Wondering how to sell software? It’s a great plan. On mobile devices alone, the average person uses 30 different apps each month. That’s not counting the software you use at work or on your desktop at home. Selling software online is also a great way to make money.
It’s an exciting time. People are relying more every day on software that solves specific problems. But 89% of B2B buyers search online when they have to make a purchase. This means they are looking for software that can do a better job than what they have right now.
The industry is moving fast. It’s an exciting moment for big changes and you can be a part of it.
Let’s talk about how you can start selling software and what you’ll need to do it.
How to Start Selling Software Online: The Essential Guide
1. Find Your Software Niche
2. Cover the Basics
3. How to Effectively Sell Software
4. Supporting Your Software for Maximum Growth
A quick note: You don’t have to have coding skills to sell software. Many successful startups hire programmers to create their system or application. Selling software successfully requires a lot of different skill sets, so if you feel like you have a good idea and have a high level of skill in marketing and customer service, this could be a great fit for you.
1. Find Your Software Niche
Software is a broad term, so it can mean many things. Software usually falls into two categories, application software and system software. So there are a ton of ways you can approach building software, so it’s important to know who you’re making it for.
Software is a digital product, which means there is less financial risk and more opportunity for passive income. Digital products offer great profit margins! But low risk doesn’t mean no risk. It can be tempting to come up with a great idea without evaluating demand and value for your audience. It’s easy to skimp on quality when you have a low starting budget. Don’t fall into these traps!
There are tons of chances to create quality software that appeals to your audience.
As you think about software niches, remember that what you make needs to help someone solve or avoid a problem. Software is useful because it makes it easy to work through a complex process. A great software product should be as simple to understand as an eBook or video, but it’s also interactive, which should make it more efficient too!
Niche software is perfect for someone selling software for the first time because you can start with a small group of users and a specific problem. You may already be an expert in your niche and not even know it.
Here are some common industries and the software they might need:
- Land management
- Farm management
- Pest control software
- Affiliate software
- B2B ecommerce platform
- Business management
- Construction estimating software
- Bid management
- Construction scheduling software
- Real estate CRM
- Admissions software
- Classroom management
- Class registration
- Referral software
- Forestry management
- Fuel management
- Mining software
- Oil and gas software
- Game development
- Mobile event apps
- Public relations
- Accounting software
- Banking software
- Barcoding software
- Catering software
- Food delivery
- Food traceability
- Android Kiosk software
- Chiropractic software
- Dental practice software
- Medical billing
- Appointment scheduling software
- Carpet cleaning software
- Dry cleaning software
- Event management
- Hostel management
- Apparel management software
- Dock scheduling
- Manufacturing execution
- A/B testing
- Brand management
- Content marketing
- Lead capture
- Background check software
- CRM software
- Job board software
Once you find your niche, think about the problem you want to solve. During a regular business day you solve hundreds of problems with your computer. You may not think about it that way, because it’s what you do and these everyday activities become subconscious habits. But what if you can help someone save time, just by making one tiny thing easier?
For example, I worked in higher education for 16 years. I’ve used many different education CRMs, but none worked exactly right for the scale, audience, and communication pipeline I used to recruit prospective students. One CRM made it difficult to sync emails with my inbox, so I sometimes had 3 or 4 different email threads going with the same student, a big problem when you’re working with hundreds of students! Another didn’t work on my native operating system, and my computer was old enough that the remote desktop would activate the spinning wheel of death every time I turned it on. Those are some of the operational details you’ll need to think about.
Another example, one of the schools I worked for recruited students in kindergarten as well as community college students! One school was a two-year program with low tuition, another charged upwards of $70,000 USD per year. Those kinds of differences will affect what your prospective customers are thinking about and what they’re willing to pay. To create effective tools for a paying audience you’ll need to understand their problems at a high level of detail.
Most developers actively work on side projects like these all the time. Not every project is right for monetization, so you may need to do some intensive research and brainstorming to find the perfect product in the perfect software niche for you.
2. Cover the Basics
If you’re just learning how to start selling software online, chances are you’re already a developer, and that can be a big advantage.
You’ll have a better sense of what coding language will work best for your idea and which forums want to hear about it. You’ll also have a better understanding of what it will really take to execute your idea and what to watch for in the user experience.
But being a software engineer is no guarantee of success. Development is at the top of most jobs for introverts lists. If you like to work on your own and don’t enjoy a lot of conversation, marketing might not be your strong point. Customer service might be your worst nightmare.
Then again, every person is different. To sell software online you’ll need a diverse set of skills to bring your product from idea to reality to success. If you understand your strengths and weaknesses going in, you can make anything happen.
If you’re not a developer, you can sell software too! A few recommendations before you keep reading:
Invest in great developers
It will save you time and money in the long run, and you will create a much better product. If you don’t know what a great developer looks like, ask potential candidates about the flaws they see in your idea during your first conversation. You want someone to collaborate with, someone who can ask insightful questions and make your idea work better.
Get involved in the development process
You may not know how to write the code for the product you want, but it’s your vision. You need to clearly communicate your expectations in detail and be part of each stage in the process.
Invest in maintenance
Any software product will require regular updates and bug fixes from a professional to maintain strong initial sales.
Once you’re done creating your product, it’s important to do some user testing. No matter how much help you get as you create your product, there are tiny bits of user experience that make a big difference in the popularity of your product after it’s released. Once a user had a bad experience, you might not get another chance to win them over, so it’s important to get it right the first time.
When you’re doing your first round of testing, find your smartest friends and ask them to actively look for issues and roadblocks. Then do another round of user testing with the most particular shoppers you know. Customer experience is everything when it comes to creating a lasting software business.
Selling software online is really easy. All you need to do is add a digital product to your Selz store.
Here’s how you do it:
- Log into your Selz account
- Click on Items > All > Add item
- Select Digital as the product type
- Upload your software file
- From here, you can add a license key for added digital security or extra product details like an instructional video
3. How to Effectively Sell Software
While software is a huge market, a small number of big businesses get the majority of attention. To stand out in a competitive field, great marketing is essential. There are many different strategies you can use to market your software, and you may find that some strategies work better than others depending on your niche, and your personality.
You started with a niche, so it’s a good idea to connect with the biggest fans in that niche as soon as you can. These users may be the first to use your software, and if they like what they see, they’re the most likely to tell their friends.
Head to forums and chat rooms where your audience hangs out. For many people these forums are a fun hobby and they dedicate a lot of time and attention to their posts and comments. Head into these forums and spend a couple days reading posts and comments. With a little time you’ll start to see the leaders of the group.
Get to know your influencers
There may be just a handful, but these are your influencers. They may not look like the ones you see on Instagram, but these potential users could be the key to your successful launch. Get involved and connect with these leaders. Let them know that you’ve noticed them and trust their expertise.
Don’t head into forums and ask these people to make a purchase right away. This is important, because they probably live in a different online world than you do, and it may be harder to reach them with traditional marketing. Members of small niches are also more likely to support small businesses. They search harder for the tools they need most.
This population could be a great place to find users for your second round of beta testing. You might want to ask them to write a guest post on your blog or to be a guest on your podcast. Ask for their opinion on your marketing campaign ideas. Make these people your trusted advisors for any marketing efforts.
Video is powerful
Your software is selling a new product, and the best way to make it easy to understand something new is video. You can use this medium to create effective ads, organic how-to content, and useful instructions to support new customers. With Selz you can add a video to every product listing, making it easy for new customers to quickly understand what your software can do.
This video is a great example:
Once you get to the marketing stage you’ve been around your new software for a while, so you may start to think some features are more intuitive than they felt when you first started the product development process. It’s important to start each video from the perspective of a beginner, so bring in new faces or fresh eyes to make sure that you are communicating the details in a way that your audience will get it, and get excited.
Sell software everywhere
Multichannel selling is your best option for selling your software online. A pay-per-click ad is a great way to grab attention, so are stories and promoted posts on Instagram. Write blog posts and optimize your product listings for SEO.
Multichannel is about more than digital marketing. Industry conferences, and events are great places to connect with potential customers. You can even sell your digital products in person with a point of sale system.
4. Supporting Your Software for Maximum Growth
Customer service is the most important thing you can invest in when you’re selling software online. Many new businesses funnel all of their budget into marketing and miss the most important opportunity for solid growth- current customers.
Once you have just a handful of trials or sales, your best source for continued revenue is your network of happy customers. Whether they tell their friends or buy more of your products, customer service is essential. To keep those customers happy, you’ll want to keep more in mind than just great 24/7 customer service.
Be the expert or train your team
Customers want to talk to someone who has insider knowledge of your software and can quickly solve their unique problems. If someone is contacting your support directly they’re looking for more than the information they can find on your website or they need someone to walk them through step by step.
If you’re not able to handle complex questions personally in a timely manner (and timely doesn’t mean what it did just a couple of years ago!) you’ll need to thoroughly train your support team. You’ll also want to set up a simple system to quickly address bug fixes and other anomalies.
Reviews are a huge part of online culture. And customers want to see social proof. People need to know that your product will actually deliver on what it promises, and your customers are their most trusted source for that information.
To facilitate reviews of your software, find ways to make the most challenging parts of your process easy and fun. Add trust seals to your homepage to reassure customers about payment safety. Make your privacy and return policies fun and interesting to read. Make your help documentation as comprehensive as you can and add screenshots and videos that help your customers visualize each step as it should happen.
Selling software online is about finding your customers, understanding what they need and showing them the ways that your product can help.
Ready to get started?
The software industry is booming right now and more huge changes are coming soon. It’s time to move from idea to reality.
Start your research today and get active in forums for your software niche. Put together a plan to market, sell and support your product.
Selz is the ecommerce platform for digital products because we chose to add features just for digital sellers like unlimited bandwidth and streaming video. Our merchants excel at selling software and other digital products. Sign up for a 14-day free trial today!