simonlondon - 11:25 am on Dec 20, 2012 (gmt 0)
With so many that's going on in search at the moment, being #1 is not as critical as it was in the past.
If the traffic is not converting, then that's defintely higher priority than where the site ranks.
No offence but from what you have described, it sounds like you know TOO well about the business which may mean that your view of the site (especially the UI and how well it serves its CUSTOMERS) is biased. It doesn't hurt to get some fresh eyes to take a critical look at the site.
If you are selling expensive stuff, don't expect customers to pay at the first visit. If you can't get them to convert initially, are you setting up mid goals for you to keep them in the loop? For example, are you capturing their email or tel? Have you studied the intent of the keywords and understood where they are in terms of the buying cycle? Do the keywords show that they are not ready to buy yet but are looking for something to help them make the decision? Can you help them if this is the case?
The questions can go on and on and the foremost thing is for you or the owner to accept the fact that the site DOESN'T convert which means there MUST be something wrong with it.