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How To Pitch Your App Idea

How To Pitch Your App Idea

Sales reps are used to presenting their forecasts at least once a quarter. Marketers often have to run through an upcoming campaign to the exec team. Heads of HR know they have to provide overviews of training or changes to the company's benefits program in a way that’s easy to understand. Even

Sales reps are used to presenting their forecasts at least once a quarter.

Marketers often have to run through an upcoming campaign to the exec team.

Heads of HR know they have to provide overviews of training or changes to the company’s benefits program in a way that’s easy to understand.

Even with a wealth of experience speaking with leaders, however, pitching an app idea can be a whole different ball game.

Until recently, most businesses did not launch with a mobile app as part of their product portfolio or employee toolset. While startups often base their entire value proposition around an app, it’s still an area where many businesses, large and small, continue to play catch-up.

For senior managers or CEOs who have to sign off on an app project before it moves forward, meanwhile, the learning curve can feel steep.

Beyond cost considerations, some of the common questions might include:

  • How do we make sure this app is used, and doesn’t gather the digital equivalent of dust?
  • What kind of skill sets are we going to need (or hire for) to make a mobile app part of our everyday customer or employee experience?
  • What are the right metrics to determine return on investment — downloads/installs, time spent in the app, or something that leads directly to company revenue?

Those pitching an app, meanwhile, are no longer restricted to those in defined technology roles, extending to the line-of-business team members we described above. Sales, marketing, HR — even customer service, operations and facilities management professionals might have a great app idea inside them.

The good news is that low-code development platforms make it easier than ever to bring an app idea to life.

Before you get to that point, though, you’re going to have to get buy-in, especially if an app is tied to something that represents a critical part of your organization.

This calls for a specific kind of business case. Make sure you:

1. Paint a picture of a world where your app never exists

It may be tempting to jump right into a mockup of your app’s user interface (UI) and the key features and functions you want to include.

Don’t give into that temptation.

It will be more compelling for business leaders when they get a clearer sense of what the cost of doing nothing — ie, not building your app — will be.

  • If your app never exists, what kind of cost savings might the company miss out on?
  • How might competitors create an app instead, and differentiate themselves?
  • What kind of productivity barrier can erode employee engagement and hamper business results without the app?

Just like the best reps know when they’re pitching a customer or prospect, starting with the need or pain point lays the foundation for everything that comes next.

2. Provide a guided tour of the app stores

Mobile apps often come down to a build-vs.-buy decision.

Senior leaders might wonder, for instance, whether an app like the one you’re describing (or one that’s close enough) already exists that the company could acquire more quickly than making one of its own.

You’ll need to prove you’ve done your due diligence by showing research about any similar apps in the public app stores (if it’s a consumer-facing app). Do the same thing if it’s an internal app for employees by checking resources like Salesforce AppExchange.

If your competitors have already developed a similar app, obviously, you should highlight that fact, but also talk about how you might be able to deliver greater value than they are, given that execs may be less interested in a “me too” app idea.

3. Put the IT department concerns to rest right away

In most companies, those in IT are already busy enough patching together legacy technologies, keeping out hackers and answering all the help desk calls they get from employees. In small to medium-sized companies, the IT team may be small.

Executives will be understandably wary of adding to the IT department’s plate. Even though a low-code platform might allow you to create much of the app on your own, they’ll need to know things like testing and quality assurance will be covered off, and what will be involved in moving the app from idea into production.

Don’t leave this as a to-do item in your pitch. Have the conversation with IT ahead of time. If you have their buy-in, getting it from the leadership team may become a lot easier.

4. Position the use case from a specific person’s perspective

Let’s say you have an idea for an employee-facing app. Rather than leave the CEO or leaders to wonder whether employees will actually make an app a part of their day-to-day lives, conscript one of them to pitch along with you.

In your deck or presentation, walk through their regular day and illustrate where the mobile app would come in. Let them comment on why they agree with the idea or, if they can’t come, record their comments on video or add them in text on a slide.

You’ll want to try something similar for consumer-facing apps, but it doesn’t mean having to run an expensive focus group.

Make use of your social media channels to identify the areas where your app is answering their questions or assisting them. Direct message your biggest fans to see if they’ll back up your pitch in writing.

5. Plan for the perfect launch moment (and beyond)

A mobile app can be launched at any time, but some moments may be more opportune than others.

Consumer-facing apps might be best tied to the launch of a new product or service, where the app can keep them engaged after a purchase or drive another action, like attending an event your firm produces.

Employee-facing apps, meanwhile, could align with the introduction of a new workflow or process that the company is already introducing to improve operations. There might be less change management required when an app is just one part of a broader strategic shift.

As with any business case, spend the bulk of your time thinking through any other questions, objections or curveballs the leadership team might throw at you. Then make your pitch, and begin the first phase of developing a successful mobile app.

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