super-Fast: Seven Secrets to Fill the Seats. It's on sale now for $40 with the coupon code fillseats (valid through 9/1/16). This book guides you through innovative ideas and practices to turbo-charge your phonathon staffing efforts and break free from the hamster wheel of turnover. It also includes an appendix full of templates and samples to get you started implementing this system fast.
Jessica Cloud, CFRE
I've been called the Tasmanian Devil of fundraising and I'm here to talk shop with you.