A small business phone system can help a small business to operate more efficiently as well as minimize communication costs. Unfortunately, most phone systems are given little consideration when a business is first starting out. Communication with business clients and customers is essential to any successful business and should be given careful consideration before the final decision is made.There are many different options available to the business owner when looking at a small business telephone system. Most of the time, basic features are needed to conduct business on a day-to-day basis. Things such as call holding, call forwarding, music on hold, and voice mail are all basic features that most businesses use during the course of communicating with customers or clients. For this reason it is important that any system being considered has these options available.Since communication is the core of any business, considerations must be made for how the business operates and which features would be considered most important. As an example, if the business is involved in the delivery of physical products then having a way to communicate with drivers and dispatch deliveries would be important. A small business phone system in this particular case would need to include features that allow the dispatcher to communicate with the drivers as well as sales personnel and other employees scheduling deliveries. This type of system might include a feature that allows extensions to be forwarded to cellular phones so that drivers can be reached simply by calling their extensions.The above scenario is just one of many ways in which having a properly configured small business system can streamline productivity and save the company money. Larger businesses have enjoyed this advanced technology for some time and now many manufacturers are now making these features available to smaller businesses. Technology such as voice over IP and automatic call distribution are now being integrated into small business phone systems.One benefit to small businesses is having an auto attendant to route calls. With this technology in place, there is no need to have someone answering the phone simply to transfer the call to another person. The phone system can route these calls based on the last name of the person they’re trying to reach or entering the extension directly if they happen to know it. If the business does not have an operator, there are ways that the system can be set up to route calls should the caller press zero.Voice over IP technology has become the norm in telecommunications solutions. This technology allows businesses large and small to leverage their existing network for the transmission of voice communication. Phones for small business are now using this technology to allow them to have communication without boundaries. Like their larger counterparts, small businesses are taking advantage of the versatility that voice over IP provides. No longer limited to the office, employees can take their extensions with them so no matter where they’re at, they can conduct business seamlessly. Another advantage to employee mobility is that customers and clients are given one phone number. Giving a client or customer a cell phone number often results in an employee always being available whether actually at work or not. By giving a client an extension on the phone system, they will only be able to reach the employee during normal business hours. The phone system provides a voice mail where the client or customer can leave a message. During times when the employee is at work, the extension can then be forwarded to the cell phone so that the employee can be reached if he or she is out of the office.A large consideration when choosing a small business telephone system is one of supportability. Many smaller businesses do not have internal IT support. For this reason, when purchasing the phone system support should be included in the contract price. However, if the business does have internal IT support they will need to be trained on how to add extensions and provide other basic maintenance that the business needs on a day-to-day basis.Toll fraud can cost a small business lots of money before they realize that it has occurred. Security is of the utmost importance when implementing a small business phone system. Toll fraud occurs when unauthorized calls are made using the phone system and the phone lines attached to it. These calls are often made to overseas locations at the expense of the business. They often don’t realize it until they receive the bill and question the nature of the calls. Most of the time in these cases, the phone company will rarely reversed the charges. This is why it is important that the phone system be set up to minimize this risk. Additionally, a phone system should have the ability to block calls to specific parts of the world or to limit employees to making only local calls if needed.The type of circuit used for phones for small companies is typically what is called a POTS line. POTS, an acronym for “plain old telephone system” is a single phone line identical to what you would see in a typical home setting. The limitation of the POTS line is that it can only handle one phone call at a time. In order for a business to receive more than one call at a time the phone company must bring in multiple POTS lines. They’re then configured in the small business telephone system as a “trunk group”. The phone system then distributes the calls to individual extensions. Due to limitations of standard phone lines, many small businesses are taking advantage of the newer technologies such as voice over IP. Since data circuits can be used for more than just voice traffic, it’s become quite appealing to even the small business owner.A business system is becoming a necessity for many small businesses. In order to compete with larger businesses, the smaller companies must appear bigger than they are. Since many consumers will often go with well-known names, smaller businesses are going to have to work harder to establish Customer confidence. When a customer calls and the call is answered in a professional manner, the customer is more confident about the potential transaction. Having a small business telephone system puts a smaller company on the same playing field as its larger competitors.
Before I started doing affiliate marketing online I was actually involved in a home based network marketing business. I learned a lot about this business and how valuable a solid lead can be in growing a business.My problem was I always wanted to go on the internet to find my leads but the business itself exploded in a “warm market” environment.Against my mentor’s recommendations I decided to try the online lead gathering approach anyway… and tried to build trust online so that I could eventually show people the real business plan and hopefully become partners with them.After a few months of work online I was getting pretty decent at capturing online leads. I thought I really was on to something big. In fact, what I really learned was that my follow-up plan for converting my leads into my business was failing and most of my leads were not interested in joining me in an offline business endeavour.What I began to realize was I was good at getting leads online but was having trouble converting them in a warm market business. I was able to convert them on other things which made me focus more on the affiliate side of things and I started to lose focus on my original business. This is because I was actually starting to see money come in from my online leads.I no longer do network marketing, but I do believe it is an excellent business model, and in fact sometimes I think back and wonder if I made a mistake in leaving that offline business to start working online.My mentor really taught me a lot about business and personal relationships, and I have starting using some of his philosophies when structuring my own online marketing campaigns in a way to stimulate long-term growth, and residual income.So, with all that in mind, understand that I learned a whole lot from my online approach to capturing business opportunity leads.. and this post is going to explain some of the things I learnedGathering Business Opportunity Leads Online – What I LearnedGathering qualified leads online can be tricky, but many people find it a necessary step they must take. With your own list of leads you can continue to promote your own business opportunity, your own products, or continue to market affiliate products and offers to your list well into the future.Business opportunities is one of the most competitive niches online. You can even narrow this niche down to “home business opportunities” which still gets millions of searches around the world every day. People searching for home business opportunities are very valuable leads for several reasons.If you do a typical search for home business you will find hundreds or thousands of people advertising the next great opportunity, and millions or even billions of blogs around the globe pumping out daily content in this niche.Many of these site owners have done nothing more than hire a graphic designer for a few hundred bucks to create a nice website and some of them even pay people to write their blog posts for them. These sites have one goal in mind and that is to capture you as a lead and then later convert you to a customer or business partner. Many of the sites and owners promise fancy cars, and warm days at the beach, and some of them will tell you they have the answer you need to gain financial freedom.Does this sound familiar? It probably does… The actual number of these types of sites has drastically expanded in the last 10 years. There are literally billions of them – which makes it extremely expensive to advertise in this niche, and very difficult to stand out above the rest.So How Does One Generate Their Own Qualified Business Opportunity Leads Online? There are many tactical methods for generating good business opportunity leads online, but it really depends on what type of business you want to build.If you are looking to just collect emails and send people a bunch of affiliate based products related to making money then the above mentioned style of websites might be all you need, but of course you will be competing against millions of people doing the same thing.If you are one of the many people who have come online to find qualified business opportunity leads to expand your own home based business then you are probably familiar with warm markets and cold markets.For the purpose of this article warm market is people you know, which could be friends, relatives and existing customers, even referrals are said to be warm. “Cold market” refers to a sales person’s future or prospective customers.You may have a lot of experience in converting a warm market but the internet is generally a cold market environment. This does not mean you cannot turn your online leads into warm leads. It just requires a different approach to online lead generation that goes against the traditional “squeeze page” or “sales page” & affiliate approach.Below are some of the most important things you should include in your quest to build a large list of business opportunity leads, that you can convert into a warm market business.Be The “Real” You OnlineYour first step should be building a presence online that is the “real” you. That’s right. You have to come out from behind the curtain and actually post your real name and photo online.Many people who start a home business will come online and try to keep their identity hidden because they don’t want their friends, current employers, or family to see they are doing this. This will NOT work for you if you want to build a relationship with your leads.You must get over your fears and create your online profile.To do this you should develop your own blog (WordPress is easiest), which can contain anything you want and can be business related. On this blog you can post your daily thoughts, business tips, quotes, information about yourself… etc. You will want your blog to link to all of the following.
A Twitter Account
A Facebook Profile
A Facebook Fan Page or Business Page
A Facebook Like Box on Your Blog (Very important for building trust – it shows how many people like you on Facebook.)
A Private Facebook Group
A Linkedin Profile
Facebook Comments – this is a cool way to link your blog to Facebook and every time someone comments on your post it goes on their Facebook news feed.
A Professional Lead Capture ApproachYou will want to have a squeeze page or a form on your blog where people can actually enter their emails or contact details, or can contact you directly. You can set up a form on your blog to collect whatever information you want from your leads and even allow people to send you a message. the form is designed to prevent spam. This can be done on WordPress blogs by using a free plugin like WordPress Contact 7.You can also encourage them to join your email list for exclusive updates, industry news, events, or a free ebook. This can be easily done using a service like Aweber which stores email addresses for you and costs about $20 a month.Whatever you think your readers would find valuable you can offer to them as an incentive to join your list. Aweber will store all your emails in a safe place and allow you to send emails easily and automatically if you wish.You might want to steer clear of looking too promotional on your lead capture page and in your messaging. Avoid typical marketing images showing material possessions, and over use of exclamation points. You really need to separate yourself and look professional here in order to keep this people from clicking on the “back” button before they even subscribe.Most people who are joining your list will be people you have met online or in person and you have already told them to visit your blog. These people will also be referred by friends and family, so you probably don’t want to look like a “shady” salesperson.Become Involved To build a following that will trust you, you need to be interactive online. This means you need to update your blog regularly and update your twitter, your Facebook etc. You need to build a following and show them you are the real deal, and you are available to talk at any time. If your leads believe you are there and available, they will be more likely to convert.Save Time With SyndicationYou can update all of your online accounts automatically just by setting your blog up to syndicate the content to other places. If you build your blog in a way that facilitates automatic publication onto social media outlets then you can save a ton of time. For example, you can install the auto tweet plugin so that all your new blog posts are automatically tweeted to all your followers. The same goes for Facebook Page Publish plugin.Make sure that at the bottom of all your posts you remind people to join your email list or fill in your contact form! People will follow your instructions – all you have to do is tell them. You will want to give them an incentive to do so.You can also syndicate your content to other popular blogs and websites in your industry if they exist. All you need to do is content the site owners and ask them if they wish to post your content. Many of them will if you have a solid reputation and this will generate traffic to your site.Generate Traffic There are several ways you can generate traffic to your site. Paid traffic is the fastest form of traffic online. Facebook allows you to buy traffic and target specific interests and hobbies. It can be effective, but very expensive.If you are going to pay for traffic you need to calculate your cost per acquisition or CPA and you need to know the value of 1 lead to your business. This will determine whether it is worth the investment in buying traffic.You also have to have an end goal in mind on how you are going to get the paid clicks to convert into an email lead and how you will then convert that email lead into an actual business partner. This is the most difficult part of the process for most people.What is the Cost Per acquisition? In my experience online using squeeze pages, for every 100 clicks you buy you should convert at least 30 – 40% or more into email leads. So if you pay 40 cents per click it will cost you $40 for 40 leads. ($1 per lead)I found with a few tweaks and some cheaper traffic I could acquire email leads for 0.50 cents or less.You could also pay-per-click on places like Bing Ads or Google Adwords which may be a bit cheaper than Facebook.Once you become more involved and post more blog content you will start seeing a trickle of free traffic. Another trick is to build a viral video or viral content that will be shared among people on social media sites. Make sure it is linked back to your site.Every time you post new content you should also be sending it to all your other social media accounts and your subscribers. You will find that as you gather more and more leads and continue to build more solid content on your blog that your traffic will increase exponentially since many of your existing leads will share your content through Facebook and Twitter.You can also set up new business cards with your blog address, and do some offline promotion including radio ads, flyers, classifieds etc.Email or Contact Follow Up How you follow-up with your leads is the most important part of all your efforts.Business opportunity leads generally convert better if you “warm” them up first. So you should treat the people you meet online the same as you would treat people in person, or even your friends and family. Steer clear from lengthy automated email follow ups and salesy tactics. You need to build trust and give them what they are looking for.A couple automated welcome messages may be OK, but you really should try to eventually get these leads on the phone or use a tool like Skype which allows you to have a face to face conversation with someone.If you have a pre-formatted presentation or “plan” you need to show them, you should not do this on auto pilot – (for example with automated emails).You should call them and arrange a meeting time and have them watch the plan or presentation. Then follow-up immediately by phone or Skype. Be prepared to sign them up or have them purchase your product at that point. This will drastically improve your conversion rates for your business opportunity leads that you collect online.Affiliate Approach If you are an affiliate looking to make money from your leads, then an automated follow-up sequence on Aweber may work better for you. There are several legitimate business opportunities that have affiliate programs and convert well with this type of marketing approach.Regardless of how you want to build your business in this niche, you are definitely at a huge advantage if you collect your own business opportunity leads first before giving them to other companies.Hopefully this article will help you separate yourself from the rest and build a strong team of qualified business opportunity leads from the internet.
Don’t allow the success of your affiliate business to be foiled by seemingly harmless habits or oversights. Getting involved in an online business may at times seem overwhelming to you. Other times it may appear little or no effort is needed due to the ‘automation’ of the internet. Remember to keep your eyes open and realize this is a business based upon LOGIC that just happens to use the internet.TAKE ACTIONThe internet is a dynamic environment that requires the need for continual learning.
Know this, accept this, and embrace this as an ongoing part of your involvement in the internet marketing world.This ongoing education can be conducted through research, forums, ebooks, conferences, etc. Plug into these channels and use this education to advance yourself and your business.An important note here however is that you DON’T want to get so caught up in your learning that your internet marketing efforts come to a standstill. Make time for both but never stop managing or implementing your active online marketing tasks for extended periods.Beware of this trap which could easily lead to analysis paralysis!YOU’VE GOT A WEBSITE, NOW WHAT!You will of course want to build your own website on which your visitors will land first. From this point you’ll send them to the affiliate site where they will hopefully read the compelling sales copy and make the purchase.With this said do not forget that you will also have to make people aware of your site. This stage is integral to your success online so you’ll need to determine what traffic generation methods you’ll want to use.The best suggestion here is to choose 3 or 4 methods you’re comfortable with but always try new methods if they look promising to you. By using multiple methods simultaneously you’re ensuring a broader spectrum of potential visitors will be targeted.’INTRODUCE’ PRODUCTS – DON’T ‘SELL’ THEMThe website you build will serve two purposes only so focus on them. The first purpose will be to ‘introduce’ the visitor to the benefits of the product you’re marketing. Now here is where you want to use more tact and less salesmanship. What we’re doing here is enticing your visitor with some ‘what if’, ‘how about’, or maybe ‘just image’ to engage their curiosity and get them in a buying mood. Do not HARD sell on this site!Remember that the main affiliate product site will do the ‘hard ‘selling for you so don’t push or pitch the product on your site.Now let’s discuss the 2nd purpose of your site.COLLECT NAMES – You’ll Be Glad You DidHave a location on your site to capture the contact information of your visitors. List building is right up there with traffic generation regarding the most important components of your business.Since these visitors have already shown an interest in your product it stands to reason that they may have an interest in a similar product you may offer in the future. Contacting former visitors is far easier than finding new ones. Eventually your list building efforts will significantly expand your affiliate marketing business at an accelerated pace.DON’T BECOME COMPLACENTOnce your up and rolling with traffic flowing and commissions being paid avoid the temptation to let up and relax. Capture this momentum and take advantage of it to build your online business at an accelerated pace. Build on what is now working and review, fix or discard what is not.When in doubt seek out answers to your questions. With so many channels available to gain the needed information, it doesn’t make sense to allow your business to slow or suffer due to a lingering unanswered question.BE MINDFUL of YOUR REPUTATIONIn the affiliate marketing business products always change but your name won’t. Don’t risk your reputation by associating with questionable products, tactics, or people.DON’T GIVE UPThe success of your affiliate business will ultimately be determined by your reluctance to give in. If certain situations are lost causes learn from them and move on, but don’t throw in the towel just because more effort or learning may be needed to succeed in that particular instance. Remember defeat comes only AFTER you quit!