We’re far from perfect here at We’ve been known to make a few goofs now and then. But one thing we have going for us is any mistake we make, we write about it. Most small businesses don’t get a “mulligan.” So here is a list of a few mistakes to avoid when choosing, or dealing with, a VoIP provider. Some of these we’ve made, and some of these we’ve only read about. We won’t tell you which!

Don’t Hang up on the Sales Department With Either You or Them Confused
It sounds so basic when you break it down: Talk slowly, take notes, have questions handy, don’t feel pressured to make a decision on the first call. But the fact is, big mistakes can happen because of simple things. If a sales rep doesn’t understand your particular concerns, he might just go ahead and give you the standard package. If you need something besides the standard package, be sure you both understand that. It just may be the case that the thing you want isn’t available anymore. Just ask. And ask again if you need to. If you don’t get what you want, at least understand what you’re getting.

Review the Contract Before You Send It In (Not After!)
Review a contract with at least one person. If you’re a sole proprietor, review it with a friend. Heck, read it out loud to your dog if you have to, but no matter how short or long that fine print is, be sure not just to read it, but to make sure you understand it well enough to explain it to someone else. It’s unlikely that there’s nefarious hidden in the small print, but, again, small mistakes can lead to big disasters. It can be the difference between “waived” and “free,” or the difference between “pre-pay” and “contract length.” Or it could be a big mistake, like the difference between a $150 fee and a $150 monthly fee.

Understand the Technology You Need to Understand
Think fast! Do you know the difference between hosted VoIP and SIP Trunking? It’s ok if you don’t. That’s our job. But whatever it is you’re getting, be sure to understand it. A certain provider may not give out their SIP credentials. That may make a difference, or it may have no bearing on how you’ll use their phones or their desktop/web client. Do you need G729 or G711? Don’t worry, your VoIP provider can run tests to determine the best codec for your office. But, you need to know the basics. Review our library to know about find me/follow me, call transfer, and other important features. Peruse our blog to learn about things like CLECs, and Private Networks.Post It Note

Don’t Just Base Your Decision on Which Provider Gives You the Lowest Quote or Fanciest Features
One of the best things about VoIP is the low prices. But low prices are, as we frequently mention, only the beginning. There are desktop clients, web-clients, softphones, compatibility requirements, and a host of other ways, large and small, that can affect your decision. There is no one best, or even one cheapest VoIP provider, because the pricing model of VoIP is so different than traditional pricing models. Most VoIP providers have UCC tools that will add to your bottom line. Take advantage of them, but again, be measured; expensive features are worth nothing if no one understands how to use them.

Make Sure Your Office Can Handle The Extra Work When Productivity Goes Up
On the surface, it sounds a little silly. Does VoIP really add that much creativity? Well, do this test: Take out a desk phone and dial a number. Now call that same number on a speed dial. You can use your cell phone, hit redial, or any other technique. Those thirty seconds may sound trivial, but when you add it up across an entire office, those seconds spent listening to voicemails, looking up people’s number, calling empty desks, it all adds up. So once you’re on the right track, then what? Will your network bandwidth need an upgrade? Will you be needing extra help? Or will you just need new wax to twist your mustache maniacally while you count all your money? (I’m betting it’s not the last one, but you never know.)

BYOD is Not Always a Great ROI
Bring Your Own Device has advantages and disadvantages, to be sure. One biggest hazard is that you may end up with a $200 paperweight because your new provider won’t support the IP phone you already have.

Properly Configure Your e911, Your Failover Number/Data Provider, and Any Other Disaster Recovery Tool
Some VoIP providers won’t even let you configure call rules until you first configure your e911. Don’t get lazy, and don’t put it off. Whether it’s your personal data or your personal safety, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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Big Questions to Ask Before Choosing a VoIP Provider for Your SMB
Advantages and Disadvantages to VoIP