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A business website is an electronic device that consumers invite into their home or office at a time when they are most likely to buy. Just like a human salesperson, to be successful the website must make a good impression, compellingly pitch the products and services it has to offer, succinctly answer the consumer’s questions, and either close the sale or move it to the next level.

If your website has good rank in its search engine optimization (SEO) and holds an attractive position with search engine results pages (SERP) then it will get in front of the consumers giving you the possibility of making sales. SEO and SERP are about getting your electronic salesperson in front of the customer. In order to make the sale your website must:

  • Make a Good Impression. Its look and feel must fit the products and services you offer. The pages must load quickly to hold attention and avoid frustration. Its instructions and layout must be clear and easy to follow. The navigation panel must think like the consumer, anticipating their needs and thought patterns. In short, coming to your website must be a pleasant and fulfilling experience that will make consumers want to come back again and even invite their friends.
  • Pitch the Products and Answer the Questions. People come to websites for a reason. Whatever that reason may be, you want to fulfill it. If you are a retailer, consumers will come to gather basic information such as cost and availability. If you deal in information you will want to provide insightful articles. The website of a restaurant may need to provide hours of operation and a menu in order satisfy its visitors. In order to have a user-friendly website you need to know your audience, anticipate their needs, and put it right in front of them.
  • Close the Sale or Move It to the Next Level. There is nothing more pathetic in a retail store than seeing an abandoned shopping cart, filled with products, standing near the check out line where only a few cash registers are open and the lines are long. It tells me the retailer had what the consumer wanted, at a price they were willing to pay, but could not close the sale because they skimped at the end. When having a website developed make certain you include a high quality shopping cart or signup application that makes closing the sale a sure and simple thing.

I am only scratching the surface on what it takes for a website to be your electronic salesperson who actually increases sales and profits. These are my own biases. From the perspective of either a consumer or web designer what factors do you think are important to “make the sale?”