5 step stall-breaker for the financial advisor sales funnel

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In this blog-podcast I am going to be talking about 5 financial advisor sales strategies to use to get that stalled prospect that just will not budge to become a client. Or a least to move them to the next step in the sales funnel. Stay tuned, folks!  

For those of new to my blog/podcast, I am Sara Grillo. Pleased to meet you!

For those of you who are new to my blog/podcast, my name is Sara. I am a CFA® charterholder and I used to be a financial advisor. I have a weekly newsletter in which I talk about financial advisor lead generation topics which is best described as “fun and irreverent.” So please subscribe!

Sara Grillo, CFA is a highly fun and slightly crazy marketing consultant based in NYC.
I am an insightful and fun marketing consultant for financial advisors.

In this podcast you’ll learn:

  • What is a sales stall?
  • Why do deals stall?
  • What goes through the prospect’s mind in a sales stall
  • How stalls originate
  • What to do at the point of sales stall origination
  • Financial advisor sales strategies that work and why they do (or don’t)

What is a sales stall and how does it impact a financial advisor’s sales funnel?

The silence between two people is very powerful if you view it that way. It is very telling in some ways about what the truth is that people feel inside, but will not say.

-Sara Grillo, CFA

A sales stall is a breakdown in communication between two people. The prospect has shut down and cut you off, and they may or may not even be conscious that they have done it.

Why do sales stalls happen?

There are all kinds of reasons that deals stall.

  • Perhaps there has been a personal circumstance in the prospect’s life
  • Maybe they weren’t that serious and were just using you for information to begin with, or were just looking to see what else is out there
  • It also happens quite a lot that you met with them, but failed to understand their needs and they walked out of the meeting feeling like you cared more about their money than them.
  • Sometimes prospects just see things a certain way for emotional reasons. For example, how many times have you heard someone say, “I’m interested but I don’t want to do anything in these crazy times (pandemic).” What they are really saying is that the value proposition wasn’t strong enough to allow them to overcome their fears about the future.
  • Did something weird happen in the meeting, like your Zoom line went down and it was hard to recover after that point? We’ve all been there. People are understanding however sometimes it can make you look just ever so slightly like you don’t have it all together.

Lemme tell you a quick story on that.

I remember two winters ago I was preg with my fourth child. I had this monster sinus infection that lasted from the end of January until the baby was born in March. I didn’t take antibiotics because it’s debatable but I just felt like it wouldn’t be the best thing for the baby.

Anyways, continuing the story, I literally had a sinus infection for the better part of two months. During this time, I was doing some prospect follow up calls and there was someone who had expressed interest. I was leaving a voicemail for this one prospect and in the middle of the it I was overcome. I had a choking fit for 20 seconds, could not complete the message, and had to hang up the phone.

Well, suffice to say I never heard back from the guy, no matter what I did. The deal stalled permanently after that. The point of my story is that some of the time the stall is going to be attributable to things you can control (how you conduct the meeting, the questions you ask, etc), and other times to things you can’t control (e.g. a merger or acquisition).

But either way, a sales stall can really mess up a financial advisor’s sales funnel. They need to be overcome and there is a process for doing that which I will get into later on in this blog.

A sales stall can really mess up a financial advisor’s sales funnel.

-Sara Grillo, CFA

How do sales stalls originate?

Before I get to the actual sales strategies financial advisors can use, let’s talk about how stalls originate.

A sales stall begins before you end the meeting.

-Sara Grillo, CFA

Imagine that in your meeting, you are sitting at a table with puzzle pieces strewn across it. These pieces represent information about you and about them. You and the prospect have to put the pieces of the puzzle together in a way that makes sense for you, so that the in the end the solved puzzle is recognizable to you and also the prospect.

You have to create a puzzle that depicts a scene of both of you, one that you are both happy with. Throughout this process, you put a piece into the puzzle, and then they put a piece in. You put a piece in, and they put a piece in. you put a piece in, and they put a piece in. Taking turns one after the other putting piece into the puzzle, and the final piece is the agreement they sign to become your client.

When there aren’t enough emotional pieces in place, when there isn’t enough information in place in the puzzle, the prospect doesn’t know where the final piece goes. There are so many pieces missing that they can’t even see where the final piece fits. If there are so many gaps in the puzzle that the final piece could go in the right hand corner, in the middle, in the upper left, in the lower left hand corner. If it’s not clear to them where the final pieces fits and they can’t see it easily. If it’s not natural, then you are not going to close the deal.

Why does this analogy matter? I thought we were talking about sales strategies for financial advisors here not puzzles!

5 sales strategies for financial advisors who want to get new clients

#1 Examine the puzzle

Look at the puzzle and see which pieces are missing from the prospect’s point of view. ee the deal from the prospect’s point of view. You can try making a list of all the information the client has about you. Which pieces did they put into the puzzle? How many pieces are missing? Which pieces are missing, if you were looking at it as they see it?

Maybe there are too many gaps in the puzzle and that is why they can’t figure out where the final piece should go. Or maybe it is because they simply are not seated at the table anymore.

Looking at things this way can help you see why they can’t put the final piece into the puzzle. Without this information you can not overcome the stall.

#2 Research where they are in the financial advisor sales funnel process

Do the research on the prospect’s history with you since the stall started. Can you gauge the level of interest? You have to research and interpret where they are in this puzzle game.

See if they are checking your newsletter, liking your SM updates, etc. Are they ignoring all of your emails? What, if any, contact have you had since the first meeting and what was their response? It’s possible that they have exited the deal and not even told you about it.

When you are doing this, consider how the prospect is used to communicating with you. Some prospects, for example, are just not going to respond to voicemails. I always hear from financial advisors who say, oh I left a voicemail and they didn’t call me back. I actually get mad when people call me on my phone unsolicited. The only people that I actually answer when they call are my parents, my brother, my client, Antonio, my kids’ school and the pediatrician. Period.

The point is that it might not be a stall if you are communicating with them the wrong way.

#3 Come up with a two sentence stall breaker

This is a make up conversation. Anyone who has a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend knows what it’s like to make up from a fight. This is along the same lines.

No writing books here; they won’t read it. This is not a love letter. Two sentences only.

Do you know what it’s like when you have a fight with your man and your woman, and it gets to the point where emotions are pretty flatlined – on both sides. When the both of you are burnt out of the fight. It’s at the point where both of you just don’t even have the energy to fight anymore or even fully communicate. And the fight becomes silence.

And then you say something humble that allows you to make up. That’s kinda what you are going for here. Once I was having this fight with Antonio and he was sitting there shut down, and instead of trying to fight and go back over it I just said to him, “Do you want to tell me what’s on your mind?”

And that was enough to solve the issue.

As you know I have four children and sometimes children can become non communicative. And so sometimes I’ll just look at them and say, “What’s going on?” That always works.

The point I am trying to make here is that instead of trying to pitch, promote, fix, or carry on with your agenda it is probably best to find out what is on theirs.

Other examples:

  • Send them an emoji message. “Is this deal still alive or am I in the dark?” (emoji of person scratching their chin)
  • “Okay so what should I put on the list of ways that the proposal I sent you wasn’t up to your expectations?”
  • “I know that in our last conversation, what I was trying to talk about with you wasn’t 100% what you wanted to hear. So if we ever get the chance to talk again, I wouldn’t talk I would just listen.” (This is if you really messed up and misread them during the first meeting and they went completely cold).
  • “I know that in our last conversation, I was trying to talk about a bunch of technical stuff and when I thought about it, that’s probably the last thing you want to hear right now. If I would have done it differently, I would have listened a heck of a lot more.

Don’t add more to the conversation. Add less and focus on quality.

Just say something intuitive that shows you have some idea about the fact that things between the two of you are not working. Because at least you are calling it out in the open. Kind of as if you are contrite. As if you messed up and you want to know what you need to do differently. People respect that. it’s rare, humble, and mature.

If you did the work in step #1 you really should have a sense of what the cause of the stall is.

#4 Wait two weeks

I have heard from so many clients who say “This deal is in a stall. I reached out and the person did not respond back.”

I say, “How long ago?”

“Four hours ago.”


I have so many clients whose minds work like a Pentium and they think so quickly. But at the same time you must understand that people have their lives and not every deal is stalled because the person didn’t get back to you right away. After two weeks it may be a true stall but it depends on who you are talking to. What is their normal response time?

Two weeks will make you not appear overly eager or irritate them.

#5 Try two more times

Try two more ultra creative reach outs that are not the same as what you did before.

I hear people say all the time, “I emailed and the prospect is ignoring my emails. What should I email them next week?”

So why are you still emailing? As if that is the only way to communicate with someone. Don’t continue to communicate in a fashion that they are ignoring. Don’t continue to communicate with them about something that they are ignoring.


  • Send them a book
  • Send them a telegram
  • Drop off something at their house
  • Make a personalized video message

The silence between two people is very powerful if you view it that way. It is very telling in some ways about what the truth is that people will not say. It sounds so common sense but when you get silence you should be thinking to yourself, what should I be doing differently this time? And it should be drastically different.  

After two creative reach outs, close the case for about six months. Keep them on your marketing lists but leave them alone for a bit.

Sara’s upshot

What’d ya think of this blog on sales strategies for financial advisors? Was this helpful?

If yes…

Learn what to say to prospects on social media messenger apps without sounding like a washing machine salesperson. This e-book contains 47 financial advisor LinkedIn messages, sequences, and scripts, and they are all two sentences or less.

This is a book about financial advisor LinkedIn messages which contains scripts you can use to get new prospects.

You could also consider my financial advisor social media membership which teaches financial advisors how to get new clients and leads from LinkedIn.

The Sara Grillo membership is a social media program for financial advisors - but only the cool ones.

Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll at least join my weekly newsletter about financial advisor lead generation.

See you in the next one!

-Sara G

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