It depends on the service, and of course what you mean by "telemarketing"?
Telemarketing generally referrs to hiring non-sales professionals on an hourly basis at a low hourly wage to auto-dial and read scripts. When you hire a competent sales professional (and pay accordingly), it's generally called "inside sales" and works quite differently. It's a quantity vs. quality thing: telemarkerters can make dozens of calls an hour (and close a small percent), where as a sales pro may only make a dozen a day (but close many more).
Telemarketing works great for impulse, transactional sales: magazines, etc. The more product knowledge and deviation from the script is needed, the less effective it becomes.
Inside sales works great for large sales (several $K and up) with large commissions (10% and up), but smaller the sale and the smaller the commission, the less effective it becomes (a good sales pro will not get excited over $100 in commission).
If you're inbetween... then you should look at hiring hire a competiting marketing agency/professional. See this answer for more details on how to seek look for help like this. Or you could work towards become a marketing guru yourself.... which obviously means a lot of learning curves to climb and time lost doing so.
It's best to start by looking for spots online where your niche customers spend their time and advertise there. I can't say without knowing about what kind of SaaS you are selling, but I would assume you know your clients.
Telemarketing may still work for some services, but technology specific services tells me you should focus your advertising online. You can do a lot with online newsletters for very little money with ConstantContact.
Thanks for opening this topic. Telemarketing is an effective direct response vehicle for all industries, including IT and software. But then again, it should be done properly by the right people who have the right skills in sales and marketing. If you want to generate sales leads for your company, you must have the know-how and enough manpower in teleprospecting.
I would suggest looking into how Hubspot operate (ullo Darmesh - chime in here eh?)
Once you've signed up for a trial they have an 'advisor' talk you through the trial along with lots of prepared goodies like action plans, ideas books etc to get you onto a running start. (Part of the problem with their model is that it isn't an instant payback so you need more of a leg up)
From the other end of the process (though I didn't signup in the end) it came across as genuinely useful and a way to help us rather than a PITA sales call.
On the other end of the spectrum anyone cold-sales telemarketing will never get more than 15 seconds from me.
This slide-desk is pretty useful (not hubspot AFAIK) and you will likely find lots of great info on onstartups.com
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