Your sales rep is busy making 20 or 30 sales calls each day. He's working long hours, meeting customers after hours as well at weekends. He's handing out brochures to everybody he meets. He's telling prospects about a fantastic offer that you've got going. His social life is just as frantic - at every opportunity he's networking, handing out business cards and telling everyboody how good your business is. He's even leaving flyers in letter boxes in his neighbourhood. He epitomises enthusiasm and commitment.
But for some reason he rarely gets new customers or makes new sales.
As a responsible business owner you want to find out why. To your dismay you discover that the brochures he's handing out describe products that were replaced two years previously. That special offer expired six months ago. The business cards he's using have got the wrong phone number - it was disconnected a year ago. And you changed your service provider to save some money and the email address on your business cards and flyers is out of date so that emails bounce with the "Unknown Address" error.
You call him into the office, only to discover that he looks like a refugee from the '90s.
It's an intolerable situation, right? Let me guess - you fire him. Or maybe you tell him to improve his appearance, issue him with the proper sales collateral and give him new business cards. Assuming, of course, that you're still in business. Or perhaps you're thinking "That's just plain stupid - it would never happen in my business."
Why, then, do so many businesses let their website do exactly the same things? It's working 24 hours a day, with obsolete information and an "email us" link that goes to the wrong address. It has an outdated design with blinking text and brash colours. The "Contact Details have the wrong phone number, and the "Coming Soon" link should read "Long Gone".
If this applies to you, fire your website by getting rid of it, or urgently bring it into line with your business. While you still are in business.
If you don't accept the discipline of maintaining your website, you're probably better off without one.
This is the third article in a series that exposes the many, yet frequently overlooked fundamental business principles that successful websites should follow. The author Ron Stark is the founder of Snapsite, who take the trouble to understand your business.