I've built a million dollar in annual recurring revenue for my first company (TelClarity) using an almost entirely automated sales process before making an exit to focus on revenue consulting. Since then I've worked with over 25+ different clients in industries ranging from technology to construction producing processes that have gone on to produce millions of dollars in annual recurring revenue while keeping sales and marketing head count limited. I love talking sales, technology, and marketing and have helped many entrepreneurs cross the chasm and grow their companies.
I've worked on marketplace projects and I can tell you that the cost of building a platform will be relatively minimal.
Essentially you're building a database with 3 tables: supply side (contractors), demand side (consumers), and activities that connect jobs/tasks/quotes between suppliers and consumers. Build a UI and a nice website and you're set.
That's the easy part.
The biggest struggle that marketplaces face is filling both sides so that there are enough contractors to fill the jobs and enough consumers asking for jobs.
Getting the supply side is relatively easy since there is often little risk for them using the service, but getting consumers to use the service is where most marketplaces struggle. Getting traffic and ultimately conversions is tricky and extremely expensive. The trick to overcoming this is to use email to activate and re-activate customers so they become repeat users. But getting them signed up for the first time is still going to be a huge challenge.
Before creating the platform I would highly recommend spending time building up a list of potential consumers before writing a line of code. That way when you launch you'll at least have a few people that can get started using it right away.
It's pretty simple: you define the target customer, create messaging to match their pain points, you do outreach via email and/or cold calling, schedule demos and close deals. Inbound marketing will play a role too, but that takes time you don't have.
Of course, the devil is in the details.
The target customer needs to be defined down to an individual level and you need to validate the specific pain point for that specific target customer. Moreover, depending on the impact of your product, you may need to create messaging for any potential influencers in the decision making process.
Once you've created the messaging you'll need to build a prospecting list. The easiest way of doing this is to use LinkedIN to create a narrow prospect list. Ideally you'll have a small group of around 50 target accounts to start, this way you can fine tune the outreach and messaging strategy for each account.
Assuming you've gotten your messaging right you can expect a 15-20% response rate of which maybe 50% will lead to a demo. In my experience, this is where most companies run into problems because they assume that demo = qualified lead and rush through this process.
The key is in the follow up because most of the sales process is going to happen without your involvement; prospects WILL seek out information from other sources and compare you against your competitors. This is where having a strong content strategy to reinforce the value of the product is crucial.
At a simplistic level, success is Saas sales is based on the volume of productive activity multiplied by your conversion rate at each stage. Setting up systems to measure activities is crucial for scalability.
Hope this helps.