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Ask HN: Do you cold call?
90 points by nahcub on Jan 23, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 56 comments
For your service, do you reach out to potential customers without any referral or lead? If you do, how well does it work? Do you have any advice?

I get cold-called all the time. Here are the mistakes people make:

1. They waste my time (which is also a waste of their time).

That is, they are selling something that I don't need, generally because they don't know anything about me. If you're cold calling me, you should have read through our company's web site already. It's only fifteen pages or so; you can skip the press releases. You don't know what business I'm in? Why should I bother with you?

2. They are wasting my time.

Frequently I get called by salespeople who don't know what they're selling, except the name of it, a two sentence description that they memorized but don't understand, and they want to set up a meeting. You have a software product? What OS does it run on? Does it have a web interface? You're selling consulting services but you can't describe them because your answer for everything is "we can find people to do that, they are experts!"?

Go away.

3. They are wasting my time.

I already talked to you yesterday, last week, last month or last quarter. We discussed your product or service and it was clear from that phone call that we would never be a good fit for each other. (Your product only runs on Windows. Your service is Exchange consulting. You want to help process our customers' confidential data...)

>Frequently I get called by salespeople who don't know what they're selling, except the name of it, a two sentence description that they memorized but don't understand, and they want to set up a meeting.

"What's the difference between a software salesman and a used car salesman?"

"The used car salesman knows he's lying, and can probably drive."

I have been dodging calls for the past 3 years from a company that makes Java profiling tools. I am not and have never been a Java dev.

JRebel and I had a long-distance phone relationship too ... I stopped by their booth at JavaOne and explained in detail why I literally couldn't use their product and they stopped calling - why should they waste their own time. I did however explain that I understood their use-case and would call them back if I ever needed their product.

That is precisely who it was.

In my young years I did telemarketing. It's tough but, one of the best learning experience of my life.

I will repeat this in the end. But learn who you need to talk to. (Don't accept a no from someone who cant say yes) a lot of your time will be spend with finding the right person.

Here is my advice.

1. Write down a sales pitch with some alternatives depending on what the answer is. It should be structured something like this.

Step 1 Who you are, who you want to talk to.

Once you reach the person you need to talk to:

Step 2 Who you are, why you are calling, what your product do, what your offer to them is (always have some kind of offer like 20% off or something like that)

Step 3 Answer questions, write down customer skepticism and learn from it. (you will become better and better at answering these questions and even able to forsee patterns)

Step 4 Close the deal, tell exactly what is going to happen next. Follow up with what you promised.

2. Practice this again and again.

3. Make sure your goal is to close something. (either a meeting, sales or sending more info)

4. Create a sales funnel where you places your customers depending on how close they are to a sale.

5. Make sure you understand who you need to talk to (never accept a no from a person who cant say yes)

Rinse and repeat.

Keep in mind cold calling is a numbers game.

Keep in mind cold calling is a numbers game.

And the more people we have playing it, the more those of us trying to accomplish something outside of sales have to deal with inane pitches by people who refuse to accept "no" as an answer unless they hear it repeatedly while wasting our time.

Please don't encourage this behavior. It's good that you feel you got something out of that experience, but if no one solicited your call and you're calling anyway, you've joined a deservedly-loathed lower class of humanity.

I think you are reading too much into what I mean with numbers game.

There is plenty of legitimate cold calling one can do without pissing someone off if you do your homework and make sure you actually are offering them something they might need.

(for instance figuring out if they have recently complained about current service X they are using)

Just keep in mind that your conversion ratio is going to be low and you only have so much time to build a business.

Advice: don't cold call hoping to sell. Unlike inbound methods, you have no idea where they are in the buying cycle. It could be years before you close, so don't bother trying.

Instead call to get information. Most people want to help. Ask them questions about things relevant to your service to qualify them. Ask them if they want information about your service and collect an email address. Add them to a nurture campaign so if they ever are looking to buy you're at the top of their list.

I got a marketing assistant to make these type of calls for a couple of weeks with a 60% success rate of getting an email address. In Australia email permission is opt in. I don't know what the conversion rate of the nurture campaign ended up being because I left the company.

This is great advice, imo.

The key being "most people want to help". The best sales guy I've yet known used to demand of me to "Just ask! People will tell you". It's true. Don't be a pushy ass, just ask, and retreat if someone isn't forthcoming.

Most people want to help.

It's very immature of me, and I'll own that, but the number one thing you can do to get me to never, ever do business with your company is to cold call me.

It's just reeks of unprofessionalism, in my opinion. If you don't care about me enough to respect my time, then why on earth would you care about me enough to provide me with a good customer service experience after you've already hooked me?

I've had companies call me before claiming to work at google, claiming that my company isn't doing enough /google something/ and that they can help! If I pay them $foo, then I will be number in the google!

It's really annoying. This is why things like this: http://www.itslenny.com/ (which is hilarious, btw) exist.

I don't do cold calling much, but the few times I've done it have produced almost everything good I've ever achieved professionally has come from a few well targeted cold calls or emails

I'm an LSAT instructor, and author of LSAT explanations. Here's the result of my cold calling

1. I contacted a small company in Toronto that did LSAT and SAT instruction. I'm in Montreal. I called and asked the secretary if they would like to be in Montreal.

She handed me to the founder, who said yes, interviewed me, and I'm still doing work for them. I've traveled the country teaching courses, added new tests to my skillset, and been able to build a private tutoring practice based on things I learned from them.

2. I emailed the guy who runs LSAT Blog, the major blog in my niche. As a result of a few back and forth emails, he asked me if I'd like to write LSAT explanations he could sell.

This led to royalties from him, and manuscripts I later turned into print books, which pay me even more royalties. I now sell the explanations through other online affiliates as well, and turned them into my own site

3. I emailed the founder of another LSAT prep company, just to say hi, after his company experienced a setback.

This led to them bringing me on board for a six month term. I learned a lot, and now they refer me tutoring students.

I think there may be others. But given that these three are 90% of my business success, I probably wouldn't even BE in business if it weren't for cold calls.

The key to all of them was that I was somehow relevant to the people I contacted. They could help me, and I could help them.

The more targeted, the better.

"Hi, I'm really not sure who I need to speak to but if I could take 30 seconds to explain who I am and what I'm looking for do you think we could work out if it's worth me speaking to anyone? Would that be ok?"

"Great thanks. My names is X, and my company does Y. Does it sound like there might be someone who it would be good for me to talk to? If it's a no then that is absolutely fine." Then go quiet.

This is the best opener I have used and it gets me a name and my call forwarded 80% of the time - which is the main aim of a cold call, if you're going in with getting a sale in mind it will always feel like a massive mountain.

Also, if in the 30 second explanation you can get something about them in first it works even better. Also, don't go over your 30 seconds.

The modern cold call is a cold email. Although I've done straight cold calls and had a small team in the Philippines, a lot of businesses do not like calls (esp. Restaurants and service businesses). There is a great book on cold emails called Predictable Revenue[0]. link: http://www.amazon.com/Predictable-Revenue-Business-Practices...

Edited now that I am on computer to add more detail:

Some of the key points in the book are: -Split sales team into two parts, one group that only sends out opening emails, one set that closes the leads/sets up meetings. Once a meeting is set, the opener passes the prospect onto the closer. -the first email should be three sentences introducing who you are, what you do (can put clients you work with) and what you are looking for (appointment or referral)

I get pitched by a lot of companies, and one company had used this exact pitch on me and out of hundreds they were one of the few to get me to take an appointment call. Months later when I read this book, I recognized their tactic and went back and read the email and it was 100% based on what came out of this book.

[0] edit: misspelled title

Did you mean Predictable Revenue? Just checking.

Do you mean predictable revenue, the book about salesforce? I can't find predictive revenue on Amazon.

Yes, best thing to do is research the hell of them before you make any call or email. Some great articles that I've shared with my team:

http://www.startupmoon.com/how-i-got-meetings-at-twitter-lin... http://life-longlearner.com/how-to-cold-email-prospects/ http://okdork.com/2013/04/18/cold_email/

Definitely. Outbound sales was how we validated our business model before we wrote a single line of code. There is so much you can learn.

Outbound sales, be it cold calls, cold email or warm intros, are very powerful. Keep in mind "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility". Don't waste people's time. Ask for permission to speak. Listen.

Recommended reading: Jason Lemkin http://www.quora.com/Jason-M.-Lemkin

How GuideSpark Tripled Revenues Two Years in a Row, Growing to Almost Eight Figures in ARR — All Using Outbound Sales http://saastr.quora.com/How-GuideSpark-Tripled-Revenues-Two-...

This is really interesting. Validating your idea is so important, and unless you know a bunch of people who have X problem or are in X industry and aren't going to just 'be nice' about your idea, then you do need to ring around.

I did a little bit of cold calling when I was running a start-up. It's supposed to be really intimidating, and I have to say that before each call, I'd take a few minutes to warm myself up and think 'the worst they can do is say no'.

However, I went into EVERY call, knowing the person I was calling. I'd research via LinkedIn, and find out everything I could about that person, and the business.

I was amazed at how many times I'd contact somebody and they'd already heard of my business, and were keen to do business with me. At the same time, more often than not, things didn't work out. But as some have said the key is to know what you're selling, and you're not selling your product, you're selling what your product can do for them. Make sure you're able to speak to that. "I thought it would be great if you guys had x,y,z and could do a,b,c for your customers. It would ease problem a for you, and I'd estimate, based on what I know of your company, increased revenues of y".

Make it easy for them, hand them your business on a silver platter. Like I said, most times you won't get the sale, but you'll make more contacts in the industry, they may recommend you to other potential partners, or who knows.

Don't think "I'm going to sell them", think "I'm going to help them".

^ This here is the best advice for non-sales folks doing sales call. This man did a lot of reading on sales.

You basically have change your mindset about it. You are not selling things to them (and no money is even exchange on the first call either), you are trying to help them.

-- No one likes to be sold to. Stop selling. Also don't think of it as cold-call.

Think of yourself as a consultant.

Think of yourself as a student.

A student in business class, writing a report and researching a company. Find out their current news about their business, and recent trends affecting their industry. Now, can your product fill to relieve some of the workflow they have according to your research.

If so, the client will open up to you. At the end of the day, that client, that manager just wants to get their work done better. If your product does that, and you found out that recent issue, your product can help with. You got a good consulting gig starting to happen.

Once you have your report, write a cold email instead.

This is obviously highly dependent on industry, market, product, etc. I do cold e-mail (personal preference vs calling) but within some basic guidelines:

1) Target Potential Customers

Rather than blanket e-mail every person in my industry, I look for people and organizations that are significantly more likely to be receptive to my product. I've segmented my market based on highly-relevant characteristics to increase chances that my e-mail will be well received. The contact may even already be looking for a product like mine. I also keep an eye out for news articles and mentions for people in my space that show they are a relevant lead.

2) Do My Research

Nothing gets deleted faster than a stock e-mail. I research my prospective targets and try to understand what their situation is. What is their reputation in the market, what are they struggling with, and can my product help alleviate any of that? This shows that my e-mail is more than just SPAM and that I'm trying to develop a relationship.

3) Play It Slow and Develop a Relationship

As mentioned in other posts, cold calls can be as much for info as a sales lead. In some markets, its also about developing a relationship that may take a long time to convert. Even if someone's not interested in my product, if I can help them in another way (maybe an intro) I'll do it to keep the conversation going. Maybe down the road they'll return the favor by providing me a rec.

4) Let It Go

Followup is key, but beating someone up is a waste of time. If someone's not interested and doesn't want to be bothered I'll let it go. The last thing I want is to develop a bad reputation or be reported as SPAM.

I have amnesia / sleeping difficulty (being awake for ~20 hours, then sleep for 10), which means my waking cycles roll around. UK-based sales people, on the other hand, tend to do their cold calls at 10am sharp.

Long story short: when they call me, I'm generally in REM sleep, and have been for a mere 2 hours. After their interruption, I will not be able to sleep back, but will spend the next 10 hours in zombie mode.

I have found a fantastic new way to use this zombie time: looking up legal, and law services, small courts, corporate databases about their company, facebook of their personal, and any and all leveraged counter-offense methods, that will make these companies, and individuals within not exist ever, ever again.

Please for the love of all that is holy, respect TPS's do-not-call lists.

[1] See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6163051 for more

DON'T: Be scripted. Ask stupid questions that are supposed to be leading, like "Do you want to increase your revenue and cut costs?". Go straight into pitch mode. Call them so often that it pisses them off.

DO: Keep it brief, don't give the full pitch. Ask for 15 minutes on the calendar to explain in more detail. Ask if you caught them at a good time. If not, ask when would be better to call back. Leave a voicemail. Be casual and genuinely excited to talk to them, like hearing from an old friend. Send 3-4 sentence email, both for intro and to follow up ("My voicemail" subject lines get good open rates). Call multiple people at different levels in the organization (and ask if they're the right person to speak to).

I cold call for a living. By cold calling I mean 40 outbound calls and 15 emails or LinkedIn InMails on a regular outreach day.

Result: 6 figure income on a 70k base, for 4 years.

I also do Customer Development-type emails for my own side business, and for others (as-a-service).

Summary: it works. If you learn how to do it right.

Top tools: Stephan Schiffman's Telesales and Basho Email System.

Also: for cold calling to work you must have something of value, that solves a real pain/problem. Not something ephemeral like an app that, say, splits the dinner bill amongst friends.

We do but it doesn't work the same depending on the country. For example, in France (where we were originally based) and Europe, it's pretty effective if we call the company we target and ask for the right person (thank you Linkedin). Though, we recently moved in the US and the first calls we made didn't really work. Some people were even pissed that we called them from nowhere and where wondering how we got their phone numbers. Possibly relevant: We work in mobile advertising

A company that I started in the early 2000s used cold calling to generate leads. It was very affective to generate solid qualified leads. We were lucky that we go an experience cold caller that trained other younger sales people. Having someone (either an agency or a person in-house) helping you is key to your success.

IMO, a good cold caller will work very hard to get to the right person, if that person exist. They will be committed and relentless to generating the lead for their sales team. They will work on their script to a point where they have answers for most types of questions. They will use the tools that they are provided (e.g. salesforce) to ensure to keep a log of what they've done and their todo list. And they will be in constant contact with the sales team to ensure that all information is provided back to them in a structured manner.

If you think that cold callers are waisting your time, simply try and tell them that you are not interested or point them to a different person who may be interested (if that person exists). There's no point for a caller to place a call to someone who has no interest in buying their offering, that's just a waste of time. Cold callers are "not" telemarketers.

Shocking that a bunch of engineers don't like being cold-called ;-) But it's silly to write it off as a viable sales strategy. At my startup we've had a ton of success with cold-calling, and I've talked to software CMOs and VP Sales all over Boston that use it as a core part of their strategy.

If you're doing B2B sales in a relatively new category there's basically no other way to reach your early market; they're not googling for your category, and probably not even for a technical solution to it, especially if you're selling to a non-IT function (marketing, sales, finance, etc.).

In those contexts, cold-calling, done well, can help educate the market, create demand, and set the stage for later inbound efforts. Often we'll have a cold call where the prospect's response isn't "WTF you wasted my time" but "I had no idea this kind of thing existed; where were you 5 years ago?"

It's not easy; you have to select your targets carefully, and have a good pitch, not be too push, and get a lot of other things right to make it work, but it DOES work.

"Potential customers" is a key part of your phrase. If you have someone's contact information and you have some reason to believe they'll be interested in your service, that's a lead.

Without a referral or lead, if you're cold calling, you're calling someone who not only hasn't inquired about your service, but whom you have no reason to believe wants to hear from you. In my opinion, you have no place calling that person. If you choose to do so anyway, it's your responsibility to waste as little of their time as possible in as cordial a manner as you can. Hard sells are absolutely awful.

I only get upset with cold callers that don't quit the first time I say no. No matter how qualified you believe a lead is or how it's been validated/verified, if the person on the other end says no, don't push it. Maybe they'll just keep saying no, but maybe they'll remember you as the pushy jerk whose product/service they'll now never consider.

Yes. Building out a list of pre-qualified contacts, then "cold calling" by means of telephone or email is one of the best ways to get in front of people that your product/service can help. The key is to be respectful of everyone's time and come to the table with something of value. And of course, pushiness or over-persistence is never appreciated. Also, "cold call" doesn't mean "blind call". The sales person should have some notion of the prospect's business, their role in that organization, and exactly where this product or service might fit in.

To those that hate receiving cold calls, remember: most of these sales development folks that call leads are fresh out of school and simply trying to gain a foothold in a hyper-competitive space. Don't let them waste your time if that's what they're doing, but have a heart!

I have been doing a little cold calling recently. One thing I have understood from the various introduction statements is

1. Ask for the person's name or company's name first thing: this tells the person you are indeed looking for them

2. Do not sell in the first 20 seconds. Tell them you are looking for someone in their line of business and ask them if you can ask them a couple of questions

3. Ask them questions relating to their business

Only then do you explain how your business solves the problems. I have found that this recipe almost always makes it impossible for the target to say 'no' and cut the call. Once they answer your questions, they are interested to know how exactly you come into the picture. This process seems more successful than anything else for me.

if your not going to make at least $100/mo ($2000 CLTV) it's probably not going to be cost effective.

That would depend entirely on your conversion rate, cost per lead, and profit margin.

why do you feel this way?

Let's assume you have a cold list and you want to turn it into someone that's willing to talk to your sales person. So your going to get about 6 a shift let's call a shift 6 hrs. So, your at ~$10 a lead. Let's say you close 1 out of 10. On a free trial or something with minimal commitment. Now your at $100/trial. Now to convert them to an actual regularly paying customer your at another 1 out of 10, or $1000. Plus you have to pay the person that converts them to the free trial and get's their credit card#.

I get anywhere from 5-20 sales calls a day (not to mention cold emails and the blind-rage-inducing cold meeting spam, which lands the salesperson on my auto-block list). I don't have the time during the day to answer these, so I don't pick up my phone unless I recognize the number. I have my email in my voice mail message - I'm happy to review any email that comes in from a cold call. I may not respond, but often I'll file away a service and if something's a good fit, I'll follow up a bit later.

I decided I wanted to get into independent software development. I found a company ($1mm revenue) I'd done a little bit of business with (unrelated)

I sent them a mockup of what I thought their web-page should be (4 hours of work?), one meeting later I'd locked down a nice 5 figure contract to develop an internal app (they decided they didn't want a web page) and it looks to become an ongoing relationship.

The web page, I later found out, is what really hooked them, despite them not wanting it ultimately.

Not directly, no. But I work for a company that has a sales department that does cold calls.

Interestingly, organic traffic performs better than cold calling. By a decent margin. But, on the road sales blows both out of the water. Obviously.

So if your looking at marketing strategy, someone on the road might be a good investment (depending on the product and customer base).

We're in the extremely early stages our our B2B SaaS business - and cold calling has been extremely effective so far. We've gotten great feedback and battle-tested our hypothesis on "real customers".

Indeed, cold calling will not be a big part of our strategy going forward - but it's a great way to feel out the market.

Why will it not be part of the strategy? Too costly in terms of time based on profit you get out of it? Or there wouldn't be profit if you scaled this up with extra support?

Cold calling can work if you are selling the right thing. But you still have to qualify people ahead of time. If you're selling a domain name, then finding companies that might be interested in buying (like the ones already bidding on the keyword) is a way of qualifying for selling domains.

It's more "cold email" for us, but yes to some extent. I think some of the keys are to be:

1. brief

2. relevant

3. professional

I think in terms of the cold email pitches I get, and think of which ones I'm willing to consider and which ones I don't. Given that, my thinking is something like this:

Regarding 1 - If you send me a rambling 6,000 word manuscript, I'm not reading it, and I probably will hit "delete" in after about 4 seconds of skimming unless something in there really catches my eye.

Regarding 2 - this may be the most important one. If you spam me with some random crap that has no connection to what I'm doing, and/or anything I need, I'm hitting "delete" pretty much from the get-go. And if you want to sell me something, you need to talk about my needs, not your product or service. And you should have done your research ahead of time. If it's apparent to me that I'm getting something that's the result of a mail-merge run with nothing to hint that you know anything what my company does, where we are, how we operate, etc., guess what? "Delete".

Regarding 3 - If you get the name of the company wrong, have shitty grammar and / or spelling, or otherwise send me something that is barely comprehensible, it's going in the bin in the blink of an eye. And being a non-native English speaker isn't going to buy you much of an exception. I'm in America, if you want to do business with me, learn to speak English. Likewise if you're emailing somebody in Spain... learn Spanish. And get somebody to proof read your message that's fluent. I'll tolerate a small amount of sloppiness in terms of grammar and what-have you, but you have to at least make an effort.

So, my theory is... do some research up front, find out as much about the customer as you can up-front. Write something in clear English (or the appropriate language) using proper spelling and grammar. Keep it fairly short, and focus on the customer's needs, situations and problems. But I don't mean to assume they have a certain problem. I mean, phrase things in terms of "We've noticed that companies like yours often have problems like X... We are specialists in X, and I'd like a few moments to find out more about your company and whether or not you are really dealing with X". Something based on the "Core Story" approach put out by Chet Holmes would also be received well (by me anyway) as long as it isn't too long, and is backed up with credible data, etc.

Do that, and I think you have at least a shot. In my case, if you email me like that, I may simply not need whatever it is you're selling... but at least I'll read your email, consider it, and probably even reply. If you send crap, it's going straight to the trash can, often mostly (or completely) unread.

Do this... go through a bunch of the spam you get, and figure out which emails you receive well, and which ones evoke the "delete after four seconds" response. Model your own communications more after the first batch, and don't do whatever the people in the second batch are doing.

I assume from the way you worded your response that you are the one sending "cold email."

That's spam. That's the definition of spam.

You and your company are spammers. You need to stop.

You and your company are spammers. You need to stop.

Yeah, I felt that way at one time as well. Idealism is a good thing. But it doesn't pay the bills. And, pedantry over definitions aside, most people these days seem to think of "spam" more as completely off-topic crap, phishing messages, advertisements for illegal products, etc., etc. I don't know many people, in a B2B context, who actually object to receiving cold email IF they fit the criteria above - short, professional and relevant.

So while I'd like to take your advice to heart, it just isn't likely to happen anytime soon. Not unless we start getting so many inbound leads coming in that we can't handle them all.

I don't know many people, in a B2B context, who actually object to receiving cold email IF they fit the criteria above

As a person in charge of both buying and selling B2B services/products, I couldn't agree more. I absolutely abhor and detest long cold emails from strangers who want me to give them money, but I don't mind receiving short, snappy emails from people who have something to offer me (and have done enough homework to think I might want it). The former are adding work to my pile (if I bothered to read their long stupid emails) while the latter are taking work off my pile (saves me time researching the space--99 times out of 100 I'll go with the guy who has already made an effort towards establishing rapport over the strangers with the nice website).

I really appreciate your posts, although they are not short.

It takes more than a moment to read, but as long as it provides relevant information, it should be ok.

The rest is really about a pattern or manner for people to communicate. Somehow in some pattern, things are easier to be accepted than other manners. It's very hard to tell.

They talked about the sender doing research and writing an e-mail specifically to them. Spam is bulk e-mail sent indiscriminately, not all unsolicited e-mail sent for business purposes.

That said, people's tolerances are all very different, so I think anyone who did send e-mail of this nature would have to work very hard to make it a truly personal, well researched e-mail without any trace of it being even semi-automated.. because I delete e-mails that miss the mark for sure.

> That's the definition of spam.

According to who?

Well, according to wikipedia for starters.

Don't worry about the downvotes. I don't care about what the others say. I agree with you.

I've been wondering about this myself. In a typical, successful B2B cold call, how does the conversation actually go?

The calls are straight forward and direct. If you have not qualified the prospect already, then you must do this in the first 15 seconds.

The basic steps are 1.) Identify yourself 2.) Very short intro to why you're calling 3.) Ask a qualifying question 4.) If prospect is not qualified, end call 5.) If qualified, then start a dialog to see if they have the problem you solve

Typically a cold call script is just a qualifying call, ask a few questions, see what problems they face and if they would benefit from the product. If they agree to a followup then it's great to schedule a followup email and call them again in after some period.

What we've found is that it's impractical to think that you'd close a sales call in one hit. A combination of phone calls and emails is important and providing customers with something of value before you push the sale is really effective. E.g. whitepapers, videos, blog posts, webinars etc.

I work for a company called GoodCall (http://www.goodcall.io) at the moment, which facilitates thousands of calls each week to businesses. We're building a tool to help businesses devise an effective call script and sales funnel and A/B test different scripts and sales processes. It also shows you your cost-per-acquisition, something that is really easy to measure with Google Adwords, but hard to do with inbound sales.

"Hi I'm from YOURCOMPANY and I saw you wrote/spoke on/commented about RELEVANTTOPICORTHEME and thought you may be interested in learning more about YOURCOMPANY. I'd love to set up a demo to show you how it can help you with PROBLEM. What day is better for you, Tuesday or Wednesday?"

I think this is way too direct. You atleast need to qualify if they really have the PROBLEM (even if you know they have the PROBLEM, it will atleast involve him in the conversation). Probably after that you can explain very briefly how you can solve the PROBLEM and give out few good names from the current clientele that have solved same/similar PROBLEM and then ask for a demo day. No?

My answer is:

  If your product/service can't be explained by e-mail,
  I'm not interested in acquiring it. Please remove my number.

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