Listen to This

Posted on 10/26/2016


There are certain attributes to look for when searching for phonathon callers. Whether you’re hiring paid students or recruiting volunteers, you’ll want callers who are personable, articulate, informed, assertive, trustworthy and, of course, comfortable talking about and asking for money. Needless to say, good phonathon callers can be hard to find.

There’s another attribute that, although important, is frequently overlooked. More often than not, really good callers are really good listeners.

Listening doesn’t always come naturally, so make it part of the training process. Teach callers how to ask probing questions and offer guidelines for keeping their own talking to a minimum. Remind callers that they are in an advantageous position to hear how prospects feel about the institution, what interests them, who influences them, what they’re doing in their careers, and why they’ve decided to support (or not to support) the institution. If they’re speaking more than 30% of the time, it’s probably not a great call.

And it’s not just your callers who should be focused on listening. You should be listening too. Not in terms of monitoring calls, although doing so can be an effective way to evaluate performance. No, we’re talking about listening to your callers as a way to better understand and learn about your donors and prospective donors. Without listening, potentially valuable donor information is likely to – at best – get recorded in a contact report and stored in your database, where it typically remains, unread and unused.

Phonathon callers can learn from listening to institution staff, too. Invite leaders from around campus (e.g., faculty, coaches, administrators) to talk with them before shifts or during orientations. This will help callers become better informed and prepare them to engage prospects in more interesting discussions.

There’s real value in listening. Make a point of listening to your callers. Teach them how to listen. It’s as important a skill as any to contribute to the success of your phonathon program.

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE for AGN’s Webinar on Training Exceptional Student Callers.