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When I got started with my first SaaS, I had no idea what a Lifetime Deal (LTD) was or how it worked. A LTD is an introductory offer for your product where the the customer pays up front for a perpetual license. This is something you can use to get your first set of users, but it comes at a cost that you need to be aware of! More on that below.
I did a lifetime deal with one of my products, BrainLeaf. This section is going to take you through what I learned, the mistakes I made, and how I could have made twice as much money with some planning and a little more work.
Lifetime deals can really help grow your business and help you gain traction, but it is important to realize that LTDs are not an A-Series funding round, they need to be done when the product is ready for market.
If you try to use a LTD to take a product to market that really isn’t ready, your troubles are never going to end. The reason for this is that most LTD marketplaces have a no questions asked refund policy. If users don’t like what they’re getting, you’re going to have to refund them within a certain amount of time, so all that hard work you put in to get the system ready and sell it is going to be wasted. I’ve seen this happen a few times now where systems were rushing to market or at least to revenue and they fell flat on their faces when they did a LTD.
PROTIP: Remember that little problems become big problems when you scale your business. A little issue for one user can suddenly become a business-crushing issue for a thousand people. So fix the little things and make sure your system and support systems are solid before starting an LTD!
Most LTDs will tell you this upfront. But some systems are dependent on the user starting their signup process then paying. This isn’t going to work. If you’re doing a LTD, you need the user to be able to pay first for as many licenses as they want when they get to your payment landing page. A lot of people will want to buy several licences at one time, so make sure they know how many they can buy.
People are going to want to know things like:
- How many licenses can I buy?
- Can I resell licenses?
- What exactly does this cover?
- What if I upgrade, will this still apply?
- What happens if you change the system? Will I still get the same deal?
- How many [whatever your value metric is] does this cover?
These are all reasonable questions, and several of these things I just didn’t consider when I did my LTD. Unless you’ve been buying LTDs for a while or have been through the sales process before, most people just wouldn’t think about this stuff. So make sure to have a page that clearly explains what the LTD covers, what it does not cover, how it works, what the value metric is and how this deal applies to that metric, etc. If you don’t have this page, you’re just going to end up having to answer these questions about a hundred times a day while the deal is running.
In a hurry to get to market? Need the extra cash? Thinking to yourself, “If I just had an extra 5k, I’d be all set” or something similar? Well my friend, doing a LTD is the wrong choice for you. If your product isn’t ready for market, find another way to raise your money. The system needs to work very well and be in a good spot for support and growth before you do your LTD. There is a reason that “LTDs” are sometimes called “Likely to Disappear”, and it’s not because the entrepreneurs doing these projects planned things well.
On top of that, there are ALWAYS groups looking for a new LTD. There is a group out there somewhere with a following that will promote your LTD for you. If not, then maybe your system is too niche, isn’t useful, or doesn’t work. In which case, a LTD isn’t the right choice for you anyway.
You probably realized this already if your system works for a particularly niche market. Some systems just aren’t going to work out on the LTD markets. A lot of SaaS businesses focus on a niche that has a target market that is not aware of LTDs. If that’s the case, doing a LTD just isn’t going to work out for you.
When I did my LTD, it took a lot longer than I had expected before my support queue settled down. I figured that maybe it would take a week or two, but it ended up taking full time for about three weeks then an additional half to three quarters time for the following week. In other words, it’s going to be a ton of work to get this going, so don’t plan on doing anything else while the deal is running and for a few weeks afterwards.
If you follow all the suggestions in this list, you’ll be in better shape, but there are still going to be issues the come with scaling. It could be that your team works on an American time zone and all of your buyers are in Europe, or that the system grinds down as the number of concurrent users increases, or your people just get tired. Either way, you’re going to run into problems that you don’t expect. So just plan extra time and money towards this endeavor.
This was a mistake I made. There were a few small issues in the system that weren’t pressing issues for us because we knew they were there. After a while of using our system with those tiny issues, we just didn’t think about them anymore and they slipped from our list. But with a thousand new users, none of which realize this is small and they can just move past it, those little issues become huge issues very fast.
You’re not going to please everyone, and you will get requests for refunds. Whether the company marketing your LTD requires you to give a no questions asked refund or not, you are still going to need to be able to do it, and at least a few different people on your team need to know how to do it. My recommendation is that team members that man your in-app chats
First off, make sure you have an email ticketing system in place. Without a method and system for handling these requests, your customer requests are going to get real confusing real fast and your team is going to start missing or dropping requests. This leads to quickly unhappy customers and refund requests.
The way I have seen a lot of groups do this is to sell their basic package or plan of their product in the LTD, but then have the pro plan or upsells ready to go. Make sure that the basic package is worth the money and that most people will be happy with that, but have features in the pro plan that everyone clearly wants or needs. This gets people in, but gives you the leverage to upsell them to the next level easily. I probably could have doubled my revenue by doing this.
There are going to be questions. Lots of them. So having a chatbot ready and tested will make you and your support team’s life a lot better. Most users expect chatbots these days, so don’t feel like this is driving people away. It is in fact making things a lot easier. But you need to plan it out and do a good job setting it up, then test with existing users what they use the system for. In other words, iterate on your chatbot usage before doing your LTD. It will save countless hours of time and is well worth the upfront spend.
The week you do your LTD, you are going to have a huge influx of people coming to your system. So make sure that you have MORE than one support person. When we did ours, we had 3 support people and it wasn’t enough. Right away, each person had over 20 chats running at the same time. It became overwhelming very fast. Had we put in place a better chatbot up front, things may have been different. But I have a feeling that just having one or two people still would have been a mistake.