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Hosted Voice Systems: Efficient, Inexpensive
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By Siamak Taghaddos

A hot prospect calls to gather more information about your business, but you’re away from the office and the potential customer gets bounced from one answering machine to the next, unable to reach a live person. Eventually, the caller hangs up, never to be heard from again. A potential sale is lost.

The lesson? The way a customer perceives you and your business starts on the first ring, particularly if you are a small business, a home-based business or a mobile professional.

Unfortunately, many small companies often lack the capital for a professional communications solution to effectively compete with larger competitors that own expensive, well-maintained telecommunications equipment. Until recently, the only option for a small business was the basic voicemail system offered by the local phone company. Unfortunately, these often are limited services that can just as easily create an unprofessional image and hinder a small business’ ability to attract new customers as an outdated answering machine.

Seeing this small business service void, a number of companies have developed affordable outsourced, or “hosted,” voice communications solutions. Such systems typically offer advanced voicemail, auto-attendants and call forwarding functions that delivers the image, productivity, and professionalism of a large corporate telecommunications system. With no hardware or software to purchase, a hosted telecommunications service--also known as a “virtual PBX”--allows small businesses to focus on their core competencies, while keeping their communications costs to a minimum.

Is A Hosted System Right For You?

But is outsourcing the right choice for your small- or home-based business? Here are a few things to consider.

A small business should first examine the image it wants to portray. Do you differentiate yourself by highlighting the personal service you can give as a “small fish in a big pond,” or are you struggling to look like a national or global player in the market? For most small businesses, the answer to these questions lies somewhere in the middle.

In order to effectively compete, winning customer confidence is key, and a professional-sounding, hosted voice communications system can offer a competitive edge. Whether you are a one-person shop or have a geographically dispersed sales team, the ability to link employees and customers on a 24-by-7 basis promotes the professional image that can close deals and drive revenue.

Another important factor to consider is the business plan. Are you planning to expand into new markets, hire additional personnel and/or open new locations? If so, it's important to deploy a system that can support growth and maintain availability.

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Siamak Taghaddos is president and CEO of GotVMail.
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