Cold-Call Without Cold Feet

15 Feb

A few years ago I worked at my university as a fund raiser.  I know it’s supposed to be “fundraiser”, but that makes it seem as if I was the purpose for the fundraising event although at times I wish that were the case (I even thought of my pitch: “Would you like to donate money to help a poor ethnic college student?”)  .   Communication with donors was done purely through cold-calls.  There was no face-to-face interaction or body language to give off.  It was just me, my script, and my voice.  At first it was intimidating.  What if people yelled at me?  What if I they turned me down?  What if they hung up on me?  Yes, all three and many other negative results occurred.  However, it was through this job that I believed helped me realize how important and diverse communication is. I truly learned not only how to take rejection very well and fake laugh, but if you believe in what you’re saying others will as well.

The distinction between the callers who did well, and those who didn’t was clear from the start.  It had nothing to do with gender or age and little to do with luck.  The difference between successful fund raisers and unsuccessful ones was the script.  The ones that read right off the paper tended to do much poorer than those who had genuine conversations.   It was through those quick conversations that I became cognizant of truly how important it is to know your audience.   I wasn’t talking to the same person phone call after phone call, so why would I use the same pitch for each?  I simply couldn’t.  If I wanted these potential donors to genuinely believe what I was telling them and donate, than I needed to speak to them in their language, using their diction, while conveying my message.  My message was the same with every call, but my words weren’t and that made all the difference.


One Response to “Cold-Call Without Cold Feet”


  1. How do you make friends? « More than Words - April 1, 2011

    […] do engage them in conversations similar to the conversations I used to have when I was involved in fundraising.  I ask questions, sometimes too many, and hope I like their answers (hopefully their responses […]

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