phoneWith a mobile phone in your hand, the task of choosing a phone system might seem unnecessary in the early stages of your business, but it’s actually very important. The telephone is still the preferred method of customer service in the United States. The calls you miss are as important as the ones you take, and a phone system will allow you to convert missed opportunities into sales conversions.

A professional image will make or break your early sales efforts. No other investment may be as critical to the future of your business as the image you present to those who call you.

Wading through the clutter of new technologies, hardware and software is often the hardest part of securing a small business phone system. Here, we’ll help you make the transition from personal mobile to small business system:

You don’t need expensive equipment.

Use any phone you already have (including your mobile). Cloud telephony has advanced to the point that call quality and capabilities exceed traditional land line and on-premise phone systems. Choose a virtual PBX system that can be set-up to route calls to the phone numbers you already have, whether landline or mobile.

You don’t need an office.                                                         

Using a cloud hosted service, your calls can be routed to any phone numbers, using any device your employees currently use. Use a main business phone and auto-attendant to direct calls to your team on any phone, no matter where they are. Virtual PBX systems also route your faxes and voicemails to your email, so you can manage your communications from any mobile device or desktop computer. Running a business no longer requires paying rent.

Set-up only takes 5 minutes — really.

Without dedicated equipment and physical cords, set-up can be done within minutes online with most phone system companies. Choose your number, route your calls, and record a voicemail. Better yet, most hosted phone system providers will do all of this for you, with professional voice talent to record your voicemail greeting, a dreaded task for many small businesses.

You never have to listen to a voicemail again.

Gone are the days of note taking and listening to messages. Choose a system with voice-to-text transcription, so that your voice messages are sent to your email in transcribed format. This allows you to view and prioritize all incoming messages in real-time.

Voicemail is vital to your sales cycle.

Virtual PBX voicemail systems have advanced well beyond merely offering callers recorded voicemail options or simple transfers. The system can route your calls based on custom algorithms. Send key clients straight to your cell phone, or automate a text message reply to your caller with a link to the information they inquired about. CRM integration allows you to track the effectiveness of your advertising spend both on and offline.

Technology will always change and evolve, but the most important sales are still made between two people — answering the phone is vital during the early days of your business, and new systems allow you to sound bigger without expensive overhead.

John Kinskey is the founder and President of AccessDirect. Since 1997, AccessDirect has been providing affordable Virtual PBX phone systems from its offices in Kansas City to businesses of all sizes across the country. An emerging thought leader in small business strategy, John has been referenced by Small Business Opportunities magazine, CareerBuilder, Thinking Bigger Magazine, and TechCocktail.