Andrew may have already met the polling requirements to qualify for the Fall debates. But if we want that momentum to continue all the way to the primaries in February, we need to be relentless with our phone calling.
What is phone banking?
Phone banking is when volunteers all over the country make phone calls on behalf of a cause or a candidate. We are calling on behalf of Andrew Yang and his bid for the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States. There are two types of phone calls planned for this campaign: Voter ID calls and persuasion calls. Voter ID calls, which is what we're doing now at this stage of the race, are calls meant to accomplish two things:
- Identify people who might consider voting for Andrew Yang in the upcoming Democratic primaries.
- Increase name recognition for Andrew Yang in crucial battleground states.
Note that neither of these goals includes trying to convince the other person to support Andrew Yang. After collecting information on who might consider voting for Andrew Yang, a round of "persuasion calls" will be made to these people closer to the primary election date.
When making voter ID calls, you will have an interactive script guiding you through what to say and ask. As the call progresses, you will ask different questions and record the other person's answers. Your objective is to talk to as many people as possible and answer the questions in the script. The purpose of these calls is not persuasion. That said, you are welcome to add a little bit of persuasion to your call, particularly if your gut tells you that the person on the other end might be open to learning more about Andrew Yang. Some of the best calls are the ones where you get to witness first-hand someone discover Andrew Yang over the phone; it doesn't always happen, but when it does, it's a magical feeling. Always be polite, don't be too curt or pushy, and try to get through the questions in the script.
How to get started
There are three ways to get started phone banking:
Phone banking from home
Make calls from home is the most efficient way to support Andrew Yang. Everyone has different time constraints but calling from home allows you to slip some phone calls here and there as your schedule permits. Open our Dallas Yang Gang welcome letter and read the section about phone banking to learn how to get started.
Joining a phone party
Making calls is easy. But it can also be daunting, especially if you've never done it before. Joining a phone banking party is a great way to break the ice and get started making calls. It also provides an opportunity for volunteers to practice going through the script with each other so that they can get warmed up before jumping into the dialer.
The Dallas Yang Gang has a weekly phone banking party every Wednesday from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm inside the UTD Eugene McDermott Library. We usually meet in the Rio Grande room on the third level.
Hosting a phone banking party
With so many volunteers across the metroplex, hosting a party is a great way to allow more people to take part in phone banking. Read the official guide for hosting your phone banking party.
Remember that it's a numbers game
Once you start making calls, you'll quickly learn what most people experience, which is that most of the time, you won't be able to talk to anyone. Most people will quickly hang up or not answer. A lot of people will refuse to speak, or the person you're trying to talk to is not available. If you don't have the right expectations, it may feel disappointing at first. Despite this, it helps always to remember that this is a numbers game. Every dismissive call you make brings you one step closer to a positive call, where you will introduce someone to Andrew Yang for the first time, and they'll seriously consider him as a candidate. Here are two more things to remember:
Because of caller ID, the act of calling alone introduces the recipient to Andrew Yang
When someone receives a call from us, they will see "Andrew Yang" in the caller ID. So even if the other person decides not to talk to you at that moment, they will have seen who was calling, and Andrew Yang's name gets planted in their brain. The opening line of the script where you introduce yourself as a volunteer of the "Andrew Yang campaign" plants the seed even further. So, don't feel bad if someone quickly hangs up on you – know that even that person is now exposed to Yang2020.
Even if the other person is not receptive now, they might have a change in heart later in the race
One typical response you'll receive is that it's "too early to be thinking about the election." For them, that may be true now. But when the time is ripe for them to start taking the primary election seriously, they will begin racking their brain for candidates to support. That's why planting the seed of Andrew Yang early-on is so essential. Making calls and introducing people to the campaign now sets the foundation for persuasion in the future.
Tips for a good phone banking experience
Here are some tips to keep in mind when making phone calls.
Tip #1: Remember to smile and be polite and pleasant
Even though the other person can't see you, they can hear your smile through the phone. Wearing a slight grin affects the tone in your voice, which will be felt by the person you are calling.
Tip #2: Speak slowly and clearly
Most of the people we're calling are old – often between 60 and 80 years old. It's often tempting to read through the script at a fast pace; the problem is that the rapid speed combined, combined with the loss in audio quality over the phone, combined with the old age of the recipient makes it very difficult to hear what you are saying. Try to avoid mumbling and slurring your speech; imagine how you would talk to your own Grandma!
Tip #3: Freestyle a little bit; follow your gut
After you've had a decent amount of experience following the script, try using your own words to ask the questions. The result is it'll feel more natural for you and less robotic for the other person. People are more likely to stay on the line if they sense they're not talking to a robot.
Tip #4: Try asking "how are you" to make the other person feel comfortable
You need to trust your instincts on this one. If I call someone, and I sense trepidation in their voice, I'll often ease the tension by first asking, "how are you?" It's a simple gesture, but it accomplishes two things. First, it proves you're a human being and not a robot. Second, it communicates to the other person that I'm not just calling to make them listen to me, but I'm going to listen to them back.
I recommend doing this if your gut tells you you're not about to get hung up on right away. When people ask, "what do you want?" or "why are you calling?" that's a sign I need to cut to the chase: "I'm just calling quickly to see if you plan on supporting anyone for President in the next election?"
Signs that it's a good idea to ask, "how are you?":
- When you ask "Is [name] available?" and they respond, "this is he/she" or "speaking."
- When they ask, "who is this?"
- They're voice doesn't sound like they are in a hurry
Tip #5: Find a way to keep the conversation going if you got the right number but the wrong person
If someone answers the phone and says that the person I'm looking for is unavailable, I ask, "Is this the wrong number or is ____ just not available right now?" If it's the wrong number entirely, I record the correct term code ("do not call") and move on. However, if I got the right number but the wrong person (e.g., the script has me calling the husband but I got the wife instead) I'll pivot to "oh, I'm calling for anyone in the household, so if this is the right number I can talk to you. Do you have a moment to talk about the election?" Surprisingly, this works half the time. I can continue with the rest of the script after that. You don't always connect with someone willing to talk; when you do find someone, don't let them go just because they're not the exact person you were initially looking for.
Tip #6: Practice and use your own 30-second pitch
There's a part in the script where you introduce the other person to Andrew Yang. If I'm perfectly honest, I'm personally not a big fan of the standard Andrew Yang pitch. In any case, you'll come across a lot better if you speak from the heart; this means coming up with your own 30-second pitch for Andrew Yang. I recommend practicing different spiels in real life and seeing what works for you. You can also practice with other volunteers at a phone banking party! Once you've found a spiel that works for you, use that instead of the official pitch. Not only will you be more convincing, but you'll feel and sound more confident to the other person.
Whether you come up with your pitch entirely or you copy someone else's, what's important is that you make it your own, to the point where you can quickly recite it at the drop of a hat. Here's what I typically say:
"Andrew Yang was recognized by the Obama White House for his work, starting 800 businesses in cities like Detroit, Baltimore, and St. Louis. His flagship policy is a deeply American idea supported by Martin Luther King, Thomas Paine, Milton Friedman, and a thousand economists. It's a form of Universal Basic Income that we call the Freedom Dividend, where every American citizen above the age of 18 receives $1,000 a month to spend on anything they need: food, clothing, housing, car repairs. Economists predict it will lift millions out of poverty, create 4 million new jobs, and increase GDP by 2 trillion dollars."
Tip #7: Before giving your spiel, ask, "Have you heard of Andrew Yang?"
This question is something I firmly believe should be in the script. Before launching into your spiel, ask, "have you heard of Andrew Yang?" This line allows you to gauge how much the person already knows; you can adjust your spiel based on their answer. It also clearly established who you're calling for. A lot of times, a caller will launch straight into the spiel, only for the other person to say, "who are you talking about again?" And just as with tip #4, it communicates that you're willing to listen.
Tip #8: Always plug "Yang2020.com" before answering questions
First of all, if you don't know the answer to something, or you don't have the right answer ready off-hand, always be honest up-front and say "That's a great question. I don't have an answer to that, but I recommend going to Yang2020.com. You'll find what you're looking for there." Don't try to make up an answer on the fly. That can backfire.
If you do have a ready answer for their question, make sure to plug the website before answering. I like to say "That's a great question. Before I answer, I want you to know that you can find answers to all your questions on Yang2020.com." That way, if for whatever reason your answer is cut short, at least you'll have provided a resource for them to do their research. If you're lucky enough to call someone who likes to ask questions, always remember to plug Yang2020.com every chance you get. Every time you say it is another seed planted in the other person's mind.
Tip #9: Always thank the other person for talking with you; if you can get through the end of the script, really butter them up with thanks (they deserve it!)
I love having a complete conversation. Even if they don't indicate that they'll consider Andrew Yang, it makes me very happy to talk to someone kind enough to let me give my whole spiel. When that happens to you, make sure to express that gratitude. It's always a good idea to make other people feel important; any good rapport you build subconsciously builds good rapport for Andrew. One of my go-to lines is to tell the other person "you're one of the most pleasant people I've talked to all night. Thank you!" Of course, I say it because it's true; anyone who takes the time to talk to me is pleasant!
Tip #10: Keep calm, have fun, and carry on!
As we said in the beginning, remember that it's a numbers game. Most of the calls you make will be duds. At a phone party, share your stories of good and bad experiences with other volunteers. Exchange tips and tricks at a party, over Slack, or on Facebook. Remember that every single call you make matters, even the hang-ups!
What are your ideas?
Do you agree or disagree with the tips in this article? Have tips of your own to share? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts and feedback. Maybe we'll make a part 2!
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Make sure to follow "DFW for Yang "on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you want to get involved, read our Dallas Yang Gang welcome letter.
So, what are you waiting for? Start making calls!