How to make clients listen to you

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Why don’t clients listen? Make them hang on every word you say by following these steps.

Clients can be so stubborn!

From a subscriber“I have this one stubborn client who never does anything I say. I’m ready to throw in the towel.”

I have four children under 10 years old (= chaos, btw). I find myself saying things like this:

“If all four of you jump on Daddy’s back at the same time like that, he is going to wind up in the emergency room.”

But nobody ever listens.

One day I blurted out:

“You can all have a turn, but only one of you can jump on Daddy’s back at a time.”

Here’s why it worked.

When you want to persuade someone to do something and get a client to listen to you, show them the positive opposite of what they are doing.

Take these actions TODAY

Instead of arguing or throwing confusion at them, help the person visualize a more positive scenario that is the result of behaving differently.

Examples of the “positive opposite”:

They say: “I’m not sure when I can meet about doing that financial plan. Maybe next month.”

You say: “I only suggest creating a financial plan when I see an action that needs to happen soon. Let’s meet next week and avoid the risk of committing an oversight that may not be possible to fix.”


They say: “I have $2MM, but I’d like to start by giving you $50k.”

You say: “We only work with your entire portfolio because it is the only way we can manage your wealth properly and deliver the maximum possible value of our services.”


They say: “Why didn’t I get 25% return this year? I could have invested in the stocks Cramer mentioned on his show and done better than you did for me.”

You say: “I would only be comfortable with you getting double digit returns if you had a risk tolerance that equated to a standard deviation of 10% or higher.”

In short, this what you need to do to get clients to stop ignoring you:

Show clients the positive opposite using the word “only” because it:

  • Avoids having them feel judged;
  • Displays thoughtfulness;
  • Implies exclusivity;
  • Creates urgency;
  • Shows that you are focused on them – you are observant of them and have selected them because they fit the “only;” and
  • Inspires action by demonstrating cause and effect.



BOOM – there you go, today’s marketing tip for ya!

What if they won’t call you back?


The other day my son’s doctor’s office called, and this is the last line of the voicemail.

“I’m Jennifer and you can reach me at 718-blah blah zahh, blah zah smah blah.”

No joke.

Now do you see why nobody wants to call anyone back?

Do you think we make it hard, just a little bit?

Take this action TODAY:

  • Say the callback number two times when you leave a voicemail.
  • Say the callback number at half speed, literally at half the speed, as your normal speaking speed, and annunciate each number. You might sound ridiculous but to the person you are calling, it shows great empathy and consideration.
  • Always call from the same number you want them to call you back on. It drives me bonkers when somebody calls me and I can’t just tap their number in my missed calls list. Don’t you dare me make have to drag out a pen and paper, and then listen to the whole voicemail again to get your number!
  • Don’t call right before you are about to bolt. I have doctor’s offices calling me at 4:55 and then if I miss them, I have to wait until the next day to talk about something important or scramble to catch them as they are running out the door. If you want to be taken seriously, be available for at least a half hour after you leave the voicemail. Or, make sure somebody else from your office is.
  • Actually sound enthusiastic. Listen to some Jon Bon Jovi (who else is Gen X, whoo hoo!!!) before you make the calls. Hit them with some positive energy!
  • Say you callback number in the beginning of the message, that way if I play it back I don’t have to listen to the end to get it.

Look, nobody is going to call you back and clients won’t listen to you if you make it even the slightest bit unappealing.

Make it easy and – bonus – fun to dial you back and you’ll probably get the “unavailable” to call you back!

What if they won’t show up to the annual meeting?

From a subscriber“This one client keeps being a no-show for annual review meetings, canceling last minute. Why is he so rude?”

Who do you think you are, King Tutankhamun?

It’s not like you’re offering them Paul McCartney’s greatest hits.

Look, if you weren’t a financial advisor, would you really want to sit there and be bored to death with graphs and Excel sheets after a long day?

Real talk.

There’s no magic here – it comes down to how much effort you put into motivating people.

Take this action TODAY:

  • Have your admin call the day before and ask them if they prefer coffee or bourbon for their 9 AM meeting tomorrow (joke with them).
  • Say something funny to open the meeting. “So I thought for this year’s meeting, we would light your annual review packet on fire instead of reading it. What do you think of that idea?” (lol)
  • Help them visualize it. Send them a selfie video of you driving to your office, with shots of the highway and which exit to take, and where to park. Motivating music. Big smile. You’re talking about how much you hate paying the tolls but you do anyways. Then at the end turn to the camera and say this, “I very much have appreciate your faith in me, and look forward to seeing you tomorrow. Drive safely.”
  • Give them a delicious cookie on the way out the door, wrapped up in a nice gift box. Yes, food enticement is a form of bribery but this strategy has been demonstrated to work on people starting at elementary school age.
  • If you’re not into food, hand them a thank you card as they walk out the door.

In a world where the cell phone gets more attention than our closest relatives, reach out and show people a touch of personal attention – and do it with humor.

Be a little wacky, it’ll at least surprise them. In addition, it will make you rare and motivate clients to show up and listen to you, despite the inconvenience.

A word on managing difficult clients better

Should you just cut the difficult clients out of your practice?

No way!

Tough clients are the absolute best thing for your practice, because they are the ones who will help you grow radically.

Instead of going to some “feel good” gushy FPA conference that you pay $2,000 and get on a plane for, the best opportunity for exponential professional development is right here in front of your face.

There should be a “Tough Client CE credit”, lol.


They have the courage to express discontent, and that is one of the hardest things you can do to someone you like (they do like you – they hired you, remember?)

Expressive people will turn around and rave about your when they’re happy – even more easily than they’ll rant about you when they’re not.

The issue you are having with a tough client, here is the real issue.

There is one, singular, unmet expectation they are dying to have met, and they can’t get over it.

There is one thing their subconscious is saying, “I just don’t get it. I can’t be at peace until I feel good about this.” But they don’t know how to articulate the real issue.


Once you solve that, they will be the most loyal client in the world.

Take this action TODAY:

Sit down and figure out what the “killing them” expectation is.

  1. Write a list of all the things it could be.
  2. Write a list of the personality traits that they have, and figure out why somebody with those personality traits would exhibit the behaviors they are showing.
  3. What is the action you can take to handle this tendency of theirs better? Think about it, write about it, and even ask them directly – until you resolve the issue.

Because when you fix this, it’ll be the wow, wow, super-wow of your life.

The quiet, seemingly content clients (though lovable) are actually not doing that much for you.

Stop blaming and demonizing people who don’t have roses to say. See it as an opportunity to overcome communication challenges, learn how to get clients listen to you, and to earn trust at a level you never have before.

Sara’s upshot

Alright that’s all for now. I hope this blog about how to make clients listen was helpful.

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Or if you want more…

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

You could also consider this LinkedIn training program 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. See you in the next one!

-Sara G

Any questions? Send 'em in!