Toll free numbers are expensive. According to this report on the Unitel Voice website, vanity toll-free numbers (those with easy to remember numbers like 1-800-FLOWERS) can potentially cost as much as $10,000 to purchase. This is not really an expense that a small business can afford.
In this article, we are going to take a look
at the reasons why small businesses should still get a toll-free number and how
they can go about procuring one.
Do small businesses really need toll-free numbers? Some marketing experts believe that having your own toll-free number helps businesses establish the kind of trust and credibility that customers have come to recognize with large businesses. Once implicit trust has been established, it becomes easier to convert a potential lead into a paying customer. In some ways then, a toll-free number pays for itself.
Another important factor to consider is that
toll-free tends to remove a thin barrier that exists in the form of calling
charge. Consequently, they tend to encourage even slightly warm prospects to
give your business a call because it’s free. This helps you increase your
inbound sales pipeline that has a dramatic effect on the top line of your
of Toll-Free Numbers
You do not have to buy a toll-free number to
use them. There are also services that help you lease numbers for your
business. Vanity number brokers can help you secure a brandable number for your
business without having to spend an exorbitant amount of money.
There are also business number renters who can
help you seek access to a generic vanity number based on geographical location.
For instance callers to a business from Houston will be redirected to a
business who have leased it for the particular location while those calling in
from another city are redirected to a business who have sought rights for this
If vanity numbers are not for you, you may
also sign up with virtual phone system providers, VoIP services and SIP trunk
Should You Choose
Quite frankly, your strategy should be based on your business objectives and what you can afford. Is your toll-free number only meant for support call requests? Or are you also looking for a virtual phone system for sales calls? Depending on your objectives, you may need to go for a phone system that can integrate with your CRM, offers concurrent calling, and so on.
Business number renters may seem like a great
deal, but might be a problem if you expand your business to new locations where
the number isn’t available. Telecom carriers provide their own toll-free number
systems, but they are often outdated and are more expensive than virtual phone
Small businesses typically have a few
constraints – they are bootstrapped and may not be able to afford large capital
on phone numbers. Also, venture backed firms tend to look at exponential growth
that makes it important to secure a phone system that is easily scalable.
From this perspective, virtual phone service
providers offer the best toll-free number system for your business. For one,
these phone lines are internet based and do not need any physical equipment.
This makes it easy to scale your business up.
Also, businesses get to own the numbers and
can port it to a provider of their choice without much hassle. Most virtual
phone system providers also come equipped with auto-attendants and
IVR facilities although the features may be limited and not always be what you
Finalizing a Provider
Once you have picked the kind of service
provider you want to go with, the last step is to pick one. There are
essentially two factors to consider – firstly, does the service provider offer
all the various features that you want for your business needs? Secondly, is
your provider scalable. While the fee for a toll-free number might seem
affordable with your current employee count, it is possible that the provider
may fail to be affordable when you scale up. Choose a provider who you can stay
with as you scale your business up.
Have you signed up for a toll-free number for
your business? Share your experiences in the comments below.
About Author: Anand Srinivasan
Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion, a suite of free business apps and resources. Their free collaboration tool has been ranked among the top 20 in its category by Capterra.