One of the fastest ways to undermine your credibility and look like a yahoo (and at the same time turn off prospective clients) is using your home phone for business.
It’s such a rookie mistake! The only argument for this gaffe is that it saves money. But that isn’t actually true. It’ll cost you money if people expected to call a business and get, “Hi, you’ve reached Bob, Beth and Fluffy. We’re probably out walking Fluffy, but leave a message and we’ll call you back. Meow!”
Okay, that’s a bit extreme. But even a basic personal greeting that doesn’t reference the business says, (a) the caller got a wrong number; or (b) “I work from home in my pajamas, when I’m not out walking the dog.”
Either way it makes the “business” sound like a sham, hobby, or other half-assed venture — and that means I’d not to risk my money on it.
Here’s what you can do to improve people’s first impression when you’re connecting on the phone:
- Get a second phone line. Enough said. They are relatively inexpensive and with a different ring tone for the business line, you won’t accidentally answer after hours.
- Use a mobile phone for business. You probably have one anyway, why not make a business expense? You can redirect your calls to a land line during the day and screen calls after hours. There are lots of plans and options, find one that works for you.
- Answer the phone in a professional manner. That means identifying yourself, not saying something inane like “Yeah?” or “What’s up?” both of which scream “unprofessional!”
- Have a proper voicemail message. Let people know whether they’ve reached the right number, and when they can expect to hear back from you. I don’t leave a message if I’m not sure the right person will get it, and that can mean lost sales.