A “virtual” phone number is a telephone number that isn’t associated with a physical, hard telephone line. Instead, it uses internet telephony to direct calls to a user’s main telephone number over data lines. Virtual phone numbers are typically used by businesses to set up toll-free lines, or to operate local telephone numbers in different locations.
For example, a business located in San Francisco may wish to attract new customers from Dallas. In this case, the company would use a voice over IP service (VoIP) to purchase a telephone number with a Dallas area code. The service provider will use the internet to “point” that number to the business’s main line in San Francisco. When a customer in Dallas calls that new number, they do not incur any long distance charges, and they will not be able to tell that their call has been re-routed, even though the call is answered from California.
Businesses can also choose to purchase toll free virtual phone numbers. Toll-free numbers give customers from any location in the United States or Canada a free way to reach an agent. Companies can also purchase virtual vanity toll free numbers. Vanity numbers, such as 1-800-GOT-JUNK, spell out words or phrases to help brand an organization and improve customer recall.
Using Local Phone Numbers to Generate Leads
Expanding a business into new geographic territories can be costly. Companies must create a local presence in order to manage new customers and generate leads. In some cases, this means putting salespeople on the ground. In all cases, this means ramping up marketing and advertising efforts in that location. The remote sales team may work out of hotels, or the company may choose to lease out office space. But the strategic use of virtual phone numbers can cut expansion costs and ease the transition into new markets.
All a business needs to do in order to test a new market is to purchase a local, virtual number within that area code and route it to their main sales line. The number can be added to all advertising and marketing materials scheduled to go out in that location. Interested potential customers in that market will call the local line, and calls will be answered by a salesperson at headquarters.
But why bother? Why not just advertise your main line? A virtual local number can help establish a presence, without the need for a physical office space. Customers will feel comfortable with a local telephone number. They’ll be far more likely to call a business they don’t know if that company has a local area code. Trying to convince customers to dial a strange area code could be an uphill battle.
As this new customer base grows, it may be necessary to send employees to that area, but a virtual phone number can be an organization’s “advance team,” helping companies test the waters and connect with a strong base before committing to a new business location.
Using Toll Free Numbers to Generate Leads
Toll free virtual phone numbers can also be useful to help a growing company generate new leads. These numbers help establish trust with potential new customers. Over the years, consumers have been taught to trust businesses with toll free telephone numbers. They associate the toll free prefix with large organizations and teams of customer service reps. But thanks to internet telephony, even solopreneurs can purchase toll free virtual numbers, helping them create an image of a large organization.
And many companies choose to brand themselves with vanity toll free numbers. When you use your phone number to spell out words and phrases, it improves customer recall and makes print and broadcast ads more effective. Potential new clients will be able to remember 1-800-LOANS4U much more easily than 1-800-562-6748.
How Can Your Business Get a Virtual Phone Number?
VoIP has given companies easy access to virtual telephone numbers. All an interested business needs to do is contact a virtual telephone provider. Together they can choose toll free numbers or local numbers in any location. There is no hardware required to add new lines, and service can be connected in a matter of minutes.
The costs for virtual telephone numbers are extremely low, and many businesses choose to both local and toll-free numbers to help them brand their business, generate new leads, and create a solid foundation for growth.