Why Indie Developers Need To Think Like Sales People

I built an app, called Iron HUD. It was making me a grand total of about $23 a month.

After a few weeks, I decided to run an experiment. So… I strategically changed the price of the app, without changing any core features. The very next day, I doubled that $23 in a single day, which eventually averaged to about $1400 a month in sales ( close to $1000 in actual income after Apple takes their cut ). Not bad for a single app for an indie developer.

This was an amazing lesson for me in how the right pricing & monetization for my app can be part of a very effective strategy in increasing my app sales.

So what did I do? What did I price my app to in order to make this huge 600% increase in sales? It turns out that simply changing the price wasn’t really the reason of the increase. Don’t get me wrong… it helped, but it only played a small part of what really made the difference. The true differentiator, is that I started thinking like a salesperson, and not a developer.

If you’re still curious about the pricing, I actually gave my app away for FREE! I opted for the freemium model and saved some of the best core features of the app as in app purchases.

The freemium model is a sales tactic. And one that aligns quite well with something that sales people call a “sales funnel”.

If you don’t believe that this strategy works, you can just look at many of the popular game apps like Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, Bejeweled, Pokemon Go, Angry Birds, and the list goes on and on.

Ok back to the “sales funnel”. A sales funnel is an idea in where you constantly make sure you get new leads because you know that only a small percentage of them will ultimately buy your product. Part of the way the funnel works is that when the lead enters it, you have a reliable communication channel ( whether it be email or something else ) to consistently nurture and communicate value of your product, so that they will eventually buy it.

So how does that relate to the freemium app model? Ok here it is..

Your app is the sales funnel… AND… your communication channel.

What are you selling then? In App Purchases, upgrades, etc.

By giving away your app for free, your “sales funnel” will receive more leads because of the reduced barrier to entry. Now that they have become a lead and have dowloaded your app, you have a reliable channel to communicate the value of your In App Purchases.

Like the way Pokemon GO naturally emphasizes the importance of always having Poke Balls on you. If you run out, you may want to purchase some, just in case a rare Pokemon comes around.

Another benefit of doing the freemium app model, especially if you have “consumable upgrades” like the Poke Balls mentioned above, is that the same user can buy that upgrade more than once. They may even purchase multiple times in their lifetime as a user.

This… my friends… changes the game.


Because now it doesn’t seem crazy to spend money to acquire new users. It doesn’t seem crazy to spend $4 per lead, or 10$ per lead, or even spend several million dollars to get famous actors and actresses to do a commercial for your app. Actors like Arnold Schwarzenegger to promote Mobile Strike, or Kate Upton to promote Game of War.

This freemium model with consumable upgrades, allows big app companies to go insane with advertising to acquire new users because enough of them will buy their upgrades, and buy more of them later down the road.

Obviously doing commercials is way out of budget for indie developers, but doing Facebook app ads at $4 installs doesn’t seem so far fetched now if you have an addicting app with great consumable upgrades. In the long run, those users can make you way more money than you ever spent trying to acquire them.

These are just a few way in how thinking like a sales person can help your indie dev career. Think strategically on how to acquire users, how to monetize, and you’ll have a better shot at really making some money with your apps.

Originally published at www.chrisallanli.com.

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