Is telemarketing an effective sales technique for SaaS?

Has anyone here had success driving sales for their SaaS startup using telemarketing, or is it usually just a waste of money and a way to annoy potential customers?

* source -- http://answers.onstartups.com/questions/20036/is-telemarketing-an-effective-sales-technique-for-saas

TELEMARKETING = BIG NO.

When was the last time you bought something from a telemarketer?

If you think telemarketing will generate top of mind awareness for your brand, it's not going to work. As I mentioned before, PERCEPTION = MOTIVATION.

When you intrude on someone to tell them your message, what impression are you creating with your audience? "Buy me -- I need the business!"

I don't know what product or service your brand is about, but let me give you an example. Let's say you are selling a VOIP that is similar to skype. We'll call it a skype-clone.

As we know, off the top of everyone's mind, skype IS voip. I know a number of skype-clones out there that have better features, but guess which one I am using? Skype. Almost everyone I know also uses skype. Why is that? Because everyone else is using skype.

I once installed a BRAND X on my PC and encouraged all my relatives to use BRAND X as well. They didn't. Too much effort. Where to download? How to install? Configuration? What if it doesn't work? Fuhgedaboutit.

Skype is there. Everyone uses it. Why bother with brand x?

This is the perception that you have to deal with. This is why telemarketing will not work. Even if you were to give away your skype-clone for free, it is going to take a lot of time and resources to get them to use your product/service.

Now that I've got that off my chest, how do I propose to market this SAAS?

Answer these questions --
How are you different? Why should they buy yours?
You need to set yourself apart from the leading brand. You need to create a different niche/category in people's mind and own that.

Going back to the skype-clone example, how can I create a new niche? I don't know. You created this product/service. Tell me what's different about it. If you can't answer those two questions and decide to go ahead with telemarketing, good luck.

If telemarketing will not work, what will?

Not advertising. Not SEO. These are short term solutions to a long term problem. It gets your message out there, but everyone else is doing that. I call it "noise polluting the mind."

Here's the key. 90% of consumers still rely on peer recommendations. What you want is to get people using your product and get them talking about it. To do this, your product/service has to scratch that itch.

Start with a small group. Get them to build a community around your brand. Do not sell. Support, interact, contribute, engage & offer solutions. Instead of spending big bucks for advertising, channel your funds towards building this community.

It's going to take time to build your brand this way, but that's how the world works in today's social web. People would rather get feedback first before making a decision.

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