I’m a huge proponent of candidates making live phone calls. Live telephone calls are a great way to reach the voters, especially those who are not home when you knock on their doors or who live in remote places. But sometimes live calls don’t go well and they can backfire on a candidate.
The Benefits of Making Live Calls
Before we dig into how live telephone calls can blow up on a candidate, let’s look at the multiple reasons your campaign should be making live calls.
1. Everyone has a telephone.
Not only does everyone have a phone these days, many of us are carrying them with us everywhere we go.
And even if the voter doesn’t pick up, a personalized message can be left for them on their answering machine or voice mail.
2. You can have a conversation
Unlike sending mail or making automated phone messages, with live phone calls you can have a two-way discussion with voters.
This allows you to hear the voters concerns. It also allows you to persuade them to support you.
If handled properly, voters will commit to voting for you on the phone. Some will even ask for a sign for your campaign to be placed in their yards.
3. You can call mobile phones
The FCC has regulations about how mobile phones will be called. Since many voters are carrying a smart phone now, there’s a good chance that the number you have in your database is for a mobile device.
At present, the FCC prohibits auto-dialing of mobile phones. If you make auto-dials to mobile phones, all it takes a simple complaint that could lead you to significant fines.
To comply with these regulations and avoid being penalized, you have to pick up the phone and dial the voters.
Three Types of Live Campaign Phone Calls
Live calls can be carried out by your campaign in three ways.
1. The Candidate makes the calls
You want to set aside times to call the voters. Block it off on your schedule, pull up your voter list, and ring up the voters one by one.
This is a highly effective way to build support for your campaign.
As mentioned earlier, if you’re unable to reach a voter at their door for whatever reason, you definitely want to place a phone call.
Just as going door to door as the candidate brings that personal touch to a campaign, making phone calls to the voters does the same.
2. Volunteers make the calls
A lot of volunteers don’t want to go door to door. However, you can usually get them to make phone calls on your behalf.
This is a great way to hit a larger number of voters at the same time. It will increase your amount of voter contact, allow for persuasion, and provide that all important personal touch.
If you’re making calls at the same time as your volunteers, they can also hand the phone to you when they have a voter that has questions they can’t answer or who remains on the fence.
The biggest thing to be concerned with when using volunteers to phone bank is this: make sure you have people who are good on the phone.
They need to be articulate and sound clear when talking on the phone.
They need to have a good script to follow and a list of important topics and questions that might come up, so they can address the most common issues that arise.
Your volunteers also need to be good listeners.
While getting through as many calls on their given list is important, if they are not earnestly listening to what the voters are saying, you could be in big trouble — as you’ll read in a moment.
3. A Professional Call Center makes the calls
An even faster way to get through a call list is to hire a professional phone bank. I like to do this on almost all of my campaigns.
A professional phone bank can complete a list of calls much faster than a group of volunteers.
They sound good on the phone. The callers they employ can make persuasive arguments and advocate for your candidacy, as well as for yard sign locations.
They can also provide you with a list of voters who want to speak to you directly. This allows you to follow up, show you are attentive, and talk to the voters.
This will often lead to bringing a voter over to your column — your only campaign objective.
RT Burns is professional and affordable. Most importantly, they’ve helped me win many close races by helping move undecided voters into the support column for my clients.
How to Blow it with Live Calls
A while back I was working away feverishly on a project. My cell phone rang. It wasn’t a number I recognized, but it was a local number so I picked up as I was awaiting a call.
The person on the other end wasn’t who I thought it might be. It was a volunteer on a campaign.
The woman on the other end of the call asked to speak to me by name, which was good. She then proceeded to identify the candidate she was calling on behalf of, also good.
While I typically like to hear a campaign’s pitch, at that moment I was in the groove on my project and wanted to stay focused on my work.
I told her I was a little busy, but she didn’t notice. She kept talking, rattling off from her script without paying any attention to what I had said.
I reiterated to her that now was not a good time as I was truly in the middle of something.
That gave her pause, but rather than asking when might be a good time for her to call me back, she asked if her candidate could count on my support.
“You know, I might vote for him, but being that you missed it twice when I said I was busy, it’s not boding well for him,” I said.
I thought my comment had made that clear to her, but to my disbelief, she persisted. She went back to her script and her spiel for her candidate.
I figured I’d try to get her attention by telling her that not only was I busy, but that I had some issues with her candidate. I wanted to see how she’d respond.
She didn’t know what to do. No one had prepared her for a voter who might not jump on the bandwagon from a simple phone call.
At that point, she should have asked me if I’d like to speak to the candidate, either if he was there or if she scheduled a time for him to give me a jingle. That didn’t happen.
The call ended and the volunteer had pushed an undecided voter away from her candidate. That brief phone call had cast him in a bad light with me.
As I said about the three things voters really want to know about a candidate, no one wants to know they are not being listened to. That’s exactly how that volunteer made me feel, even if it was unintentional.
I tell you this not to pick on the candidate or the volunteer. In hindsight, I believe she meant well. She simply wasn’t the best person for the campaign to have on the phone.
I let it go and decided not to hold it against the candidate. I’m sure I’ve had volunteers who came off like that, or possibly worse, on a campaign or two.
Plus, this call provided me with a real world example for you to see how live phone calls can go wrong for you.
Learn from this campaign’s mistake. Not all voters will be as forgiving as I am after getting a call from a volunteer many would classify as rude.
If you’re doing live calls with volunteers, make sure you have good people on the phone.
Make sure your volunteers have a good script to guide them but not to always read verbatim.
Provide them with the information they may need about issues and concerns in your race.
And always emphasize that listening to the voters they are calling is as important — if not more so — as finishing the script and completing all of the delegated calls.