Dear Millennial, Pick Up The Phone. Love, Your Boss. (Part II)

Sections of this topic

    Many Millennials don’t love talking on the phone … especially with people whose numbers aren’t already programmed into our phones; and, many of us are terrible at it. In fundraising, however, phone skills are a must.

    This is a continuation of my posting on how to make more and better outreach calls – specifically, introductory calls requesting face-to-face meetings with prospects we’ve never met.

    4. Ask questions. As you’re writing your script (see last week’s posting), remember that your job is to build a relationship with your prospect, not lecture them. Build in a few easy-to-answer questions near the beginning: “Did you survive the storm last week?”, “Is your summer off to a good start?” Ask about the last event they attended. Ask if they received the last newsletter – “Did you see the item about _______?” Ask about their feelings regarding one or more of your organization’s  programs, programs that you know they support. But, avoid questions that can evoke negative answers.

    5. Practice and find your “guru voice.” Here’s what I mean. You represent an amazing organization that’s doing amazing work. You’re an expert in the issues your organization addresses and you have the potential to help connect your prospect to your organization in a meaningful way.

    Gurus are confident in their abilities, yet still inquisitive, calm in their demeanor, but never apathetic, and they are clear in their delivery, yet not heavy-handed. Gurus have a child-like mastery.

    You don’t need to be apologetic, you don’t need to worry about whether or not you’re bothering the prospect, and you don’t need to try and muster up false enthusiasm. Practice aloud and find your warmest, most inquisitive, most confident self. Speak from there.

    6. Leave messages. Play to your strengths by using the phone to get people to email you. The odds are good you’ll need to leave a message for your prospect. Do leave your call back number, but also, let the prospect know you’ll follow up via email. Send that note shortly after the call. I get far more replies to my follow-up emails than return calls.

    You don’t have to love your phone. But if you want to be a top performer, you do have to use it. Thankfully this skill can be learned, and improved over time.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts. Was/is getting comfortable on the phone a hurdle for you? What would you add/delete from my list above?

    Next Week, Two short pieces by Tony Poderis, offering his views on:
    1. The Age-Old Question About the Role of Staff in the Strategic Planning
    Process, and 2. Really Staying In-Touch With Your Donors.

    K. Michael Johnson is a major gift officer at a large research university
    and the founder of,
    where he discusses the inner game of deeper relationships and bigger asks.
    You can contact him at K. Michael Johnson.
    Have you seen
    The Fundraising Series of ebooks ??

    They’re easy to read, to the point, and inexpensive ($1.99 – $4.99)

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