In 2018, 61% of businesses asked were switching from traditional phones to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.
That’s right — over half of surveyed businesses were abandoning traditional phone lines for purely internet-based telephony services. In the last few years, softphone services have made VoIP technology even more flexible and accessible.
This is particularly true in the late stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more and more distributed teams needing to communicate and collaborate.
But what exactly are VoIP and softphones? Why should you invest in them?
And, for businesses using a customer relationship management platform like Salesforce, how can they connect the two?
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Softphone & Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
You’ll see these two terms used interchangeably or pitted against each other. The reality is that there are very subtle differences between the two.
What Is VoIP?
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technologies are the older of the two. This term refers to a phone connection built over the internet instead of a traditional wired connection.
You’ve likely seen businesses that use VoIP technology but still use physical phones to make and receive business calls. For those who prefer, there are still VoIP-enabled phones available for sale.
In practice, it’s nearly indistinguishable from a traditional telephone connection. However, the calls themselves are transmitted through a different technology without requiring a hard-wired landline.
What Is A Softphone?
So what does softphone refer to? Technically, the name is a portmanteau of “software” and “phone.”
But softphone applications take VoIP one step further — they don’t need a separate physical phone at all. With softphone platforms, anyone can make a call directly from a desktop, tablet, or mobile device.
Some even have video-conferencing and instant messaging functionality, which can be a blessing for internal communications. It has all the functionality of a traditional phone, bundled into a set of mobile apps you and your team can use from anywhere.
Given how distributed remote work has become in the last few years, it’s clear to see that softphone technology only helps teams do their work anywhere. They’re freed from any attachment to a particular device or landline.
There are tons of softphone providers out there. But first, let’s get into the reasons to invest in one.
Why Should You Invest in a Softphone Platform
We’ve already established that softphone and VoIP technology make sense for remote teams.
But, what are the specific benefits of going with a softphone provider?
Softphone software is incredibly location-flexible. When all you need is a computer or tablet to make a business call, there’s no need to work from the same place every single day.
Granted, you do need to have a fast and secure internet connection. But these are much more common than they were two decades ago.
Even with VoIP, companies could still opt to use physical phones. But with softphone software, those become unnecessary. All you need is an internet connection, a computer, and perhaps a good headset.
Softphone technology can also be vastly cheaper than other options.
For one, no additional hardware is needed — you can install the mobile and desktop apps on the devices you already have. This negates the need to purchase actual phones for employees who need to make calls.
Businesses using softphone software also don’t need to pay to have an office or working space wired for a phone. For those renting or setting up an office, this can be a huge expense.
With softphones, you can avoid it entirely and maybe use those savings for a secure, fast internet connection.
For a professional appearance, it’s best if you’re not constantly breaking up or having phones malfunctioning while you’re calling a client.
Many users report having a higher overall call quality with a VoIP-softphone connection. And though that may not always be the case, with softphone apps, you have more flexibility in case something does go wrong.
You can, for example, move to an area with better service or switch devices if something isn’t working.
This leads straight into the next benefit. With softphone platforms, employees can take and make calls in the way that feels most comfortable for their working style.
Whether your teams prefer to work from their mobile devices or stationary desktops, both are possible with softphone software.
Softphone software can help employees stay on top of business and customer needs without compromising their work-life separation.
For example, a sales rep won’t need to give out a personal mobile number in case of a client emergency. With a softphone app, they’ll be able to pick up and make calls from their business number on their personal device.
This also helps workers lower device clutter — not having to retain separate devices for personal and work use lightens a lot of loads.
Easy Connection with Salesforce CRM
This is one of the biggest benefits for sales team leads trying to make softphone capabilities work with call center software.
It depends on which softphone platform you choose and which CRM your business is already using. But both are software platforms running on the same systems.
This makes importing call information (recordings, transcripts, notes, logs) into your CRM much easier than it would be with a traditional phone.
For those working with call center software, this connectivity is crucial for maintaining good records and nurturing high-quality customer relationships.
Softphone extensions for Salesforce will most likely look like native or non-native apps on Salesforce’s AppExchange. When you choose a softphone provider, they’ll likely already have a developed Salesforce-compatible app.
Softphone applications’ connectivity — both to CRM systems and the internet — can save your teams a ton of time in the long run.
Most software allows you to make calls with just one click or tap from the app interface or through a connected platform like Salesforce.
The time it takes to look up and dial out a client’s number versus just clicking to call is incredibly small. However, when you add them up over multiple sales teams and frequent outbound calls, they add up to hours.
Softphone software’s CRM connectivity also saves time by letting call logs, notes, transcripts, and recordings be imported directly from the phone application to the relevant CRM record.
This will save your teams time that they’d otherwise spend parsing their notes and updating records — instead, they can just move on to the next call.
For fast-growing teams, investing in softphone technology is a no-brainer. Say your business downsizes a team in one area while hiring aggressively for another.
With softphone software, you can add, remove, or change phone configurations at the drop of a hat. You don’t need to worry about purchasing new hardware for an entire team (or finding storage for it).
No matter how your sales teams are changing, softphones can change easily with them.
Common Softphone Features:
The most common softphone software features are the same as a traditional phone:
- Inbound & Outbound Calls
- Call Holding
- Call Waiting
- Caller ID
- Call Logs
But because the phone function is based entirely on software, there are some handy additional features that softphones can do as well.
These will vary depending on the softphone provider, so definitely do a thorough check of their features and your needs before purchasing.
We’ve all gotten so used to video-conferencing software in the last few years. Thankfully, softphone applications now often come with video conferencing capabilities. These can be a huge blessing for internal team communications.
Unlimited Geographic Range
Unlike traditional phones, softphone apps don’t require special protocols for phoning numbers over international borders.
You can call anyone, anywhere in the world, without incurring additional charges or other issues.
Area Code Localization
This is more important for sales teams searching out prospects. But some softphone applications allow for area code localization — calling from a business number with the same area code as the regional lists you’re working from.
You could be recording a call for quality control purposes or to train new hires. Either way, it’s valuable information that your softphone applications can easily save for your future reference.
SMS & Instant Messages
Many softphone applications offer SMS or instant message capabilities, which let you send text messages to your business contacts.
Whether it’s to promote a limited-time offer or send support reminders to clients, softphone apps’ messaging capabilities are a great way to diversify your business communication.
Why Use a Softphone Service with Salesforce?
So why use a softphone service with Salesforce — or another CRM?
It comes down to data centralization and the ease of use with multiple working situations.
For example, think of a global company with multiple sales teams operating in different countries. With a team so widespread, working asynchronously to make hundreds of outbound calls a day, centralization of information and communication is central.
With softphone technology, this organization can keep their global teams on the same page with the same communication tool (instead of relying on country-specific and siloed phone systems).
Better still, that one global communication tool can share data directly with their customer records. So if a cross-regional client has an issue, any team member can quickly look through and see call records, notes, and more directly in their CRM.
Simply put, a softphone system connected to a CRM puts all your customer contact and relationship information in one centralized, transparent location.
Choosing a Softphone Provider:
If your business has already invested in VoIP technology, they may have a softphone service you can add to your package. Check with them first before shopping around.
So what’s the best softphone system? The answer will be different for every business, but there are a few criteria you should keep in mind when looking for a softphone solution:
Find a softphone software with an intuitive, easy-to-use user interface.
Most providers are happy to provide a live demo or a free trial, where you can see the product in action or test it yourself.
This is crucial for fast-growing distributed teams — you want software that new team members can learn to use very quickly.
Take a while to think about what you need a softphone application for. This will help determine which platform you go with.
A lot of providers have very similar features. But if you’re running a call center focused on prospect outreach, an app that prioritizes its video-conferencing capabilities might not be as important as CRM connectivity.
This applies more to sales and client support teams than internal use, but it can be relevant to both.
Make sure you identify the connection needs of your particular CRM platform before you start looking for softphone products. You’ll want to select a provider that’s compatible with the tech stack you’re already using.
Taking Salesforce as an example, you’ll want to find a softphone solution that is either easily connected to Salesforce or has a corresponding app in the AppExchange.
There’s nothing worse than not fully vetting a new tool and coming up against integration issues further down the line. Those issues might detract from the benefits you’d see with a fully compatible solution.
Streamline Your Sales Ops With Softphone Tech
Hopefully, we’ve answered the question “what is a softphone” by now.
If you’re looking for a solution that seamlessly integrates with Salesforce, give Fastcall a try. On top of being a great softphone software, Fastcall is a Salesforce-native softphone app. This comes with great security and reliability benefits for your remote teams.
Reach out to the Fastcall team for a live demo today!