Check out this excerpt from “How To Make Your Website Really Sell” in the September, 2009 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine featuring David Lively:

Be sure to post toll-free phone numbers and e-mail addresses on every page, as well as fields for visitors to submit questions, says David Lively, whose Ohio consulting firm, The Lively Merchant, specializes in retail sales. Glickman says retail sites should also allow visitors to calculate shipping costs early in the purchase process so that they aren’t ambushed at the conclusion of the transaction.

The ability to send automated responses to visitors who have reached the shopping cart is also critical, Lively says. “You want to be able to send auto responses that correspond to the exact point where a customer exits the shopping cart before purchasing, a communication that says, ‘We saw you were considering purchasing so-and-so product. If there are any questions we can answer about that product…’”

Whether you sell generic widgets or provide a highly specialized service, your efforts are more likely to bear fruit if your prospects perceive you as a benevolent authority in your field.

To that end, Lively says, a well-written, informative and regularly updated blog not only can boost credibility, it can also hold visitors’ interest and reengage them in the shopping experience. Read more…

How to Hold a Hot Lead by By David Port   |   Entrepreneur MagazineSeptember 2009

Make the essentials accessible. The company phone and e-mail should be prominent on most every page of a site, says Jay Bower of the Crossbow Group. Sites with a shopping cart should also provide ready access to privacy policies, return policies and shipping info.

Don’t demand too much information. “Only ask a customer or prospect for information you really need,” advises retail sales consultant David Lively. “Long forms are a source of frustration.”

Let them buy first, join later. It’s important to give customers an opportunity to open an account, but only after the close, says Dave Nevogt, owner of e-tailer

Remember: Less is more. “It’s a Facebook-driven world right now,” says Bower. You don’t want a site that looks text-heavy.

Function well with any browser. The best sites accommodate all visitors similarly, whether they arrived via Safari, Explorer or Firefox.

Be original. Don’t use a common template. Dare to differentiate with a site that looks and feels like no one else’s, says David Gass, who heads Business Credit Services.

Keep the site fresh. Regularly update your content, graphics and so on, and don’t be shy about trying new stuff on your site (a blog or video, for example).