If you’re a solo entrepreneur or home-based business owner, you’re undoubtedly looking for ways to keep expenses down, especially if you’re just getting started. One easy way to do this is to use your cell phone number as your business line.
By using your cell phone for business purposes, you can avoid the costs of establishing a new number or purchasing additional telephone equipment, and you can maintain an open line of communication with your customers and partners. Since many of us don’t work a typical 9-5 in the same location, cell phones tend to be more suitable to our needs.
The tips below are designed to help you utilize a cell phone for your business without sacrificing professionalism. While it is more affordable and convenient to use a cell phone, it can also have a negative impact on your business if used haphazardly. Following these tips will ensure you are in the clear.
1. Record a professional voicemail greeting in the name of your business
One downside to using your cell phone for business purposes is that you have to use it for personal calls as well. Because of this, you may be tempted to use a default voicemail greeting or an ambiguous message that fits both personal and business callers. Don’t do this.
Unless you’re a solo consultant operating under your own name, your voicemail greeting should be in the name of your company. “Thank you for calling XYZ Consulting. Sorry we’re unable to take your call…”
Personal callers will likely know you run a business, so they’ll be unaffected by this. Business callers will think they’re reaching an established company and feel more comfortable leaving a message.
2. Answer calls in a friendly, consistent manner
The conflict between your business and personal life arises again here, and again business needs should trump personal ones. While I could care less if my best friend hears me answer the phone in the name of my company, I would be horrified if I answered with “What’s up?!” and it was a potential client.
It also isn’t very professional to answer differently each time, so think of a standard greeting and stick with it. “XYZ Consulting, this is Gere” works just fine.
With caller ID you’ll often recognize the number, so in those instances you can obviously vary your greeting. But if you’re unsure who’s calling, assume it’s a business call and use your professional greeting.
3. If you can’t talk, don’t answer
This tip applies to business and personal calls alike, though the stakes are raised substantially when it comes to business. You can tell a buddy that you’ll call him right back when you’re in the bathroom, but a customer may be offended.
If you aren’t in the position to talk, or if your surroundings are noisy or distracting, let the call go to voicemail. When you’re somewhere you can focus and avoid background noise, listen to the voicemail and return the call.
4. Script out your most common call types; be prepared
This practice is important whether you’re using a cell phone or not. If your business is receiving telephone calls, you need to be organized and ready to handle them. Just like a call center has specific procedures for handling different call types, you need to know in advance how each call will be approached.
The reason for this step is obvious: if you don’t have a procedure for handling common call types, you will come off as inexperienced. You need to instill confidence and establish yourself as a professional.
For example, if you’re a freelance web designer and potential clients are calling to inquire about your services, you need to have your pitch memorized. What are you key selling points? What are the next steps if someone wants to move forward? Will you quote them over the phone or follow up via email? There are a lot of details that need fleshed out.
This process needs completed for each common scenario. Much of it has to do with establishing your internal business processes and adapting them for use on the telephone. Once you have determined how different processes are handled, answering calls will be an automatic process.
These tips are easy to implement and will hopefully go a long way to helping you maintain a professional image on a budget. If you have an experience using your cell phone for business purposes, or a tip I may be missing, feel free to share in the comments.