Mobile App Development Blog

Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Building a Mobile App.

Ian Blair

The 5 Step Guide To Selling Mobile Apps From Scratch

Selling mobile apps is one of many ways to build a business and make money. With all of the innovation in the field of mobile app development, it’s become quite easy to get up and running into a side hustle or even a 6-figure a year revenue stream.

I want to show you just how easy.

I’m going to walk you through the 5 simple steps you can take today to get started with building a business selling mobile apps – from scratch!

Let’s get started…

 

Step 1: Who Are You Selling To?

First things first, you’ll have to define who it is you’ll be selling to.

Do you want to help real estate agents retain their clients via mobile?

Do you want to help restaurants bring in repeat business? You could build mobile apps for churches.

There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing your markets, and we’ve come up with three easy ways to identify markets that will be easy for you to enter based on your own situation.

 

1. Who Are You Connected To?

Inevitably you’re connected to business owners and people who could become mobile app clients, you just have to think through it.

What do your friends do?

Do you have any family members in particular markets of interest?

What you want to find are markets that can be easily accessible based on your existing physical connections.

List out 5 to 10 of these markets on a piece of paper now and then keep reading.

 

2. Who’s In Your Network on Linkedin?

Linkedin is arguably the biggest professional network around with over 467 million users and chances are if you have an account, you’re connected to some people who could lead you to your ideal market.

It’s pretty simple to get going, just click on the “Advanced” link beside the search bar.

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Then select “1st Connections” under the “Relationship” section and hit “Search”.

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This will show you everyone you’re connected to directly on Linkedin. Meaning you can also get in touch with them directly via Linkedin for free.

If you don’t have a premium Linkedin account you can just scroll through the results and make note of any industries that peak your interest here. If you have a premium Linkedin account, you can take this a step further and use a couple of additional filters to see only owners and CEOs of companies.

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You can paste this into the “Title” field: “CEO” OR “Founder” OR “President” OR “Owner”

Then select “Current” from the drop down just below the “Title” field to ensure they’re currently running a company.

Now you can scroll through all of the results and note down an additional 5 – 10 markets on the same piece of paper from the first method. We’ll use this list in step 2 to narrow down our focus.

 

3. What Industries & Markets Interest You?

What you’ll want to look at in addition to these markets is any other market that might interest you personally. You may already have a list of 20+ markets on your piece of paper – and that’s ok. But if you have an interest in a particular market, chances are you’ll be able to grow your business faster because you’ll already know a bit about that market.

Ideally you’ll want to note down markets or industries you have an interest in and already know something about.

For example, if you know a bit about real estate because you helped a family member sell a house, that’s a good market to write down. You’ll be on the right foot in knowing a bit about the market when you have to dive into researching it.

Come up with a few markets you may have an interest in here and you’ll have to end off with at least 20 markets on your piece of paper.

If you can’t quite think of any, grab our list of mobile app markets to try:

In the next step you’ll be researching these markets and narrowing in on the best market(s) specifically for you. They’ll have the right audience size, be easy enough to contact and ideally you’ll have a bit of personal interest in the market. It’s step one to giving you the lowest-barrier path to generating revenue by selling mobile apps.

 

Step 2: Research The Market

Now that you have a list of 20 or more markets, it’s time to ask yourself one key question:

“Does this market have an effective use for a mobile app?”

What you really want to understand here is the pain or problem you’d be helping that market solve with a mobile app. Whether you’re looking at real estate, landscaping, plumbing or any other market, you need to understand the problem before being able to sell them on the solution.

In many cases the answer is yes because businesses in a particular market want to bring new customers in or they want to retain existing customers or they want to nurture customers to make that next purchase.

You need to identify which particular use cases makes most sense for them.

If you can’t think of one, than put a line through that market on your list because they don’t have a problem you can find, that can be solved with a mobile app. If there is no problem, you’ll have a hard time selling them on something they don’t need.

Go through your list until you’ve identified the markets that have a problem you can realistically solve using a mobile app.

 

Market Size

Now that you’ve narrowed down your list to the markets who have a problem, you have to see just how big of a market you can deal with. If the market is too small, it’s going to be hard to scale and sell a lot of apps. The ideal market size is over 10,000 businesses operating in one or two major and accessible countries. If you’re working within North America, the aim is to have at least 10,000 businesses in the particular market across Canada and USA (or USA and the UK).

You can often find a sample size by looking at Manta.com or YellowPages.com. Look in a small town and then a major city to compare and you can estimate from there.

For example, if we were assessing the size of the dental market in Canada, I’d take a look at dentists in Niagara Falls, ON (population of 82,000) as a small town example.

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Then I’d take a look at Toronto, ON (population of 2,600,000) as a major city example.

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From here I can see that Toronto alone has over 4,000 dentists listed. I know Canada has quite a few Niagara Falls sized cities and I only need there to be 30 cities of that size to make up the minimum threshold of 10,000 business. Based on this, dentists is a good market to start with based on the size.

If your market can be targeted by a job title, real estate agents for example, than you can simply go to Facebook’s advertising tool and get a pretty accurate audience size.

First you’ll want to go to your Facebook ad manager section and then click on the “Create Ad” button.

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From here you’ll just want to select “Traffic” and put any name for the campaign.

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Now you’ll be able to enter in some targeting options.

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For real estate agents, we’ll click on the “Browse” link in the “Detailed Targeting” section. Then click on “Demographics”, then “Work” and finally “Job Titles”.

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When you do that you’ll be able to search for people with particular job titles on Facebook. In this case we’ll add in everything related to real estate agents and realtors.

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With all of these job titles being targeted in the United States, we see that our total target audience size is 310,000. In that case we’re well above the market size we need for it to be a viable market.

A simple, less technical heavy way of finding market size is as easy as Googling it.

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By now you’ve narrowed down your previous list of markets to those who have a problem that can be solved by mobile apps and those who have a big enough market.

 

Contacting The Market

There’s one last thing you’ll need to know before making a decision on your market, figure out how to contact them.

The ability to contact your market with ease is critical in growing your business.

On average you can assume that 2 – 4% of a total market can be captured through strictly direct response marketing means. Meaning that by direct methods of getting in contact with your market (cold email, cold calling and so on), you can realistically capture up to 4% of your total market size.

If you have plans to build a 6 or even 7 figure a year business, this makes having lots of contact options available crucial.

What you’ll want to do now is go to Google and search for a few businesses in each market to find out all the different contact options available to you in that market.

For example, if we were looking at dentists, I’d:

1) Do a quick search for “dentists in Toronto”

2) Pick the top 2 advertisers and the top 2 organic dentists

3) Look at their websites and note down if I can contact them by phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and any other medium

Once you’ve done that for every market on your list, you’ll have all the data you need to sort your markets by size, how easy it is to contact them and by how many problems you can solve with a mobile app solution.

Finally, the hard part of it all – choosing a single market to start with.

This won’t have to be the market you stay in, but by choosing a single market to start with, it’s easier to instantly create an expert status in that market (more on this later).

Choose a market and move on to step 3.

 

Step 3: Decide On Your Business Model & Price Point

With your market chosen, it’s time to look at how you plan on delivering mobile apps to that market. Your fulfilment method will directly impact your pricing model and how easy it is to scale your business.

You have a few options to look at with regards to delivering mobile apps:

 

Developing Apps Through An Agency

There are a number of app development agencies out there, many of which offer a white label option. Often these agencies are useful when custom functionality is required, but as a result the cost is quite high as we found out when we answered the question “How much does it cost to build a mobile app?

The pricing model here is usually a custom quote with a 20 – 30% mark up on your hard costs (the agency’s fee to build it). There is rarely room to make more than 30% because with a custom built app, at a minimum an app will cost you $30,000 or so. Marking that up by 30% means you’ll be charging your clients $39,000. And that’s for quite a basic app.

 

Using An App Building Platform

The alternative is to use an app building platform, like BuildFire. Many of these app building platforms also offer a white label option. In most cases you can’t get into custom functionality outside what’s offered, BuildFire is the one exception that offers you that capability through building custom plugins that can be used across multiple apps.

Unlike fully custom development, building a custom plugin is significantly less time and resource consuming and can be done for as little as $500, depending on the functionality required.

When you look at the pricing disparity between fully custom development and using an app builder, you can easily see why app builders are a new standard. They easily allow you to carry a 100% or higher mark up to your customers and still be highly competitive.

Often time, just like with custom development, you’ll still want to deliver a completely finished product to your client through an app building platform. That means you’ll also be able to charge a setup fee on top of the monthly recurring and maintenance fees you can charge, while still being price competitive.

We’ve found some of the most successful agencies selling apps through app building platforms charge a $500 to $1,000 setup fee to build the app and then have one all encompassing monthly fee (usually inclusive of hosting the app and updating the app) between $99 and $299 per month.

The key to pricing is to look at how long it will take you to build the app using the given platform, how long it will take to sell each app and how much time is realistically involved in monthly maintenance or update requests. Calculating your pricing based on these metrics ensures you’ll never undercharge for your services and always carry a good profit margin to your bottom line.

 

Step 4: Choose Your Prospecting Method(s)

Like any business you have quite a few options to prospecting new clients. We’re going to go over a few of the lower barrier methods that allow you to take quick but leveraged action:

  • – Warm Network Prospecting
  • – Linkedin Prospecting
  • – Cold Emailing

Let’s dive in!

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Warm Network Prospecting

As you might expect, one of the reasons I asked you to write down niches you’re connected to is to feed this method of prospecting. If you are personally connected to business owners in your target market, it will be significantly easier to bring them on as clients because of the connection.

You can make the approach digitally through Facebook and Linkedin, or physically face to face.

If you take the digital route, here’s a super simple message you can customize and use to announce your new venture:

Hey <First Name>,

I have experienced some significant career changes over the past several weeks and have turned my attention to my next project. 

I have been investing a significant amount of time and research building a new business that I’ve launched. My service focuses on <detail the problem you solve for your market and the outcome achievable>.

If you know anyone that’s a <the businesses you serve> that might benefit from this type of service, do you mind passing this email on to them?

I don’t want to sell anyone at this time, I just want to show some people the overall strategy to get their feedback.

Thanks for your time, and let me know if you have any questions or would just like to catch up.

Regards, 

<Your Name>

 

Here’s an example of it:

Hey John,

I have experienced some significant career changes over the past several weeks and have turned my attention to my next project.

I have been investing a significant amount of time and research building a new business that I’ve launched. My service focuses on setting up the perfect mobile marketing system to help restaurants turn new diners into lifetime patrons.

If you know anyone that’s a restaurant owner that might benefit from this type of service, do you mind passing this email on to them?

I don’t want to sell anyone at this time, I just want to show some people the overall strategy to get their feedback.

Thanks for your time, and let me know if you have any questions or would just like to catch up.

Regards,

Jamil

If you want to take a bit more of a mass appeal approach, you can just post a version of this on your Facebook profile and Linkedin profile to see if anyone is a good fit.

 

Linkedin Prospecting

You already know how to search on Linkedin to find out who you’re connected to, but we’re going to take this to the next level. The goal of prospecting on Linkedin in the way we’ll show you is to get connected to new potential prospects, book a phone call if they are interested and then be able to pull them into your sales process if there is a good fit.

There’s 6 steps we’ll go through in the Linkedin prospecting process:

  • 1) Profile Optimization
  • 2) Searching
  • 3) Viewing
  • 4) Connecting
  • 5) First Contact

Let’s dive in!

 

Profile Optimization

If you’re going head first into selling mobile apps via Linkedin, than you’ll have the best results if you optimize your Linkedin profile to reflect that.

We’ll be looking at optimizing a few key areas of your profile to drive action.

For this example I’ve modified my Linkedin profile as if I was selling mobile apps to the restaurant industry (feel free to copy any or all of the copy).

Your headline is your elevator pitch to other Linkedin users to portray to them in one sentence what it is that you do. It’s used to create some mystery and ideally trigger a response that makes them want to click through to learn more.

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In this case if someone who owns a restaurant views my profile or sees me in their “Who’s viewed my profile” section of Linkedin, they’ll be interested to learn how I double their cashflow or how I get patrons to keep coming back.

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When someone actually views your profile they’ll see a few areas that can entice them to learn more. The most recent posts you’ve made, your summary and experience.

It’s important to keep the articles you post on Linkedin’s Pulse relevant to what you do. In this case I’d keep it stocked with articles about restaurant marketing and how restaurants are making mistakes with their marketing. Both types of articles are informative and show that I know what I’m talking about.

The more important area is your summary. This is where you can justify what you’ve said above and really drive home your point.

Here’s a summary you can copy for your own profile:

I partner with restaurant owners to help them double their cashflow through building loyalty amongst their customers. 

You’d be surprised how many of your customers actually come back, despite your efforts in building a phenomenal customer experience. They’ll often forget you existed hours after leaving.

I can help by building you a system that keeps you in their pocket 24/7, 365 days of the year to keep you top of mind at those critical moments when they choose to eat out. We do this by: 

1) Rewarding loyalty 

2) Bringing them into an “exclusive club” of elite customers

The best part is, it’ll take you less than 15 minutes a week to manage – or I can do it for you!

—– 

Now we won’t be a good fit if:

– You don’t already have customers coming in the door

– You don’t see the value in retaining or delivering great experiences for your customers

– And you aren’t serious about building a sustainable book of business for your restaurant

—–

I can work with you in one of two ways: 

1) I build you this reservation generating system and then you take it over

2) You have me build you this reservation generating system and run it for you, so you can focus on what you do best – running your restaurant!

—— 

If you’re ready to see how this system would look for your restaurant – I’ll build you a working prototype you can interact with – FREE!

I usually charge +$500 just to build this prototype, but I like to start off relationships by providing outstanding value.

You won’t get any push or sales pitch from me. It has to be a mutual decision to work together.

► Wanna talk?

Email me: hi@jamilvelji.com or InMail me and we’ll go from there

OR if you want to have a call: https://clarity.fm/jamilvelji

 

As you can see we now have the headline doing the interest generating, and the summary closing the deal and getting them in touch with you.

You can take this a lot further with optimizing your entire profile, but this is the basic pieces you’ll need to take action.

 

Searching

Now that you have your profile ready, it’s time to get in front of key people who can actually buy what you have to sell. To do this you’ll want to use Linkedin’s search functionality to narrow in on your ideal customer.

You’ll want to use Linkedin’s advanced search functionality to do this.

For the restaurant owner example, here’s how your search might look:

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There’s a lot going on here, so let’s break it down.

The Title section is where you can search by company title. Since the people I’m looking for could be using CEO or Owner or something similar, we’re using what’s called a Boolean search to account for a few variations of titles they might use.

To help make it easy, here’s what I put in that field:

“CEO” OR “Founder” OR “Owner” OR “President”

There’s definitely more ways than that to say you own a restaurant, but it’s a good starting point.

Next is Seniority Level and Company Size – both of these are Linkedin premium search capabilities (and I highly recommend you have Linkedin premium if you’re using this prospecting method).

Seniority Level is allowing us to narrow in on people who own the businesses they have listed in their experience. It’s more of a secondary filter for us to make sure we’re looking at owners of businesses and not employees.

The Company Size filter is allowing me to search for restaurants that won’t be very large chains where I’d have no chance to talk to an owner. For example, I wouldn’t want to go after a chain like Boston Pizza, because it’s too big and already has a very thorough mobile experience. But a small chain of 3 – 5 restaurants is perfectly fine.

Once you do that search you’ll end up with some results like this:

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From here we’ll move into the next step of the Linkedin process.

 

Viewing

When you have your list of people, it’s time to just start viewing their profiles – here’s why:

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When you view a person’s profile, they’ll get notified that you viewed them and it will show something like the above to them in their notifications section. In our prospecting process we’re using this as an interest trigger.

If they see you’ve viewed their profile, and doubling their cashflow or mobile apps or building a loyal base of patrons is interesting to them, they’ll click through. If they click through they’ll move into the next stage of the process. If not, that’s fine too.

This is used as a qualifier to ensure you are really only contacting people who are actually interested in taking action. Those who aren’t will be a hard sell and aren’t worth the time.

Now there are some tools to help you automate this step, here’s two I’ve personally used: eLink & AutoPilot For Linkedin.

Both handle this viewing process well, but a key thing to note – using any type of automation with Linkedin can raise some red flags. Do this at your own risk.

 

Connecting

When you kick off the viewing process, you’ll start noticing people start to view you back. You’ll be able to see these people in the “Who’s viewed your profile” section of Linkedin.

This is also where you can take action on the next step, which is connecting with the people who are a fit for your offer.

For example, here’s the four most recent viewers of my profile:

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Now I like to connect with CEOs and founders of companies because it makes a good network. So in my case I might try connecting with 3 of the 4 profile viewers who are CEOs because they likely have a network that can support expanding mine.

If you were looking at this based on selling mobile apps, you’d want to look at who out of these 4 can realistically use a mobile app. If they can, hit the connect button and use a message similar to the one below:

Hi <First Name>,

I noticed that you dropped by my profile recently. It was probably a casual visit but I thought I would just check to see if there is anything that I can help with.

Let me know if you would like to have a chat.

Meanwhile, why don’t we link up and keep in touch.

< Your Name>

This message is simple and keeps the focus away from anything salesy. It’s just about making a connection and maybe having a chat – nice and light compared to a lot of what these folks get every day.

 

First Contact

After you’ve sent a few of these messages you’ll start getting connected to people on Linkedin. This is the main goal – once you’re connected to someone as a first connection on Linkedin, you can send them InMails (Linkedin’s version of on-platform emails) at no cost.

Once you’ve connected with them, you’ve opened up a channel of communication you can now use to take the next step and have a chat.

To do this, I have a simple template you can use:

Subject: Thanks for conneting 

Hi <First Name>,

Thanks for connecting here on Linkedin.

I’d love to learn more about what you do in case there is anyone in my network I can connect you with. Have time for a quick 15 minute call?

I talk to a lot of <Relevant Industry> owners every week and it’s always great to connect people when there’s a good fit to make an introduction.

Grab any time that suits you best here: <Your Calendar Booking Link>

Just so you know <1 – 2 Sentence Overview of What You Do and Who You’ve Worked With> 

Yours in success,

<Your Name>

In practice, this InMail gets sent to about 10 people every day that I connect with, 4 book calls and 1 to 2 respond by InMail. It’s effective because it’s not sales oriented. It’s just about learning more, so you can understand where the gap is that you can fill.

Often these conversations lead to the ultimate question “so Jamil, what do you do?”. By that point you know all about them and you can immediately tailor your response to fill the gap they just told you they have. From there you’re just a few short steps away from making a sale.

This is just a simplified version of Linkedin prospecting, but it’s enough to start booking appointments and making sales. The key thing you must remember to do from here is follow up.

On the follow up you can usually connect with another 1 or two people out of every 10, which vastly increases your chances of making sales.

If you don’t want to read through all this and want a more hand-held approach to setting up Linkedin prospecting, here’s a mini-masterclass I did a while ago on the step-by-step approach to setting up and running Linkedin prospecting. It’s about 60 minutes and the link includes all the resources you’ll need to get started.

 

Cold Emailing

If you have more money than time or just don’t have any time – cold emailing is a great method to use for prospecting.

 

1. The List

The entire cold email approach relies on how good your list is. If you start with a bad quality list with little data, you’ll get bad results. If you have a good quality list with lots of data, you can deliver highly personalized messages, which gets you great results.

If you have the time, I highly recommend building a list manually. You’ll often get better quality and more accurate data. You can do this using YellowPages or Manta. Here’s a template you can use to build your lists.

If you don’t have the time, here’s a few places where you can buy lists to use:

  • – SalesGenie.com
  • – InfoUSA.com
  • – InfoFree.com
  • – LimeLeads.com
  • – ExactData.com

I’ve personally used all of these at some point or another, but I can’t make any comments to current list quality for any given industry. All of these do have valid sources of data and are, for the most part, up to date.

 

2. Outline The Problem/Solution

Once you have your list, you need to narrow in on the specific problem/solution combination that will get you a few minutes of their attention by email.

If you’re dealing with realtors, that combination might be:

Problem – Ineffective lead communication channels

Solution – Push notifications has the highest engagement rate of any mass approach communication channel

In that situation your email would need to dial in on the pain associated with not having an effective way to get new listings in front of their list of leads. There are many approaches here from lost commissions to a downward path to cashflow zero.

You just need to dial in on what makes the most sense to support your proposed solution.

 

3. Crafting Your Email Sequence

There are a number of approaches you can make by email, one of the best we’ve found in the mobile space is to deliver a lot of value upfront in the first email. This value trickles down and makes the sales process much easier because you’ve already put your best foot forwards.

Here’s an email template you can use that has worked for us:

Hi <First Name>,

My name is <Your Name> with <Your Company>, we help <Market> <Outcome>.

We’ve worked with <Market> like <Client One>, <Client Two> and <Client Three> to achieve similar results.

We get results rapidly and if we don’t think we can kick butt for you, we’ll be upfront about it.

Can I send you an interactive demo of what your mobile app might look like?

Thank YOU, 

<Your Name>

<Your Phone Number>

 

Here’s an example of the sequence when it’s filled out:

Hi John, 

My name is Jamil with BuildFire, we help restaurants double their weekly reservations and fill seats throughout the week to drive more consistent cashflow through loyalty driven mobile apps.

We’ve worked with restaurants like Pete’s Pizza, Four Brothers Italian Bistro and Mossimo’s Pizzeria to achieve similar results.

We get results quick and if we don’t think we can kick butt for you, we’ll be upfront about it.

Can I send you an interactive demo of what your loyalty driven mobile app might look like? 

Thank YOU, 

Jamil Velji

(555) 555-5555

 

The approach I’d recommend is to ask permission to send over a mockup or working prototype of an app.

This obviously isn’t feasible if you’re building the apps from scratch, but if you’re using a platform like BuildFire to build your apps – it’s as simple as cloning a standardized template you’ve built for your market and making a few quick modifications.

The good part is you won’t have to do the work until you’ve been given permission to send over the demo.

By asking for permission we’re lowering the prospect’s guard and removes that nagging voice in the back of their mind saying that we’re selling them something.

 

Step 5: Closing The Sale

Finally let’s talk about the most important step of selling mobile apps – closing the sale!

 

Map Out Your Process

The first thing you’ll want to do is map out your sales process from start to finish in the most ideal case. This will allow you to craft the experience you want to deliver to a customer and ensure you can create a system or process around it all.

An example might be:

  • 1. Linkedin Prospecting To Generate Leads
  • 2. Intro Call Booked Through Calendly
  • 3. Call Had, Permission Given To Build Interactive Demo, Second Call Booked
  • 4. Interactive Demo Customized
  • 5. Call Had To Show Off Demo & Send Payment Link
  • 6. On-boarding Questionnaire Sent Upon Payment
  • 7. Questionnaire Received
  • 8. Mobile App Built
  • 9. Mobile App Q&A’ed Internally
  • 10. Link To App Sent To Client For Review
  • 11. App Approved
  • 12. App Submitted To App Store(s)
  • 13. App Published & Client Notified

You may have additional upsells or services offered after an app has been published, but that’s an example of how detailed (at a minimum) you’ll want to have your process. The actual sale is final when an app is published or delivered to be published. That’s the point when you should have been paid and the client has received what they paid for.

 

QUICK TIP: Always Book The Next Call On The Last Call

An important step in the process of selling small businesses, or any business really, is to not let there be a drop off in communication. Once communication drops the deal begins to go cold fast.

The easiest way to mitigate this is to book your next calls while on your current call.

On your introduction call, book your demo call at the end. On your demo call, book your sales call.

Never let there be a time when you’ve left the conversation at an email follow up.

 

Conclusion

While this guide may have made selling mobile apps seem complex, when you get into the day to day of it, it’s quite a simple process. Businesses have a need, you’re delivering the solution and you get paid – rinse and repeat.

We’ve had a number of White Label partners build 6-figure a year businesses through selling mobile apps, and they started off no different than you. Their success was all about consistent and focused action – a simple recipe for success that takes some dedication to execute on.

If it’s a path you’re interested in traveling to build your own 6-figure a year business, we can help. With an easy to use platform that supports a simple selling process and loads of support to make the sale, we’ll be able to help you get up and running on the path to making sales in your first 30 days. All you have to do is click here to get in touch and see if there’s a fit!

Have a question about selling apps or getting started? Comment below!

Ian Blair

BuildFire Co-Founder. I'm a digital marketer by trade and an entrepreneur at heart. I'm here to help businesses go mobile and build apps more efficiently than before.