For those who don’t know me, I have been selling mobile apps for around 4 years now. I have always been a developer which amounts to over 18 years experience. I’m also a local business owner with partners in restaurants, bars/pubs, and hotels. I have a real love for my local area and the small businesses which make up 90% of my business.
4 years ago I knew that mobile apps were going to be BIG. I wanted to sell mobile apps to small businesses in my area for under $1000 plus a monthly fee. So, I created my first in-house app builder so I could make apps quickly and spend my time selling. 3 months of work and 1 app sold I was ready to go out and sell WOOHOO! I was really excited and looking forward to showing people how a mobile app could change their business.
Repeating to myself the positive sales points.
“Thanks, to push notification you can send messages to your clients when you are empty”.
So, I got in my car and was looking forward to the millions rolling in.
But it wasn’t to be 🙁 I knocked on door after door. The business owners happily let me in and were very interested but I was well ahead of time. I constantly hit “we already have a website” or “We are investing in Facebook only at the moment”. After a couple of weeks, I was starting to despair. I was selling 1 app here and there but not enough to make my dreams of an army of sales people and me and a team of developers building the hundreds of sold apps.
So, I took a step back and looked at the data. I realised that they were just not getting the picture and were not seeing the huge potential of a mobile app. I needed another way to show off the potential of a mobile app which was easier to sell got me through the door and helped me to make the big sale later on.
So, after nights of thinking a rattling my brain, I thought of an old website I owned in the early 90’s. I setup a site with my father for our local area. It wasn’t anything amazing just a what-to-do in my town site. A list of businesses and events. This is where I came up with the idea of city apps. A simple app that would tell people what is going on the town. Where to eat and the business owners would be able to send push notifications to tell my users what was going on. Killing 2 birds with one stone, giving my app users something worth downloading and at the same time showing the business owner the power of apps & push notifications. There were hundreds of sites doing worldwide but I wanted LOCAL, LOCAL LOCAL to be my main sales point.
So, the City App was launched I worked night & day making a mobile app that would be easy for the clients to use. I named the app after the town where I was living and planning to sell. 7 days later apple accepted the app and I was ready to go and sell. I was almost more excited about this app than the builder I built a couple of months ago, I was sure this was going to work. I had printed t-shirts with the name of the app and I love my city on the back.
Selling was for me going to the break or bust. I had to make it work. So, I searched Facebook for leads looking for business owners that were involved in the town and ongoing events. I knew that if I targeted the people that were proud to be a citizen of the city, they would be proud to be on the app. I put together a 50% off deal for the first 5 businesses on the app, that way it started the ball rolling and no one like’s an app with no content.
I hit the road with one ambition sell, sell, sell. I had 3 appointments the first day as I cold-called before. The appointments went really well and I sold 2 out of the 3 on the first day. The 3rd business said they wanted to wait to see if their competition signed up.
After one week of door-to-door sales, I came home with my first 10+ paying customers and an appointment to make a presentation in front of a group of 20 more local businesses.
I launched my first city app 3 years ago and haven’t looked back since. I started by going to the local chamber of commerce and tourist offices who helped me by leaving flyers and talking about the app to businesses & end users. I didn’t realise it at the time but thanks to the return to ‘local’ becoming extremely fashionable I hit a real button with the businesses owners. I was personally seen as doing something for my local community and invited to events and groups to present the app & my company.
Now here is the great part: As planned the city app was a great door opener. The advertisements inside the apps were an easy sale and the businesses were proud to be on the app. I included 1 push notification per month in each package sold to the businesses. This meant they could see the power of a push. After sending the push I would phone the client to let them know it was sent and I would be calling them back to see how it went (a couple of days later). To which I did, in 85% of occurrences the business owner was really impressed with the results and this is where I came in with my right hook (thanks, Gary Vee). If the campaign was a success I would say “you know if you had your own app you would be able to send push notifications to your clients every day”.
Conclusions : I have always been very lucky in my life I often stumble upon ideas when doing something different. City Apps are an amazing sales tool, not only for the businesses listed but for you. I now have a team of salespeople throughout the west coast and we are expanding into new towns every month. I know that selling apps maybe that little easier now than 4 years ago. But when selling if you have a tool that can help you sell easier, use it!