Well, look, one way or another the only way you are going to get prospects and customers is awareness. This is why advertising has been a big industry since the dawn of time 🙂
Cold calling is just one way to do that. And outbound (cold calling 2.0) does work, at least, it often does. More on that here: Inbound or Outbound Sales? The Answer is Yes – SaaStr
But many of us aren’t good at it. So what else builds awareness? You can make a list yourself, but it includes:
- Online advertising (SEM). This is tough in SaaS — low volumes and high cost. But some folks do make it work.
- Content marketing and SEO. This is “free” if you ignore the time put in, but results take time. Write a post a day about the industry and see where it takes you. Try to be authentic. But don’t expect results in a week.
- Events & tradeshows. These do work, believe it or not. Especially the top 3 events in an industry. These leads sometimes have slightly longer timelines, so be patient. But go.
- PR. Yes, getting in TechCrunch will help if you sell to tech especially. Maybe only a little, though, if it’s just one piece. You need a steady drumbeat of PR to really make it perform as lead gen.
- Purchased and hacked lists. Email out to the most qualified list you can legitimately get. Cost is low, performance varies.
- Referrals. Invest in your existing customers, even if there are just a few. Have a customer conference. Go visit them. Get on a jet. Ask politely for referrals. In the long run, all great software business are build on word-of-mouth and referrals. The earlier you get this going, the better.
- Outbound & cold calling. If you are good at it, it works. Outbound allows you to target the buyers you want, not just the prospects that see your marketing efforts.
You have to get good at a few things on this list. Not all of them, and certainly not all of them at first. That doesn’t need to include outbound in the early days.