One of the simplest ways of converting potential customers to ACTUAL customers can be to offer several methods of payment for your products and services.
For instance, some customers may prefer to pay by cash or cheque on receipt of an invoice whilst others (especially small businesses) may prefer to smooth out their cashflow by paying for your product or service with their corporate or personal credit card.
If your venture is based online or if you usually accept credit cards payments in your shop using an EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale) system (the Australian term for a card-swipe machine connected to your bank), then you may prefer establishing an Online Credit Card Merchant account with your bank in conjunction with a Payment Gateway (which is either provided by your bank or a third-party supplier). Costs can be quite reasonable even for small volume sales (usually $100-$500 per month PLUS a percentage and/or flag-fall charge per transaction).
If you are a more "traditional" business, like ourselves, who usually invoice for your services and just want to add an extra method of payment for those customers who are looking to smooth out their cashflow by paying for invoices with their credit card, you can opt for a simple solution that involves no monthly costs at all.
Paypal, for example, can be set up to accept a credit card payment without the need to set up a merchant facility with a bank. The only charges for you, as the merchant, is a per-transaction fee (around $0.30 AUD) and a small percentage of the overall transaction amount (1.1% to 2.4%, dependent on your monthly sales). Note that these charges may vary as they are set by Paypal.
Other options include accepting credit card details via email or stored in a database (from an online form the customer fills in), and then processing the payment using your credit card terminal in your shop. It should be noted, however that this method is fraught with danger and only the most foolhardy web developer will offer you such a solution (please note that we won't build such a system for you, even if you ask us nicely!).
Whichever way you choose to go with accepting credit card payments online, remember that there are some quite strict rules involved with transmitting and storing credit card details (see PCI DSS) - so choosing a professions, secure option is always preferable. Massive fines and bans may apply for transmitting and storing credit card details in ways that are not secure.
Of course, you can also add a shopping cart or other functionality to your payment system to create a full online sales opportunity. Click here for a little more information.