My product solves a known problem for a specific industry and I am wondering how best to sell this. Eventhough it is a SAAS based product, our leads won't come online to search for this type of product. I am wondering how best to market this? Do I still need to rely on inbound marketing for this type of product?
So far I am thinking of tradeshows, cold calls, referals with limited online presence until we get traction. Is this makes sense?
If they won't come to you, I'd suggest going to them. Find a few potential clients that you think would be a good fit for your product and target them directly.
Offer them reduced rates, premium support, whatever it takes to get them on your platform and build a solid base of clients which you can then use to demonstrate your platform to other potential clients via the more traditional avenues you suggest.
When people aren't actively seeking out your solution I usually assume you are currently the only one in the market? Or that it's a new idea, or solving a newer problem that people wouldn't think to search for or even understand how to search for it.
For products like this you need to create the market and get it infront of the people who could use it. This will be more traditional methods like you mentioned:
Before you start to market your new concept product you'll need to cover a few bases.
Brand = Target Market + Category + Point of Difference
Target Market: Who is my customer? Where can I find my customer? If you can't answer these questions you're not ready to market. You have do break down the population in definable segments. Then you have to come up with explanations about how people a segment behave and purchase products.
Category: Your have to define your product in terms that your target market can understand. The iPhone is a telephone, first and foremost. It has all of these cool functions and fringe benefits, but its primary function is a communication devise. With your new concept product, its going to be hard to categorize. You'll have to educate your target market. What is the product used for? This is know as pioneering (making a new category). Your marketing campaign is two-fold, educational + promotional.
Point of Difference: Why should your target market use your product instead of your competition's product. Your point of difference will be the platform of your marketing campaign.
Once you've covered these bases, your marketing strategy will be easier to formalize.