If an actual business landline or business cell phone are either beyond what you need at this moment or too expensive, a virtual phone number might suffice.
How do virtual phone numbers work?
Quite simply, a virtual phone number can be set up with a number of companies (a few outlined below) for a very low monthly charge of around ~$20 – $30 that can be set up with an auto-attendant (press 1 for sales, press 2 for service) with each option being forwarded to an existing landline or cellphone that you use.
While many of the companies offering a virtual phone number in Canada are not actually Canadian or even Canadian based, since everything is digital it doesn’t really make a difference as to where they are based.
Personally, I’ve used eVoice for many years and have set it up for many consulting clients as well, and it works like a charm.
Keep in mind that virtual phone numbers aren’t only for incoming calls, you can also use them to dial out by essentially logging into the phone system through a virtual phone on your computer or by dialing in through your cell phone and then placing your outgoing call.
It’s also worth noting that there are also online fax platforms such as CocoFax that allow you to easily and securely send faxes around the world.
Main Things To Consider When Choosing A Service Provider
- How many incoming minutes are included/what is the rate per minute
- How many outgoing minutes are included/what is the rate per minute
- If you are calling internationally, again the rates / think about the best way or area codes to use to set up the numbers
Here are some of the virtual phone number providers that have been around for a while:
- Grasshopper – Starts at $29 per month USD ($26 billed annually) for 1 phone number with 3 extensions including unlimited local calling (Current Offer: Up to $75 Off!)
- eVoice – $29.99 per month USD for 5 users, 15 toll-free or local numbers and 1,000 minutes per month
- CallHippo – Starts at $18 per month for 1 user and free incoming calls
Pros and Cons of virtual phone numbers:
- Inexpensive (relatively speaking)
- No specific hardware is required, use you’re own
- Ability to have local and toll-free numbers
- Digital voicemail (it can be emailed to you)
- Ability to update where the number forwards to in real-time (Employee leaves or your on vacation and want to adjust where sales calls forward to)
- And a cool one – Ability to have multiple phones ring at once – i.e. the number (or an option on the automated greeting, ‘press 2 for sales’) can set up to forward to and ring multiple lines at the same time – Suppose you have 2 sales guys and yourself, the phone call can ring all 3 of you at the same time and the first one to pick up will take the call – Pretty neat!
- Customer service is outsourced with many of these companies and can be difficult to deal with (usually you won’t need assistance though)
- Limited tech support – If something isn’t working on your end you’ll pretty much have to figure it out yourself
- Comfort of having a big brand behind you – This only applies to some people who may not be comfortable with having their business hinge on a phone service provided by a small virtual phone number company