On the Call – Sell to Your Elected Officials


Congratulations! You wrote your letters, you followed up, and you achieved the “sale” of a call with your elected official. What can you do to prepare? Here are my six steps to success.

Step One: Gather Statistics

Memorize the statistics about the industry and your company. Be able to let those facts roll off your tongue. I gathered my statistics from the American Bus Association  and from the Travel Federation of Iowa. And, if you are like me, you know your company inside and out. 

Your company statistics are just as important.

  • How long have you been in business?
  • How many employees do you have?
  • Who are your clients?
  • What is your annual revenue?
  • What is the impact COVID-19 has had on all of the above?

Step Two: Make a Cheat Sheet

Did you ever create a cheat sheet for studying? Remember how you didn’t need the cheat sheet once you wrote it all down? Remember how great it felt when you found out you got to USE the cheat sheet? Well, now you get to create and use a cheat sheet.

  • Write down important statistics.
  • Write down your key points. 
  • Write down your ask. 

Writing this down and having it in front of you prepares you for the unexpected case of nerves that robs your brain of functioning. When you can glance down at your prepared notes, you no longer need to rely on memory.

Step Three: Remember Your Manners

We have become a society of familiarization. Many times we forgo the use of titles and last names. While this is acceptable in many scenarios, a call with your elected official is not one of them. Use their title and their last name (Congressman/Congresswoman Smith or Senator Smith). Please and thank you are always impressive.  

When I taught, I had a bulletin board with a clown and a graduate. The speech bubble for the clown used proper English and polite language. The speech bubble for the graduate was the exact opposite. You may look like a clown, but you do not have to sound like one – and you can look intelligent, but sound ignorant. They are not going to see you on this call, please sound intelligent, keeping your language “gray”. Now is not the time for colorful words that would make your grandmother shake her finger at you.

Step Four: Ask Questions

In any good conversation, there is a back and forth of dialogue. Yes, we are calling upon them to listen to us, but we also need to listen to them. Remember, we are not the only ones reaching out for their attention.We are after a partner in D.C. A true partnership goes both ways. 

Here are some questions you can ask:

  • What information do you need from me?
  • What can I do to further this cause?
  • What is Congress doing to assist businesses like mine?
  • What are you hearing from your other constituents?

Step Five: Stay on Track

If you find yourself going off track, admit it, and get back on the right path. One call I had was right after I received more bad news. My mind was reeling, I was having a hard time focusing. Thankfully, my husband was also on the call. As I was rambling on, I stopped, apologized for my lack of focus, explained why my brain was mush, and let John take it over. While I didn’t feel “strong” in this call, my vulnerability being seen was part of our story. We all have moments of weakness. Do not deny them. (And this is the very reason for Step 2: Make a Cheat Sheet!)

Step Six: Remember Your Manners

Yes, it is worth repeating. Wrap up the call highlighting the most important points. The ones you made, and the ones your elected official made. Ask your ask. Thank them for their time. 

This is the final impression they will have of you. Make it a positive, lasting one. 

Kim Grzywacz, CTIS

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