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Unleashed - How to Thrive as an Independent Professional

May 15, 2023

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.


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 


Polin Performance Group

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


215-970-2360 (office)

Unleashed is produced by Umbrex, which has a mission of connecting independent management consultants with one another, creating opportunities for members to meet, build relationships, and share lessons learned. Learn more at