Podcast

Episode: 514 |
Evan Polin:
Generating Referrals from Your Existing Network :
Episode
514

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

Evan Polin

Generating Referrals from Your Existing Network 

Show Notes

Evan Polin, founder and operator of Polin Performance Group, talks about how his firm helps professionals in the service industry build their businesses and grow their practice. He helps them get in front of their ideal clients, make sure they’re not giving away their expertise for free, and qualify opportunities more quickly. He also helps them take a strategic approach to problem solving and use their expertise to close more business with the kind of clients they’d like to work with.

Evan provides professional services firms with sales and business development advice. He starts with a diagnostic, using the Harver behavioral-based assessment tool. This gives him a 35-page report on the client’s strengths and weaknesses in sales and  business development. He asks about the client’s goals and what kind of practice they want to build, how much revenue they’d like to develop, and what their mix of clients should be. He then puts together a customized business development plan to help the client reach their goals.

Strategy to Leverage Your Contacts

Evan helps individuals and businesses reach their goals by breaking down the process scientifically. He typically starts with helping them understand how to get in front of the right opportunities. He also helps with issues such as people feeling like they are being used for free consulting, and those not getting as many referrals as they think they should be. He helps them leverage the relationships they have already developed, and figure out the most effective way to use them to get introduced to the right people and focus on the right opportunities. 

To get in front of opportunities, he advises clients to first sit down and think about what their ideal client looks like and whom they need to target within an organization, and what the engagement looks like. Furthermore, he suggests leveraging their relationships and current context to start by downloading their LinkedIn connections into a CSV file. This file can then be separated into three categories – A list, B list, and C list. A list contacts are those who are more likely to get back to the consultant within a week. The B list is composed of contacts who may take a bit longer to respond, while the C list includes those who may not respond at all.

Cold Outreach Tips and Using Sales Navigator

Evan talks about reaching out through telephone calls and emails. He explains how to be  successful with cold outreach, and suggests that it is better than making a cold call but cautions not to set expectations too high as the response rate would still be low. Common best practices include sending a message that introduces the person and their role, and mentioning any connections they might have in common. Evan explains how to use Sales Navigator to manage the outreach list of contacts.

Evan suggests sending messages to carefully selected prospects, and paying attention to who is looking at your profile. He also suggested filtering out those with less than 500 connections, as they are likely not active on the platform. Polin highlights the importance of understanding the psychology of sales and marketing, and how it can be used to target the right people. He also mentions that if someone views your profile, but does not respond, it is worth reaching out again in a week or so. 

Evan suggests ending the message with an open question in order to get a response rate. Evan added that he often sends a short version of his elevator speech, which outlines the biggest challenges he helps people with and then inquires which of those things the other person is running into. This is done to see if the contact is responsive and to see if they are a good potential prospect.

Reaching Out to Past Contacts

Evan talks about how he reaches out to people he served in the past in order to get referrals. He suggests to start by reconnecting with them, asking how they have been and what has changed. He also suggests sharing what he is currently working on, and to ask them if they know anyone who could be a good introduction for him. Evan also suggests that if someone has referred him in the past to remind them of how they first started working together. When it comes to following up, Evan suggested to follow up two to four weeks later and to keep a spreadsheet with the date of outreach and the result of the outreach. He has found that, recently, a call is regarded as more personal and people are more likely to respond. He also talks about reaching out through email and effective subject lines.

How to Leverage Relationships for Referrals

Evan explains that most people don’t ask for referrals. If it’s a current client, he suggests asking how satisfied they are with the service provided. He finds that if he shares information about his business, it allows him to present a broader range of services and plant the seed for future referrals. He also suggests the kinds of clients that would be a good fit. He also puts a timestamp on the conversation to see how interested they are in offering the referral. He also offers tips on how to reach out to contacts on LinkedIn who don’t really know you. A 20% response rate is considered a good result and he stresses adding a bit of nuance to the message to show that it is coming from a real person and not a bot, offers a handy tip on using your profile to determine interest in your outreach, and how to reach out to and follow up with potential clients with whom you have no connections and/or do not return your messages, and when to put them on the back burner.

 

Timestamps

05:27 Top Challenges Faced by Professional Service Firms

08:07 Exploring Strategies for Gaining Access to More Opportunities

10:32 Exploring Strategies for Reaching Out to Ideal Targets

14:22 Business Development Consulting Practice

15:29 Networking and Introductions

32:58 Crafting an Effective Cold Outreach Message 

35:03 Exploring Sales Coaching and Psychology Strategies on LinkedIn

36:12 Cold Outreach Strategies for Consulting Firms 

37:55 Reaching Out to Past Clients and Following Up 

44:30 Cold Outreach Strategies for Business Development

46:15 Follow-Up Strategies for Outreach Success 

 

Links:

Polin Performance Group www.polinpg.com

Selling Professional Services the Sandler Way: Or, “Nobody Ever Told Me I’d Have to Sell!”

 

CONTACT INFO:

evan@polinpg.com

215-970-2360 (office)

 

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

 

  1. Evan Polin

SPEAKERS

Will Bachman, Evan Polin

 

Will Bachman  00:02

Hello, and welcome to Unleashed. I’m your host will Bachman. And I will point out that if you go to umbrex.com/unleashed, you can find the transcript for this episode and all previous episodes. You can also sign up for an email where we’ll let you know about the latest episode. Our guest today is Evan Poland, who runs Poland performance group. And I’ll let him tell us about his firm. Evan, welcome to the show.

 

Evan Polin  00:29

Well, thank you very much, I really appreciate you having me on the show.

 

Will Bachman  00:34

Give us a quick snapshot of poll and performance group.

 

Evan Polin  00:39

So the thumbnails, this thumbnail of polling performance group is I help folks, primarily folks who are in professional services, build their business and grow their practice. So I’ll help folks with how do they get in front of their ideal prospect in their ideal client? How do they make sure they’re not getting used for their expertise and getting used for free consulting? And how do they effectively qualify opportunities, close business more quickly, and really take that strategic advisor problem solving approach, and helping them utilize their expertise to close more business and more of the kinds of clients they’d like to be working with?

 

Will Bachman  01:21

Fantastic. So my understanding is the bulk of your firm’s work is with professional services firms, which could be law firms, accounting firms, consulting firms, other types of professional services. Let’s talk a little bit about you know, let’s say you’re getting started with a client, what mostly focusing on sales, business development, how they can grow their practice, what is you have like a starting point or a diagnostic you start with? What are some questions you ask? And maybe then we can get into the different, you know, types of areas that you’d help them on more in a more detailed way?

 

Evan Polin  02:01

Absolutely. And it’s funny that you mentioned diagnostics, the first thing that I do is a diagnostic, I call it a professional X ray that I utilize, I utilize, I utilize a behavioral based assessment tool, and give folks an online assessment that takes them about 30 minutes to complete. And it gives me a 35 page report on their strengths and weaknesses specific to sales and business development. So it’s not a personality profile. It’s not a communication profile. But it’s looking at their behavioral strengths and weaknesses, specifically for business development.

 

Will Bachman  02:40

Oh, that’s I think that’s, is that one that you developed? Or is that a, like a thing out there in the market?

 

Evan Polin  02:46

Tell me tell me, it’s a tool that’s out there in the marketplace, it’s been around for about 15 or 20 years, they assess 1000s of people a year. It’s called Harvard is the name of the tool. And it’s a behavioral assessment. So how do you spell it? It’s H, ar, ve, R,

 

Will Bachman  03:06

V, E, R, H, AR ve R, okay, are

 

Evan Polin  03:10

correct. And it’s a behavioral assessment. And they cut the data in a number of different ways right now, I believe they’ve got assessments for about 90 different roles within an organization, everything from sales and business development, to leadership to things very specific, like, what do I want to see in a bank teller. So let me know that they’re going to be successful in what they do. And I really liked the tool, because in areas where folks need some development, it will actually give suggestions of what they can do to get better. And it will give links to TED Talks and suggestions of books that folks can get on Amazon, so that they can further develop those areas that need development. So I find even people within the same organization have different strengths and weaknesses. So if I treat everyone the same exact way, not everybody is going to get the best results. So I give them that assessment, as well as an assessment that I’ve created, that just has folks self identify where they believe their biggest sales challenges are. And I will start with that information to see where someone’s strengths and weaknesses are, where they need help. And then from there, I’ll ask them a little bit about their goals, the kinds of practice they’re looking to build, how much revenue they’d like to develop what they’d like their mix of claims to be. And where I’d like to start is putting together a business development plan to help folks to hit their goals. I find when folks come to me oftentimes, they have a number in mind in terms of how much business they’d like to do, but they have absolutely no idea how many signed engagements that is how many proposed rules need to go out how many prospects they need to be in front of. So I really like to sit down and break it down scientifically, to help them identify exactly how many folks they need to be talking to, to be able to achieve their goal, and then build the plan based on that. Incorporating what I’ve learned, based on the results of the assessment, so that I can customize the plan for each individual that I’m working with.

 

Will Bachman  05:27

All right, fantastic. Few things, a few questions coming out of that. So you mentioned about that you help them figure out do a self assessment and figure out what they want to work on. What are the top, roughly sort of five to 10 areas where people come to you and say, Evan, you know, here’s really my number one thing. So what, whether that’s, you know, conversion rate or, you know, getting new leads, like, what are the top 10? Things? top eight things?

 

Evan Polin  05:59

Great question. I’d say 90% of the time, the number one issue is how do I get in front of the opportunities? A lot of folks that I work with whether it’s true or not, they think they’re really good closers, even if there isn’t evidence to point to that, but everybody’s looking for how do I get in front of the right kinds of opportunities. So it almost always starts with prospecting. And then almost always starts with, Okay, how are we going to get conversations with the right people. So that you can even get to the point of identifying whether or not you’re in front of someone who you can help within our consulting firms, professional service firms. Another big challenge, I find is people feeling like they’re getting used for their free consulting, getting used for their expertise, that they’ll meet with somebody 234 times, someone will pick their brain, but never actually sign the engagement letter. And then folks who have been in practice for a while, believe that they’ve got a really good reputation. But for whatever reason, just aren’t generating as many referrals and introductions as they think they should be getting. And they’re not quite sure why they’re not getting those introductions. So a lot of times, it’s a matter of helping folks leverage the relationships they’ve already developed, leveraging the good work they’ve already done for other clients, and figuring out the most effective way to use those relationships, to get introduced to new people that they might be able to

 

Will Bachman  07:37

help. All right. Okay, so this is some great stuff that I’m interested to dive into. And that’s, it’s consistent with my experience as well talking to a lot of independent consultants that, you know, getting in front of opportunities. So let’s, let’s double click on that one a bit. Someone says, Evan, okay, my number one thing is, I want to get in front of more opportunities. What do you what do you, what do you do with that person? How do you help them?

 

Evan Polin  08:07

So there’s two things I do with them. First, I have them sit down and really think about what is the ideal client look like? So what industries who are they looking to target, what size companies who within the organization do they need to be in front of, and what does a good engagement look like? Because if you don’t have a really good plan, and you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re not going to figure it out when you stumble upon it. So once they’ve identified who it is they want to be in front of, especially with folks who have experiences and have been in the professional world for a while, I always have them start with leveraging their relationships and leveraging their current context. So within the first session or two, when I’m working with someone, I have them go in and download all of their connections they have in LinkedIn, it’s really difficult on LinkedIn to scroll through because it seems like they’re scrolling through forever, you can download that into a CSV file. And what I do is I have folks go through and break their connections into three categories. Very complicated. I call it an a list, a B list and a C list. Your a list of contacts are folks who would get back to you within a week. And would either be your ideal targets are based on what they do and who they know, would be able to refer you to your ideal targets, your B list of people or people who would get back to you, but it might take a week or two. Or they may not be in as obvious position to know the right people that you want to get introduced to. And you’re seeing list as everybody else. And the first thing that I have people do is work the list of relationships that they already have to reach out to folks share With people what they’re up to share with people who they’re looking to help, primarily to ask for referrals and introductions. And I find that so often people work hard rather than work smart. And they go out and just start working cold, sending out emails, reaching out to lakhs of people they don’t know, through LinkedIn, rather than first working through their relationships. And seeing how they may be able to get introduced to some of the right people to get them started.

 

Will Bachman  10:32

Okay, so, by the way, on that thing, yeah, listener, if you have not downloaded recently, your LinkedIn contacts, good thing to do, you basically I think you go into click on your picture on LinkedIn, I think it’s under Privacy and Settings, under your settings under Privacy, and then you go to like data privacy, which is not intuitive. And then on data privacy, you can download just your contacts, you can also download your messages. And it’s probably a good thing to do, even if you don’t need it right now, just in case who knows, LinkedIn blows up or your account gets compromised, or whatever, just have it. They used to give you the name, the current title, their employer and LinkedIn URL. And they stopped doing that. So now you don’t get the LinkedIn URL, it makes it super, super annoying. But go ahead and do that and say that. So let’s talk about how to actually work that list. Because it’s a bit of a awkward thing maybe to speak, you know, as someone, you don’t want to just like, call people up and say, Hey, do you have any referrals? So let’s get into that a little bit more detail. So even in the a’s and the b’s, there’s some variation between some people are close friends, some people are people who would recognize you that get back to you. But you know, maybe they’re not aware of what you do. You don’t want to appear spammy and stuff and just call someone I’m like, Hey, do you know any projects? How do you recommend reaching out to those people? Like what actually would you say in that email, when you reach out to someone who you haven’t talked to in a year or more?

 

Evan Polin  12:06

Sure. And I recently restarted my practice almost exactly a year ago. So this is an exercise that I went through myself. And I practice what I preach, and I did exactly that. So I start by reaching out to my A’s. I do it one to one, I don’t want to appear spammy. So if I have a phone number, I’ll make a phone call. If I had their direct email address, I will send an email to their work email. If I’ve got that information, I will try to do it in a way where they’re going to be more likely to reach out.

 

Will Bachman  12:37

Okay, so, so you might call someone up. So you call someone up? Listen, you call me up? What would I pick up? Hello, what would you say to me?

 

Evan Polin  12:47

Hey, well, this is Evan. It’s been a long time since we’ve talked. And I’d love to catch up. Can we schedule a time? I’ve been doing a couple new things here. And I’d like to see what you’re up to. Can we schedule a time to talk and just catch up?

 

Will Bachman  13:03

Okay. So I’ll say, Sure. Actually, I have six minutes until my next meeting, what, tell me what’s going on right now? What’s up?

 

Evan Polin  13:13

Sure. I just wanted to share it. And I’m reaching out to my network. I just started a new practice. I don’t know how often you’re on LinkedIn, or if you saw the update. But I’ve recently started a practice that decided to kind of utilize all of my expertise. And I’ve started a consulting practice, really helping professionals with business development and working with folks who are looking to grow their practice. And I was wondering if now in the next couple of minutes, we can find the time I could pick your brain share with you what I’m doing. And the kinds of firms I’m hoping to help to see if there’s anyone who you know, that may be open to just an introductory conversation with me, I promise, it won’t be a hard shell. But just someone who you think as you learn more about what I do, that might benefit from having a conversation with me. And I’d also kind of, you know, it’s been six months a year since we’ve last talked, I’d love to learn more about what you’ve been up to, to see now that I’m out there networking a little bit more, to see what I can look for, for you, and to see if there’s any way that I may be able to help you.

 

Will Bachman  14:22

Oh, fantastic. Okay. Yeah. I’d be happy to see if there’s some intros, I can make that be helpful, too. I’d love to help out. Tell me a little bit about what you got going on, what’s your focus area,

 

Evan Polin  14:34

and then I’ll start to go into my focus area. Talk about the kinds of problems that I help folks with the kinds of firms I’m looking to meet. And then if I’m feeling comfortable, and I know you pretty well, you’re one of my contacts, I’ll say, you know, we’ll if we could, you know, reconnect in a week or so I was wondering if if it’d be okay for me to do something. And if you’re uncomfortable for any reason, just let me know. Um, would you be comfortable? I? I’m not sure I know most of us our LinkedIn connections are, you know, open to the public? Would you mind if I went through some of your LinkedIn connections, and kind of put together a list and maybe caught back up with you in a week or two, to go through some of the folks that I think, you know, might be good people for me to meet? And you can let me know how well you know them. And if you think any of those folks might be open to an introduction.

 

Will Bachman  15:29

Wow, okay. That would take you a long time to go get actions so well.

 

Evan Polin  15:34

So So one of the things that I’ll teach my clients how to do is use Sales Navigator, yeah. So that they can put filters in and I can go through, if somebody’s got 1500 2000 contacts, I could probably filter that down to 50 to 100, within 10, to 15 minutes. And then I just go through and take down the information of the people who on the surface, I think might be good connections, and then schedule a follow up call. The other thing I’ll do because I want to provide value to my network, is I will offer to the person I’m talking to that they’d like to do the same thing. And if they’d like to go through my LinkedIn connections, that I’d be happy to make any introductions that I can for them.

 

Will Bachman  16:20

Interesting. Now, I want to ask you about it. I did not I actually have Sales Navigator. I was not aware you could do this. Are you able in Sales Navigator to say, I want to look at connect, I want to just filter on I know, you could filter on secondary connections. But can you actually filter on say, just show me the connections of Evan of my context seven. And you can just can do that?

 

Evan Polin  16:45

Yep. So you can put second degree connections, second degree connections of Evan, and then from there I can. And then from there, I can say, okay, when I really want to look at people in the greater Philadelphia area in the greater New York metro area in the greater Boston area, five days away, I’m not looking to work with mega companies. So let me look at companies that have one to 11 employees 11 To 5050 to 100. By the way, I know that it doesn’t really do me a whole lot of value to talk to people with junior titles. So let me pull up CXO, owner partner. And now all of a sudden, I’ve really filtered down the list to the types of people that I’d like to be introduced to,

 

Will Bachman  17:26

Oh, I did not know this, you can actually say, I want to look at connections of a specific person that you’re connected with. And just see their connection. That’s pretty cool. And then filter those out. Yeah, I’m familiar with all the filters and Sales Navigator. I did not know that. That’s part of and then you can go to the person like, Hey, I see you connected with, you know, Person ID and see, you know, Would you be open to making an intro?

 

Evan Polin  17:49

Right? And oftentimes, they’ll say yes, other times, they’ll say, No, you don’t want to talk to that person. But you know, what, if you’re looking to meet someone like that, I didn’t know these two other people, I don’t know that I’m connected to them on LinkedIn. But with these people be good. Yeah. And it really opens up the conversation. The other thing I want to do is I want to provide value for people in my network. So I always offer for them to look through my connections. To be honest, less than 10% of the time, will somebody take me up on it? Yeah. And when I build out my list, when I have my clients build out their list, I know that people different people use LinkedIn differently. And for a lot of folks, if they know 25% of the people they’re connected to on LinkedIn, that’s a lot. So I suggest to my clients that they build a large list of people that they’d like to be connected to. And when they have the conversation with their A or B contact, that they share with them up front that they know that they probably only know 20 to 25% of the people on LinkedIn well enough to make a connection. If I make a list of 15 or 20 people, if there’s two or three that you think would make sense for me to make an introduction to that would be fantastic.

 

Will Bachman  19:05

That’s interesting. Okay. Now, I want to ask you because you have a slightly different approach on this than David A fields who’s a good friend and has been on the show a bunch of times, who, in terms of how you you kind of just just jumped right into it. I only gave you six minutes. So your time pressed, but you kind of just jump right into it. Like, Hey, I’ve started up this new firm. You know, we’d love to pick your brain if you know some people can make an intro like very just a direct, you know, direct kind of request on that. Tell me about your perspective about being more circumspect about being more focused on the other person, like, Hey, I just wanted to hear what’s new in your universe. What’s going on with you? And we haven’t chatted a couple years, and being much more focused into the person as opposed to just like being direct, like, Hey, I started this new firm looking for some clients. You know, anybody who would be open to just, you know, having a chat Hey, what’s what’s your show?

 

Evan Polin  20:00

So if I have a long if I’m given more time, yeah, I will try to focus on the other person first. Okay? I find, though, that people who call and it’s just a hey, friendly, Hey, I just wanted to check in. If they don’t get to the point, they ended up having a lot of conversations that don’t go anywhere I see. And I also don’t want to be seen as the guy who’s calling and just doing a hard sell and directly soliciting for business. Yeah, so I’m never on that call asking the person for their business. Quite frankly, what I found in my own practice is when I did this, about of about a third of the folks I reached out to raise their hand and said, Geez, you haven’t asked me about my business yet. But, you know, could we work together again? Could you help me? Does it make sense for us to have a conversation?

 

Will Bachman  20:50

Okay. So and how do people respond, you know, when you call them up out of the blue? Are, you kind of position is like, Hey, just wanted to check to see, I’d love to catch up. And you were really kind of pushing more for let’s schedule something. What kind of reaction do you get from that? But from just keep calling people cold? We’re not not emailing first just calling him cold? What kind of what kind of reaction you get?

 

Evan Polin  21:17

Typically, I will get an email back. I’m not catching too many people

 

Will Bachman  21:22

live. Yeah, so leaving voicemails.

 

Evan Polin  21:24

So I’m leaving them a voicemail basically saying essentially the same thing? Hey, I’d love to catch up. It’s been a while since we talk, I’ll send you an email with a couple of days and times, let me know if you’re open to having a conversation over the next couple of weeks and what works best for you.

 

Will Bachman  21:39

All right. Interesting. Okay.

 

Evan Polin  21:43

But but for me, I find that so many people these days, hide behind email high behind LinkedIn messages, that when you’re actually getting a phone call from someone, it’s a little bit more welcoming. And even though I’m getting voicemails 75 to 80% of the time, yeah, they’re listening to that voicemail, they’re seeing that email, and they’re going to be more likely to respond. Okay. And again, being realistic, I would say that I get a response from about 40% of the people that I reach out to, and I’ve been doing business development for a long time. So I think I had 150 people between the A’s and B’s for myself. About 40% of those people got back to me. And about half of the people I had conversations with were in position and made introductions for me.

 

Will Bachman  22:35

Now, let’s say that you, you for someone that you don’t call. Would you just email some folks like let’s say, maybe you don’t have their number, you know, the current number, you have their email, you email them, what would you say when you email someone that day you haven’t been in touch with for, let’s say, over a year?

 

Evan Polin  22:55

My email would be, hey, well, it’s Evan. Hope you remember me making some kind of little joke. It’s been a really long time since we’ve talked. I’d love to reconnect. Are you open to jumping on a quick quick call sometime over the next couple of weeks? And I’ll do that either in an email. And again, quite frankly, for some of the people that I haven’t talked to in a while or may have switched companies. I don’t even have their email address. So at that point, I will send them a direct message through LinkedIn.

 

Will Bachman  23:23

Yeah. Okay. All right. And let’s let’s and what subject line do you use? I know I’m getting super specific, but useful stuff. What subject lines? Have you found work? Well, for that email outreach,

 

Evan Polin  23:42

subject lines that I’ve used? Yeah. Checking in. Now, catch up with a question mark.

 

Will Bachman  23:52

All right. Let’s talk a little bit more about this piece around, which is somewhat related. But you gave the example of someone who has been consulting for a while or been a professional for a while. And the question is, they say, Evan, how do I leverage my relationships to get more referrals? Right, like I do good work, people like to work. But I don’t get a lot of people referring me. So how can I go about doing that better?

 

Evan Polin  24:19

So for most people, and it’s going to sound incredibly obvious, and a no brainer. Most people don’t ask. They sit back and expect that if they just do good work, and that a client sees that they do good work, that somebody’s going to come and just offer to give them a referral, new introduction. The problem with that mindset is that all of our clients are just as busy as we are. And they’re not spending all of their time thinking about how they can help us in our business. And sometimes they make the assumption that we’re really busy we may not be taking on new clients And I find it kind of goes in a bell shaped curve, I find that about 20% of folks out there will give you a referral no matter what without you asking, and probably everybody listening to this podcast has gotten a referral without asking. There’s about 20% of the population who’s never going to give you a referral, and it’s got nothing to do with you. They’ve got their own head trash around, well, what if I make the introduction and it doesn’t work, I don’t want to be too pushy. And nothing you say or do is going to help you to get an introduction there. It’s that middle 60% that we have to go out and proactively ask. So a couple of highlights a couple of things that I do, if it’s a current client, or someone that I’ve recently worked with, the first thing I’m doing is asking them how satisfied they are with their services are currently getting. Because if they’re not completely satisfied, I need to stop the referral conversation. And figure out what they’re unhappy with and how I can make it work and how I can make it up to them. And if somebody’s unhappy, for whatever reason, I’d rather find that out while they’re still a client. And I can still do something about it. Then wondering why when somebody went away, if they are happy that they say everything’s great, they’re seeing a lot of value in what I’m doing. I’m asking them if it’s okay to ask a question. And I’m letting them know that if they’re uncomfortable, for whatever reason, just to let me know, and we can drop for conversation. Usually, they’re assuming that they’re about to be in for a price increase conversation. And they’ll be really relieved when they find out that that’s not why I wanted to what I wanted to talk about.

 

Will Bachman  26:39

Okay, I like that. All right.

 

Evan Polin  26:42

And then I’ll share with them that the way that I primarily build my business is that if my clients are happy with me, and people are happy with me, oftentimes will introduce me to other people who may be in a similar situation, who maybe don’t need my help right now. But someone who it might be good for that for me to know. And then I’ll ask them, if they’d be open to making an introduction. If there was somebody in their universe that they knew that they thought could potentially benefit from having a conversation with me. And then the next piece, because they’re not thinking about Poland performance group all day long, they’re not, they may not even realize what a good referral is. Or for a lot of people listening to the podcast, they may be consulting in a number of different areas. And our clients only know us for what we’re doing for them. And they may not realize some of the other services that we provide for other clients that we’re not providing for them, I will then pick their brain and give them some ideas of the kinds of people that might be a good introduction for me. And I find that if I tap into their memory banks, if I ask them about professional associations that they belong to other companies they’ve worked with companies they’ve worked at, that if I kind of take them through a little bit of a brainstorming exercise, they will typically come up with one or two people who they think might be a good introduction. So the other thing I want to do, especially because I’m working with a lot of professional service, folks, I don’t want to come across as really salesy. I don’t want to come across as that young low end insurance salesperson who says can you write down the names and phone numbers of five of your best friends for me, I don’t want to come across that way. So if somebody comes up with one or two names, I’ll ask them if they wouldn’t mind reaching out to the contact on my behalf, sharing with them how they know me, to see if the person would be open to taking my call or open to taking an email from me. And basically, letting my client know that I don’t want to make them look bad. I don’t want their contacts wondering why their information is being given out. So ask if they’ll reach out proactively for me to see if the person would be open to taking my call or taking an email. And if the person agrees, the last piece is really key, because I don’t want it to fall through the cracks. I’ll say we’ll I really appreciate your help, you know, really grateful. When do you think you’ll have a chance to reach out to that person, and when would be a good time for me to just, you know, touch base with you to see what they said and to see whether or not they were even interested in taking my call. So I’m going to have my client or I’m going to have my contact, set the timeframe. That way, they don’t feel like I’m pushing it on them. They don’t think I’m forcing them. But if you tell me that you should be able to reach out by the end of the week, and that you know, for me to reach out to you by Monday or Tuesday. And you know that I’m going to follow back up with you Monday or Tuesday. There’s a much better chance that you’re going to make that outreach on my behalf than if we leave completely open ended.

 

Will Bachman  30:03

All right, this stuff is gold. I’m gonna have to listen to this episode again, even though I’ve been here once already. This is stuff that is definitely super valuable in terms of the practical step by step nature of it. Okay, so you’ll ask first if the person has been satisfied with the service, right? That’s good. Because if they’re not, okay, well don’t tell anybody about me. I’m super busy. Don’t tell anybody about our service.

 

Evan Polin  30:35

And by the way, if you’re under a retainer, okay, well, what what can you do to fix that?

 

Will Bachman  30:41

Right course fix it. But if they’re happy, then is it okay, do you mind if I ask you a question? And just tell me if you know, it’s not something you want to get into? Well, okay, no, no, you can’t ask me a question. So that Yes. Hey, I grow my business through referrals, word of mouth, and was wondering if I could, you know, talk to you about, you know, thinking through any people that you might know that might be interested, have a conversation with me about what we do? And like, Yeah, I’d love to help you out. Sure. Okay, um, let’s talk about a slightly separate group of people. What about this? And you mentioned earlier, people who might only know 25% of their own LinkedIn contacts? So what about the 75% of your own LinkedIn contacts? were somehow you connected with them? Maybe you never even met them or have a conversation, but somehow you connected with them? They sent you a connection request, you sent them one who knows? And let’s say you go through those 75% and find some that could be potentially good clients, right? What’s your tips on how to engage someone who you’re connected with on LinkedIn, but doesn’t really know you? There’s a question.

 

Evan Polin  31:53

Absolutely. And actually, years ago, before things were more automated, I ran a little bit of a LinkedIn concierge business, where we had people manually doing this for folks where they would connect with them, and then tried to reach out with people that they knew we connected with, but quite frankly, didn’t know very well. So I will reach out to somebody, you know, over LinkedIn that I’m connected to, but maybe haven’t talked to before. Maybe not even sure how they got into my network. And I’ll basically send a message saying, hey, will, you know, we’re connected on LinkedIn. But I don’t think we’ve ever had a conversation. I’d love to set up a time for us to talk. So I can learn more about you. And you can learn more about me. So we can see whether or not there’s any way that we can help each other.

 

Will Bachman  32:43

Okay. And what kind of response do you get from that outreach?

 

Evan Polin  32:50

I would say somewhere between one out of five and one out of seven people who respond to that outreach,

 

Will Bachman  32:56

that’s pretty good.

 

Evan Polin  32:58

Yeah, that’s far, far better than making a pure cold call, or a pure cold outreach. But I also don’t want to set someone’s expectations that half the people that they send a message like that to we’re going to get back to them. Because that’s not realistic.

 

Will Bachman  33:12

No, I mean, 20% would be an amazing response rate for that. I mean, so it’s just, hey, we’ve been connected since 2018. But I don’t think we’ve ever actually spoken. We’d love to hear about what you do. And wondering if you’d be open to a short conversation. So we can, you know, actually get introduced and see if there’s way we can help each other. Right.

 

Evan Polin  33:37

But that’s exactly and I tried to keep it short and sweet. But I, these days, I don’t know about you, but I am getting more and more messages from bots. So I want to add a little bit of nuance to it so they can see it’s coming from a real life person. And it’s not about just auto auto dread or ending 20 words of gibberish put together in a email message.

 

Will Bachman  34:01

Yeah. And how would you customize it, then? Maybe you’d say, Hey, I’d love to hear about your role at fill in the blank.

 

Evan Polin  34:08

I’d love to hear about your role at work. Jeez, it looks like we’ve got a couple of common connections like, you know, Bill and Mary. And I’ll I’ll either mentioned where they worked, where they went to school, who they’re connected to, maybe LinkedIn groups that we have in common.

 

Will Bachman  34:25

Okay. And then it’s gonna be a self selected group of the 20%, which would be amazing that respond, because they’re probably going to click on your profile and say, Who is this? Oh, okay. Yeah, we could actually, you know, that looks pretty legit or that Yeah, we could actually maybe maybe they have in the back of their mind that they can maybe use some sales coaching or their psychology that looks interesting. Like to find out what the person knows is not going to be people who are totally uninterested in what you do. So it’s, it’s a nice filtering mechanism, right because have people that respond to the most likely to be interested in what you do?

 

Evan Polin  35:03

Correct. And then the other thing that I will pay attention to after I’m sending out some of those messages is who’s looking at my profile? So that I can see whether or not someone I mentioned? Did they go and jump on my profile? Oh, and if they did, but didn’t respond, then maybe I’ll reach back out again in another week or so. versus somebody who not only didn’t respond, but also never went and viewed my profile.

 

Will Bachman  35:28

Interesting. Okay. So use that tool that viewed my profile thing, correct? Yeah. I mean, that suggests someone who’s somewhat interested in you, for some reason, maybe they looked at it and said, not a fit for me.

 

Evan Polin  35:41

Exactly. It certainly has been that in the past, absolutely.

 

Will Bachman  35:45

But at least it tells you that they’re active enough on LinkedIn that they, you know, took some action,

 

Evan Polin  35:50

right? Because depending on your audience, some of the folks listening to this podcast, may be reaching out to people who may not get on LinkedIn more than once a month. So you need to keep that in consideration as well.

 

Will Bachman  36:01

Yeah, I mean, if someone has less than 500 connections, usually just skip that person mean, correct. Because maybe they’re, you know, checking out LinkedIn, but the chances are, they probably aren’t.

 

Evan Polin  36:12

Most likely after last update was four years ago. Yeah. Yeah.

 

Will Bachman  36:16

Interesting. Okay. So you would? And so that’s one approach to someone who’s just like, hey, I’d love to see how we could, you know, potentially help each other some way? Would you? You wouldn’t, and you close it with just like, Hey, would you be open to short discussion? I’ve kind of found that leaving it with ending with an open question is probably the best for getting a response rate, as opposed to then saying, and if you are open to a short discussion, here’s my Conley, whatever, let me know, sometimes it worked for you just get, it’s better just like leave it with a hanging question, because then people feel the need to kind of complete the circle. Right,

 

Evan Polin  36:54

correct. They The other thing that I have done, if it’s somebody that’s really, really cold, yeah, but could potentially be a good potential client. Yeah. Is I will do a very short version of my elevator speech. Basically saying, Hey, I’m reaching out, because I helped a lot of folks from consulting firms, you know, biggest challenges I help people with, and then maybe two bullet points. Now, which of these things are you running into? When does it make sense for us to connect? Or have a conversation? Yeah, interesting. So again, if I, if I’ve got no real connection, there’s not a lot of commonality at all. But it could be a good potential prospect for me. What do I have to lose? By giving them a sense of the kinds of problems that I help companies or firms like theirs with to see if they’re responsive?

 

Will Bachman  37:55

Okay. Love it. Okay, great. So, talked about reaching out to people that you currently know now, when you asked about the when we were dialing back a couple minutes, I asked you about, you know, how do you get references or referrals from people that you’re working with? You mentioned, you kind of lead with? Are you satisfied with the service, which sort of suggests is someone that you’re working with now? What about going back to people that you served, you know, 123 years ago? So there’s no active engagement? How do you think about going back to those folks? To say, hey, remember me? You know, can you refer me somewhere? How about how do you do that?

 

Evan Polin  38:45

It’s similar, the the conversation is just a little bit more nuanced, is I’m reaching back out, reconnecting with them, if at all possible, focusing on them first? Geez, well, it’s been two or three years, since we’ve worked together, how have things been with your business? How have things evolved, what’s going on, and I will try to get them to talk about themselves first. I will then share with them, some of the things that you know, some of the kinds of clients I’m working with now. Remind them of some of the services or share with them some things that I do that they may not be aware of. And then ask them, you know, share with them, I’ve got room in my practice, or I’m looking to bring on two or three new clients. And asking them, you know, if we could talk a little bit to see if they know of anybody who, you know, may be a good introduction for me. Okay. And again, I am also and I tried to do this all the time. I’m also sharing with them that I’d like to get a good sense of who they’re working with and what they’re looking for, so that if I can help them, I’m happy to make an introduction to them as well. Okay.

 

Will Bachman  39:58

All right. To show

 

Evan Polin  40:01

that there is one other thing that I just don’t want to forget and lose the track. If I’m talking to somebody, and it’s a client who has who got referred to me in the first place. So will you and I work together because Mary introduced us. When I start the conversation, I’ll say, cheese will get Do you remember how we first met? And that’s it. There’s that? Oh, yeah, well, what wasn’t it? Mary, that put us together? I’ll say, Yeah, that’s right. And, you know, I think if you remember, when we first started working together, I shared with you that the primary way that I build my practice, is from introductions from people who have been working with me, and then use that to lead into the referral conversation. So if, if it’s somebody that I had been referred to and worked with, I will remind them of how we started working together, before asking them for a referral.

 

Will Bachman  41:01

That’s very good, because complete the circle now. Okay, exactly. Yes. I like that. That’s a nice tip. Okay. What would you say is the right way to follow up? If someone does not return your phone call? Or if you, you know, what’s your periodicity of how often you follow up with folks? Or maybe you have a conversation? How often would you follow up with folks? And how do you do that.

 

Evan Polin  41:34

So if they never connected with me, I may follow up two to four weeks later. And reach out one more time. And quite frankly, what I do, what I have my clients do, is keeping a spreadsheet. So when they download their LinkedIn connections, I’ll have them add a column for date that they reached out, and then add another column for what the result of that outreach was. So that they can constantly go back to that list, see, when they last reached out to someone to see who they’ve connected with, because otherwise none of us are going to remember if we’re not tracking it somewhere.

 

Will Bachman  42:12

Yeah. Yeah.

 

Evan Polin  42:14

If it’s somebody that I’m connected to, and I’ve got a good relationship with, I’m probably having the referral conversation about twice a year.

 

Will Bachman  42:23

Okay, that’s, wow, that’s a lot. Okay. So we talked about reaching out, what are some of the other areas that we haven’t explored that are? Oh, you know what? I’m sorry, I wanted to ask you about cold outreach. So you said people have you no, lean towards that. And you can try to steer them into mining their existing set of relationships? What are your thoughts on cold outreach? Does it ever work? I know what sort of circumstances and if so how to do it.

 

Evan Polin  42:56

So cold outreach does work, the hit ratio is just very low, yeah, maybe somewhere between one and 3%. And what I suggest to my clients is, you need to have a combination of a warm outreach in the cold outreach, because your circle of contacts are only going to get you so far. And there’s probably a good segment of folks that you’d like to work with, that you’re just never going to be able to get an introduction to. So for those folks, I will make cold calls, I will send out cold emails. And those outreaches are pretty straightforward. Now, this is who I am. This is how I help the companies, the firms that I work with, these are the three or four biggest challenges that I helped them overcome. And by the way, if I worked with companies in their industry, that they may recognize, if I’ve got my clients permission, I may name drop the name of two or three companies to try to give me some credibility. And then basically, at the bottom of an email, say, Geez, you know, which of these challenges are you running into? Or what are the biggest issues that you’re running into when it comes to business development? And are you open to scheduling a 15 minute call to see if I can help you, in the same way that I’ve helped my other clients? Again, you know, if you’re getting a 3% response rate, you’re doing pretty well.

 

Will Bachman  44:30

That’d be amazing. 3%. Right. So,

 

Evan Polin  44:33

so for me, when I do the cold Outreach, I’m doing it to clients that would potentially be larger clients. So that if I close one, it’s worth all of the time and effort of all of those other knows, because it was a really nice sized engagement.

 

Will Bachman  44:54

And you’re reaching out with an email or are you just cold calling people

 

Evan Polin  44:59

so tip Typically, I will have two or three touches, I will typically call someone first, almost 100% of the time, I will get their voicemail in their voicemail, I’ll leave a 10 to 15 second voicemail sharing with them why I followed up and letting them know that I’m going to be following up with an email. And in the email, again a little bit further laying out the kinds of problems that I help folks with, I like to do bullet points in my emails, because I find that people who don’t know you don’t want to read three long paragraphs about you, they’re never gonna get through it. And then at the bottom of the email, I’m either suggesting times to talk, I use that I use Calendly, for my scheduling. So I’ll put a link to my calendar in the bottom. And then if I haven’t heard back in three or four days, my next step is typically to send them a LinkedIn invitation to see if I can get them to connect with me on LinkedIn connect with me on another medium. If I don’t hear back from that, in another week or so, I’ll do another phone call and email follow up.

 

Will Bachman  46:15

Okay. So you’re scheduling out these multiple steps, right? Correct. Such people multiple times.

 

Evan Polin  46:24

Correct. And if folks are using your HubSpot, or your Pardot, through Salesforce, you they can automate the process, although it is difficult. All you can do is automate a reminder for yourself if you’re doing the LinkedIn outreach. And if you’re a smaller consultant not using those platforms, then you just set reminders for yourself in your calendar.

 

Will Bachman  46:48

What do you find? is when someone responds, so is it often the case that you’re getting like most of the responses after the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh outreach?

 

Evan Polin  47:05

I take a little bit of a different approach. I don’t subscribe to the get somebody to say no, seven times before they say yes, yeah. If they don’t respond after that second or third, our outreach on probably putting them on a list of follow back up in a quarter. But I find and again, you know, for anybody listening to the podcast, think about yourself, if somebody’s calling you 5678 times? Are you inclined to want to work with them? Because they’re being so persistent? Or are they completely turning you off and annoying you because they’re following up over and over and over again, and not getting hit. So I would prefer to reach out, you know, two to four times between email, phone call LinkedIn. And if they don’t get back to me, after one, maybe two cycles of that, I’ll put them on the back burner for a quarter or six months. And then try it again.

 

Will Bachman  48:04

And of the folks that do respond, do you like would you say that a decent percentage of them like what, like give us a rough maybe feel for it are only responding after you’ve reached out to them three times, like on the fourth time, you call them you sent LinkedIn, you sent an email and then a week later you email them again. And finally, the response is that like a decent percentage of it, that it took three times of just, you know, they heard your name a couple times. And finally they’re like, Okay, they check you out, and say, Okay, I’ll take a call with this person. So it’s worth the effort to to do multiple reach outs,

 

Evan Polin  48:44

it’s worth the effort to do multiple reach outs. Again, I don’t I have found in the reason I’ve come to a conclusion in terms of how often I follow up is because on the third, fourth fifth cycle, I’m not getting any more positive feedback than I got after the first or second cycle. The other thing I will do that I didn’t mention, if I go through the cycle, and didn’t get a response, if you’ve got a newsletter, if you are providing some kind of content. I am putting that person on the email list or on the newsletter list with the ability to unsubscribe, if they don’t want to get the content. But especially if you’re putting out good content, I find that sometimes what will help is they won’t respond right away. But after they get your content for six months, and you’ve built up some credibility, that then they will respond after that. So for any anybody listening to this podcast that is creating content, they’re just doing a blog doing a newsletter, if you can get folks to subscribe to that. That really helps with credibility over long term, especially if you are providing professional services, consulting services, some kind of expertise. Sometimes people just need to see that expertise over a period of time. Before feeling like you had the credibility for them to have a conversation with you

 

Will Bachman  50:08

love it. Okay. So create content on a regular basis. It’s the message

 

Evan Polin  50:14

I get. Do you know anything about that?

 

Will Bachman  50:20

We’re episode 513 or something. So I’ve done a few few. Okay, Evan, this is fantastic. If folks want to find up and follow up and learn about your firm, where should they go?

 

Evan Polin  50:38

If folks want to learn about the firm, they can go to Polen PG. So that’s P O L I N. P like Paul G like george.com. They can email me at Evan is ein at polling pg.com. Or they can call the office at 215-970-2360

 

Will Bachman  51:06

many ways to get in touch with Evans firm and we’ll include that info in the show notes. Evan, this has been fantastic. I mean, I like I said, I’m gonna listen to this episode again, because I’m a lot of practical tips here that I’m gonna think about incorporating and to what we do. So, Evan, thank you so much for joining. This was very, very helpful.

 

Evan Polin  51:30

Thank you. I really appreciate your time in this was great.

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