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Special announcement

I am going to be releasing an e-book entitled, “47 Financial Advisor Messages and Sequences that Will Not Make You Sound Stupid“. Please click here to join the mailing list and be notified.

I wrote this e-book for financial advisors who want to be perceived as high quality people on social media. This e-book contains 47 messages you can use on social media messenger to reach prospects, COIs, and other useful connections that would benefit your practice.

This e-book is not fancy or highly decorated. True to my nature this is a no BS, straight to the point piece of writing.

These messages serve to inspire your own thought about what to say to someone on social media. You can customize them to your tone and style.

The e-book is free for current clients and anyone who is currently subscribed to my membership. It is my best work and these ideas are not disclosed publicly to non clients and non members anywhere else in my other published content.

Please click the link below and join the mailing list to be notified when it is out!

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This financial advisor is kicking ass with COIs

Financial advisor Matthew Jarvis of Jarvis Financial is kicking ass when it comes to cultivating COI relationships. Learn what he’s doing by listening to this podcast.

-Sara Grillo, CFA

Resources mention in this podcast


Nice to You by the Vibe Tracks

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Financial advisors can get more people to go to their website!

In this pod/blog I am going to talk about how financial advisors can get more people to go to their websites using some super dope Google moves. Is your website just hanging out there lonely with nobody paying any attention to it? There is something that can be done about it and I’m about to teach you about it!

I’m joined by Samantha Russell of Twenty over Ten in this podcast.

In this pod/blog you’ll learn:

  • How much of a time and money commitment is takes to increase your Google rank
  • What is long form content
  • A success story of a financial advisor who went from 6 clients to 50 clients by driving massive traffic to his website using long form content in

For those of new to my blog/podcast, I am Sara Grillo.

Pleased to meet you!

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.

Before we get started, did you subscribe to the podcast? The link is here!

This is the way to subscribe to the Sara Grillo podcast.
My podcast is fun and irreverent. You’ll learn something and be entertained.

Getting more people to go to your financial advisor website is hard freaking work!

I am in Google position one for a few keyword search terms, and let me tell you that it freaking rocks. When I first started out on YouTube, I was making three videos a day with no money coming in the door. It took time. ANd I had two kids under two years old at the time.

(Btw here are some definitions for the terms I just used. Sorry to vocab bomb you).

  • Google position one: the first entry that comes up when you enter a search term into Google
  • Keyword search term: the words you type into Google that bring up certain content.

That is the first thing I want to tell you. It’s not going to happen overnight. You want to think of it like you are creating marketing assets that will accrue value over time. Kind of like a dividend stock or a bond is a long term investment.

You financial advisors hate it when a client says, here’s my $100,000. Turn it into $1,000,000 and you have two months to do it.

Saaaaay what?

That’s not how it works. Marketing works similar to how investments work. It’s a long term game. Now you may get lucky and get a viral hit right away but that’s not the normal case.

How financial advisors can use Google to get more people to their website [success story]

There once was a financial advisor who went independent and launched his own firm. He was 33 at the time and did not have a big brand behind him. So he started writing long form content.

  • Long form content: 1800-2400 going in depth on one very granular topic

The specific keyword search term he used was “can capital gains push me into a higher tax bracket.” Over two years he went from six family friends being his clients to 50 C-Suite executives mostly from his local area. All because of this blog post blowing up and getting more people to his financial advisor website.

The point is that you don’t need to be creating a new piece of content every day. Create content that answers questions that the type of people you want to work with have.

Google snippets are the Holy Grail for financial advisors who want to get more people to go to their website

If you are a financial advisor who wants to drive more people to your website, there is a really price thing and it is being featured in the Google snippets.

Google snippet:

You search something, and you don’t even have to click and go to that person’s website to find out the answer. Google pulls the answer into a little answer box for you. This is also called “Google position zero.”

Here is an example of a Google snippet about Social Security.

The financial advisor in the story mentioned above has that; he is in Google position zero (Google snippet) for the search term we mentioned.

Optimizing content is important for financial advisors who want more website traffic

Like any asset, Google content must be refreshed. This is called optimization. It is recommended that at least every six months you are going back and optimizing your top performing posts. When you optimize a post, you want to:

  • Republish it with a new publish date so Google knows it is fresh
  • You never, ever, ever want to change the url. You will break the link.
  • You can add new imagery
  • You can add new outbound links (linking to another piece of content)
  • You can add new inbound links (linking to your content from your own content)

You don’t want to have an orphan post. For every blog you have, you want to have:

  • Two incoming links
  • Two outgoing links

What is an outbound link?

If I write a piece today on the new LinkedIn stories feature, I want to make sure that in my post I hyperlink certain terms to other content. For example, I would hyperlink the words “social media strategy” to an old blog post on my website talking about social media strategy. Remember you want to keep people on your own site.

Also, this will help improve your Google rank because the more time people spend on your website for a particular topic, the more that Google will see you as an authority on that particular topic. It’s helping Google crawl your site and understand how things are interconnected.

Key point: You want at least two links going to another blog post on your website.

What is an incoming link?

You want to go back to old blog posts and link to the new blog from those old pieces. This helps direct traffic to your new content and again, it keeps people on your site.

Most people forget to do this.

By the way, are you enjoying my blog/podcast? If so, please consider joining my membership. You’ll learn a ton about how financial advisor lead generation and I’m great to work with. Here’s more information about it below.

How financial advisors can get more website traffic on Google

Financial advisors who want to get more website traffic using Google should remember this simple acronym.


  • Expertise
  • Authority (domain authority)
  • Trust

Twenty over Ten wrote a great article on it that you can read here.

You may have been a financial advisor for 30 years, but if you just launched a new website, your website has no authority on Google. You build domain authority by getting other people to link to your website. To established authority, you have to get people to come visit your website and stay on there a long period of time, to not just come on there and bounce off right away.

There are lots of different things that impact domain authority.

  • The length of your site. How long it’s been out there.
  • How in depth you go on a particular topic. If you an write for 1800-2400 words, it will help you be seen as an authority because in Google’s eyes it means you are able to talk at length about the topic at hand.

Now, let me pause on this for a minute.

Financial advisors, stop going broad. Stop going wide. Go narrow. Because it’s going to make your practice better in general. But it’s also going to make your marketing better.

Said differently: stop marketing if it just going to be the same high level mish mosh. Let me tell you that you are never going to beat Vanguard or Fidelity on the topic of “what is a Roth IRA.” You’re competing with a million dollar marketing budget or probably even more. Pay attention to the little niche details that nobody else has the energy to pay attention to.


I’m often hired as a ghostwriter and the financial advisors hands me three other financial advisors’ blogs and tells me, “Imitate what they’re saying.”


If I, as a ghostwriter, could be hired to do your job of expounding upon a particular topic, then how much of an expert are you? What does that say about your level of expertise?

Did you ever think about getting more knowledge instead of copying other financial advisors?

So many of you financial advisors are just in the game because you are the one to show up at the grandkids’ nursery school graduation. Or that you’ll handhold the client like heck. With the younger generations though this is going to become less valuable. You need to have expertise if you want to command the value you deserve.

I’m not a good marketing consultant and this is not a good podcast if I don’t say things like this. You know that I love you but sometimes there is going to be a little bit of tough love here on this podcast. Stay up later at night. Heck, I got four kids. How am I out there getting game on Google are you’re not?

And then there’s Antonio on top of the four kids. That’s like having five kids, dammit.

Think about who you want to target and think about the types of things that they would be searching for. If you don’t know this, then pay attention the next time you meet with these types of clients and write down what they say.

Let me write that again.

You want to write down the exact words they use and don’t edit them. Because if you do that you’ll add all sorts of financial advisor mumbo jumbo in there and that’s not how non-financial people talk. If you want to get non-financial people to be attracted to your website that then it what you do. If you use financial advisor terminology then guess who is going to be attracted to your website – other financial advisors!

Key point: Meet with your clients or prospects and then write down the exact words they say when they ask you questions. Do not change what they say. Do not edit their words.

By the way, once you get the lead, here is some advice about how to move them through your sales funnel as a financial advisor.

Niche focus helps financial advisors who want to get Google to send them more traffic to their website

The more niche specific you are, the faster you will get authority on Google. If you are targeting a small niche segment of the population, you are going to have only a small amount of queries a month, but the people who visit you will be more likely to be qualified.

This I have found to be true. I niched down on my YouTube channel for the term “equity research analyst” and “equity research analyst interview.” I make a video every week or so on this topic (yes, I am beating this keyword to death) and use these keywords. I mention my e-book on this topic in the middle of the video. And voila – people buy my book, and I am in touch with them over email. It draws in people who are focused on this topic.

I don’t get a million people a week to watch my videos but I’m selling e-books and my newsletter list is growing rapidly.

You can use Google Analytics and Google Search Console (both free tools) to figure out which keyword terms to niche down on. You may only get 30 people a month on your website, but if the chairman of Coca-Cola is one of those people then that is successful lead generation for a financial advisor. Wouldn’t you say?

Beat the keyword term to death doing this:

  • Write about it in five million different ways or more
  • Create a checklist
  • Make an e-book about it
  • Create an infographic about it

How to optimize a financial advisor website on Google

With your website in general, there are a few things you need to do if you are a financial advisor who wants to get more website traffic.

  • Create content on a particular subject that will drive traffic to the site. Update your website at least twice a month with this content.
  • When you set up the main page of your site (home, services, etc.), use the formula of primary keyword, secondary keyword, and company name in your page title. Do that for every single page.


  • Your page title for your home page should be something like: Financial planner for women in Manhattan/Sara Grillo
  • The secondary keyword is often your location. Often financial advisors like to work in their own community.

Another example:

  • Financial planner for expatriates in Norfolk, Virginia/YZ company name.

How do you find out which keywords you want to use? You may need to hire an SEO expert to do this. You can also use tools like Google Search Console to find out how you are showing up for those terms already.


A 22 year old could do this. Do you have a son or daughter in college? Ask them to watch a YouTube tutorial and learn how to do it. It costs nothing so don’t even try to make the cost excuse.

You should also make sure to optimize your Google My Business listing. Put photos there and make sure it’s easy for Google to understand what your business is and what it does.

Sara’s upshot

The three things that financial advisors should do to get more people to go their website are:

  • Set up and optimize your Google My Business
  • Go back and look at your website. When was the last time you added a new blog post or updated it? Update it at least twice a month and hire it out if you need to.
  • Think about what keywords you want to be found for and create a keyword tree that represents the search queries that people would have within that group. Start creating content that has those keywords.

Thanks for reading the blog and I hope I have inspired you financial advisors to kick ass and get a ton more people to go to your websites.

Join my membership and you’ll receive monthly videos and workshops in which I guide you through the nuances it takes to put all these tips into effect and get the results you want.

It’ll be fun and when you join please send me a note if you have any password issues.

Talk to you soon!


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5 Financial Advisor Lead Magnets that make prospects go HECK YEAH!

Here are 5 financial advisor lead magnets that are going to make prospects say HECK YEAH!

In this blog/podcast I am going to talk to you about examples of 5 financial advisor magnets that make prospects go HECK YEAH.

For those of new to my blog/podcast, I am Sara Grillo.

I’m an insightful and slightly crazy marketing consultant based in NYC.

Pleased to meet you!

I am a CFA® charterholder, financial author and a former financial advisor. I do weekly podcasts on financial advisor lead generation so please subscribe here so you won’t miss any of my blog/podcasts on financial advisor marketing and lead generation.

You can finish reading the blog below or you can scroll to the end and listen to the podcast which is highly entertaining.

Please scroll to the bottom of this page to hear the podcast (if you are into podcasts and want to listen instead).

What to expect in this blog

It seems like lead magnets aren’t really that well understood by financial advisors.

I decided to make this show because some of you financial advisors don’t even know what a lead magnet is. Or you’re using one that is not getting you anywhere. Or so you don’t see the point of giving away free info to people who aren’t your clients.

In this blog/podcast, I’m going to talk about:

  • What a lead magnet is
  • How does the lead magnet help financial advisors in their sales funnel
  • What makes a good lead magnet
  • 5 examples of good financial advisor lead magnets

Let’s get started!

The basics on lead magnets for financial advisors

What is a lead magnet? It is a document that is gated, meaning that the user has to input their information (usually email address) in order to download it. This allows the owner of the content to build their prospect email base.

Lead magnets can be very helpful to the financial advisor sales funnel.

Sales funnel, you say?

Learn more about financial advisor sales funnels in this video below.

If your lead magnet is especially thought provoking and insightful it can help do some of the selling for you by making a great first impression. It can make the prospect feel curious about the financial advisor and be compelled to learn more or even meet him or her.

What makes a good lead magnet? Here are some general guidelines.

  • Give them enough information that they feel you are an authority, but not the whole thing.
  • Make sure to cover material that other financial advisors do not. You will have to do some work here, but the great part is that the competition has made them freely and publicly available to avail yourself of. Start downloading!
  • Don’t offer the same dry old clichéd downloads that financial advisors typically do. You know, the retirement calculator? The Social Security worksheet, etc.

When I first started my business, I launched a YouTube channel at the same time. I had a few great lead magnets that solidified by subscriber base and led many of my first clients to find me. The videos I was making were about how to pass the CFA exam and there were also many tutorials about how to model stocks in Excel. In these videos, I offered a free CFA planner and a free set of sample research models.

As of the time of writing this blog, people still come to me in hot pursuit of these lead magnets. The reason was that I dug down deep. The CFA study planner featured a day by day map of what to do in the months preceding the exam. The Excel models were basics but still offered a high level of sophisticated technical information from my past days as a research analyst. They were solid, well thought out, high quality lead magnets. It took me some time to create them, but it paid off cumulatively year over year and as of today it still does.

Why financial advisors tend to (wrongfully) shy away from lead magnets

Some financial advisors object to lead magnets, saying they are not comfortable providing that much free information to someone before they become a client. Within this assumption lies the doubt that the prospect will become compelled to become your clients as a result of receiving the lead magnet.

Your lead magnet is far less likely to fail its goal of converting the random downloader into a solid lead if the person reading it says this to themselves:

HECK YEAH this is a great article. Who wrote this? That is the one financial advisor out there who is worthy of my respect.

HOLY SH*#. I learned something new today. I really appreciate the financial advisor who wrote this. I should email them and thank you.

FREAKIN’ A. I never have had someone explain this technical concept to me so clearly. What an awesome financial advisor this person must be. Imagine if he or she were the one servicing my account – I’d be so happy.

Now, the reason most people don’t say this when they read most financial advisor lead magnets is that usually the financial advisor doesn’t commit enough time creating them. So as a result they wind up being the same old BS retirement calculator or social security worksheet.

So to you who want to create lead magnets that actually work, my advice is to do the deal, financial advisors. Do the freaking deal. Get the deal done right there with the lead magnet by taking some time and making it go beyond what everyone else is doing. It’s that easy to tell what your competition is doing. You can go to their websites and down load the things.

By the way, did you listen to the podcast on this yet? It’s at the bottom of this page if you want to check it out. And while you are there, please subscribe!

5 examples of great Financial Advisor Lead Magnets

Now that we have covered the basics of what lead magnets are and how financial advisors can use them, let’s go over some specific examples. By the way, if you are digging my style then please check out my membership which offers access to my exclusive content about online marketing strategies for financial advisors.

#1 Traps to avoid when dealing with the Social Security Administration

Most financial advisor lead magnets about social security feature a calculator or a worksheet. I’m not a big fan of these types of lead magnets because you are essentially giving the DIY clients free reign to do it themselves. You are making their jobs way easier and they may not contact you.

Instead, I would outline the key challenges people who handle social security on their own commonly have. This allows you to build up some fear in the mind of the reader. Done correctly, the reader will get the impression that this is not the type of thing they want to do on their own – they’ll be in over their head.

While you’re giving them information, you’re giving them the headache side of it without proposing too many solutions. Try creating this as a video in addition to a downloadable blog and include a glossary in it as well.

#2 Money horoscope

This is a behavioral finance type thing for those of you financial advisors who are into that. Create some type of a sample emotional money journal and make it interesting by including a horoscope each month.

Be a teeeeny bit creative?

Yes. Don’t worry; nobody will have a heart attack upon reading it. It’s okay to be creative a little bit, financial advisors!

Turn their heads!

#3 Guide to Understanding your risk tolerance (for reeeeeal)

Miscalculation of risk and underperformance of the investment portfolio is a huge reason why people leave their financial advisor. Create a plain English risk tolerance questionnaire – but avoid the technical, esoteric questions that clients don’t have time to decipher. This is a good way to catch prospects who are ticked off at their current financial advisor.

#4 Budget for a particular event (hyper specific)

Don’t do a general budget worksheet. This is so played out. Design the budget for a particular event like getting your first mortgage, buying a house, or affording a wedding.

In fact, present a few models for these events. Get a few sample budgets to show variety and make sure they display the nuances relevant to the event.

#5 Script for what to say in your first meeting with a financial advisor (estate attorney, CPA, etc.)

This one is an SEO play. You want to write a blog with the keyword “financial advisor in [your city]”. So you make the title, “What to say in your first meeting with a financial advisor in [your city].” And then you repeat the keyword over and over in the blog. This will obviously attract people who are looking for a financial advisor in your area.

Conclusion on financial advisor lead magnets

If you found this blog helpful, please listen to my podcast below which goes into the subject in full detail. Remember to subscribe so you won’t miss future financial advisor lead generation pieces like these!

Or, are you ready to get started with some creative and fun marketing online marketing techniques? Join my membership here and let the fun begin!

More info about the Sara Grillo membership is here:

If you found this blog helpful, please subscribe to my podcast below which goes into the subject of financial advisor LinkedIn messages and sequences in fuller detail.

The words matter. Are you sure your LinkedIn messaging is good enough?

I am releasing an e-book entitled, “47 Financial Advisor LinkedIn Messages and Sequences that Will Not Make You Sound Stupid”. Click here to join the mailing list.

I wrote this e-book for financial advisors who want to be perceived as high quality people on social media. The e-book contains 47 messages you can use on LinkedIn or Facebook messenger to reach prospects, COIs, and other useful connections that would benefit your practice.

This e-book is not fancy or highly decorated. True to my nature this is a no BS, straight to the point piece of writing. These messages serve to inspire your own thought about what to say to someone on social media. You can customize them to your tone and style.

Thanks for visiting me and I hope you’ll come again!

-Sara Grillo, CFA

Music is Nice to You by Vibe Tracks 

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Ain’t never gonna beat the competition by copying them!

I realize you financial advisors think you’re “left-brained” (whatever), operating in accordance with logic, data, and fact and that’s fine. But at the same time I need everyone to understand one thing:

You ain’t never gonna beat the competition by copying them!

In this podcast I give you 5 ways to be more creative with your marketing so you can stop being a copycat of the financial advisors that you are competing with.

The controversial video mentioned in this podcast is here:

Join my membership and learn how to market yourself creatively:

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Stop fighting about fees by doing THIS

financial advisors who are fighting with their clients or prospects about fees should do take this action.

If you are fighting with clients or prospects who don’t want to pay your fees, here is the action you need to take.

Enjoy the show and please subscribe!


Music is Nice to You by the Vibe Tracks

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5 step stall-breaker for the financial advisor sales funnel

Stalls may happen in a financial advisor sales funnel and here is how to handle them!

In this podcast I am going to be talking about 5 steps to use to get that stalled prospect that just will not budge in your financial advisor sales funnel 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!

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
  • The 5 step process for getting a stalled prospect to move to the next step in your financial advisor sales funnel

Before we get started, did you subscribe to the podcast? The link is here!

This is the way to subscribe to the Sara Grillo podcast.
My podcast is fun and irreverent. You’ll learn something and be entertained.

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.

Here’s a pic of me preggos way back when, with my man, Antonio.

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

What goes through the prospect’s mind in a sales stall

So here’s a time when I stalled out on someone trying to sell me something. As you know, I have an autistic child. This is something I regard as freaking awesome and wouldn’t change for the world, by the way.  I’ve talked about our amazing journey with this beautiful gift and you can listen to the positive pills here.  

One of the psychologists that helped us with the diagnosis process had recommended a few behavioral therapists to help me manage my son’s behavioral tendencies. I guess I was operating under the premise that they were all child therapists specializing in autism and related conditions. So I emailed a bunch of them, thinking that this is going to be therapy for my child. Not for me, but actually for my son.

One of them did the good old bait-and-switch and it made me stall out pronto. By the way financial advisors, don’t do this move! You’re just going to get stalled out. And that is exactly what happened.

Listen to what happened, okay?

One therapist in particular was not a child psychologist at all, but rather a psychotherapist for adults. And she still felt it was cool to take up my time and lead me to believe that I needed her therapy anyways. She was very clever with the semantics of it and tried to sell me on the idea that talking to her would help me manage his condition better indirectly.

The end result, long story short, was that I kinda half bought it. I let myself get talked into it, and agreed to an appointment without giving her my insurance information. However shortly after I got off the phone the truth hit me which was that I had called this woman thinking she could help me manage my son’s meltdowns and instead I got sold therapy on managing the stress of having a child with autism. Useful, but not what I was originally looking for.

I emailed her a few hours later to cancel the appointment.

And that, my friends, is how sales sales are created! There is some fundamental misunderstanding that happens and it is usually due to the salesperson not understanding what the prospect needs, wants, or desires to know more about.

How do sales stalls originate?

In the previous example with the psychotherapist, when she said, “And now I’ll need your insurance information”, I responded with, “I’ll send it to you later.”

That’s significant.

You know you’re gonna get stalled out when someone says something like that. If she had been the therapist I had been looking for right then and there. That’s the key thing you have to understand about a stall. Let me write this with emphasis.

A sales stall begins before you end the meeting.

-Sara Grillo, CFA

A stall begins before you end the meeting. It doesn’t creep up after the meeting, as is commonly believed. In the therapist example, in the midst of her and I talking, here’s what was going through my mind. I’m thinking about the kind of stuff she’s going to want to talk about with me: My relationship with my own parents, my relationship with Antonio, how I handle stress.

And then the stall begins!

Because then I am thinking:

I don’t really want to talk about this with you. I want you to tell me what to do when my son has a meltdown because he keeps asking me to buy him Frosted Mini-Wheats at the grocery store and he keeps saying it over and over again and I just don’t know what to do. I need you to teach me how to help him calm himself down. I don’t to sit here and smoke a pipe with you (figuratively) and talk about how when I was little somebody showed up late to pick me up from school or something and for the rest of my life I’m bent out of shape whenever somebody does something I don’t like. Or whatever other psychoanalysis mumbo jumbo you want to tell me…this adult psychoanalysis stuff is just not for me.

So I get off the phone with this stall in mind. And then a few days later when she emailed me to confirm the meeting, the stall was in full effect because I said the line that so many of us hear so often:

“You know what – this is just a busy time in life. I’ll get back to you at a better time when I’m ready to move forward.”

Here are the signs a stall is beginning:

  • Any time someone refuses to provide specific information
  • Any time there is a shift in tone
  • Any time there is a shift in cadence

If she had been paying attention, she could have detected the stall before it happened. You’ve got to be like a detective and pay attention to these little cues that people are giving you. If you sense a stall is beginning in the meeting, address it in the meeting. It’s three times as hard to fix it after the meeting is over and you may not even get a chance to get back in front of them.

Maybe she could have said something like:

  • Would you mind explaining why it is that you are hesitant to provide me with your insurance information even though you have expressed interest in moving forward?
  • You know what, I’m appreciating the conversation here, Sara, but I’m just not getting the sense that this is 100% a certain thing in your mind. Could you tell me about what’s holding you back?
  • Is there a certain thing holding you back? Because normally when people will not commit to a date it is a signal that they have not completely committed to spending time with me and I would rather know if that is the case than have you here on my calendar.

All are respectable ways of addressing a sales stall when it begins.

The financial advisor sales funnel and sales stalls

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 here not puzzles! It relates to step #1 in overcoming sales stalls in the financial advisor sales funnel.

5 steps for overcoming sales stalls in your financial advisor sales funnel

#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

Thanks for reading the blog and I hope I have inspired you financial advisors to overcome all sales stalls you may encounter in your financial advisor sales funnel.

Join my membership and you’ll receive monthly videos and workshops in which I guide you through the nuances it takes to put all these tips into effect and get the results you want. Here’s more information below.

Or at the very least, please subscribe to my fun and irreverent podcast and learn financial advisor lead generation techniques. The link to subscribe is here.

This is the way to subscribe to the Sara Grillo podcast.
My podcast is fun and irreverent. You’ll learn something and be entertained.

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Social media advertising for financial advisors – don’t get played!

In this blog financial advisors will learn how to kickass using social media advertising

I see a lot of financial advisers throwing money down the drain on social media advertising that does not work. If you are a financial advisor advertising on social media, don’t get played. I’m going to right some wrongs in this podcast. Coming right up!

For those of new to my blog/podcast, I am Sara Grillo.

Pleased to meet you!

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

I am a CFA® charterholder, financial author and a former financial advisor. I do weekly podcasts on financial advisor lead generation so please subscribe here so you won’t miss any of my blog/podcasts on financial advisor marketing and lead generation.

This is the way to subscribe to the Sara Grillo podcast.
My podcast is fun and irreverent. You’ll learn something and be entertained.

You can finish reading the blog below or you can scroll to the end and listen to the podcast which is highly entertaining.

Please scroll to the bottom of this page to hear the podcast (if you are into podcasts and want to listen instead).

What is social media advertising for financial advisors?

I want you to go to LinkedIn and look at your news feed.

I’ll give you a minute.

Are you there yet?

You’re probably seeing that the first posting is one from someone in your network. It’s going to be a native, non-sponsored posting. You see some posting about somebody saying they are so glad they got a new job or something, right?

The second posting, however, is always a sponsored advertisement. You should see the word “promoted” in the top left hand corner of the posting. What’s happened is that some advertiser has paid LinkedIn to serve up this ad to you, based on your demographic information, browsing history, and activity history on the platform. For example, I am always clicking on military news, videos, and media because of my love of the US military. And by the way, if any of you are reading this who are either in active service or are vets, thanks so much for your service. Love you for protecting our freedom!

Well, whataya know, when I watch YouTube, the commercial that come up are related to services for military vets. Because of my tendency to watch military videos, YouTube thinks I am either a military person or close to someone who is. I’m profiled this way based upon what I spend my time doing on social media.

LinkedIn is roping you in by showing you a “cool” posting from someone you already know (supposedly, because they are in your network. And then once they’ve got you, they are going to serve up an advertisement so that hopefully you click. Once you click, LinkedIn can then say to the advertiser, “Hey, you owe us $15!”  LinkedIn makes a lot of yen off people this way.

When financial advisors should advertise on social media

While advertising is a huge money makers for the social media platforms that do it, it generally does not work out as well for the advertisers. As far as social media advertising goes for financial advisors, I see many of you throwing money away by doing it wrong and others of you not doing it at all. In both scenarios the problem is the same and it is that you are missing the opportunity to reach the people who need you – and this comes at a very high price.

So you have to do it right – I’ll get to that part later – but first let’s start with the basic question of when it makes sense for a financial advisor to advertise on social media.

Modest network

If you have a small network of followers, you might not be able to get visibility with new prospects. Let’s say you have 100 people following you. There may be a few prospects, 2 or 3 at most, but it’s not likely that they’ll be in the market for your services when you want them to be. You need a nice full pipeline and that comes from meaningful interactions on a larger scale than probably what a 100 person network can bring. Social media advertising can allow you to be visible to more people in this situation. You’ve got to expand your visibility, and you’ve got to do that by paying for it.

You’d rather die than write a blog

I’ve had great episodes with social media success stories Josh Scandlen and Ben Brandt who built networks of tens of thousands using keywords and SEO techniques. These are content producers (podcasts, YouTube videos, blogs).

Not every financial advisors is a great content producer with tons to say and the willingness/ability to put in the time to consistently post. If you aren’t able to leverage the power of Google’s algorithms, you may be the kind of financial advisor that social media advertising may be right for.

Social media advertising budget is big buckos!

How much should a financial advisor set aside for social media advertising? I’ll give you a baseline social media advertising budget but first let me explain what the contents are.

You’ll need to have someone that knows what they are doing to target the ad, create it, and test it. If you don’t know what you are doing, you’ll need to hire a professional marketing consultant. This usually goes for $500 or more per month. Agencies can cost in the thousands per month.

There are two ways that LinkedIn can charge you – by impression or by click.

  • Impressions means that someone looked at your ad for a certain amount of time. I believe that at the time of this blog, it is three seconds. If someone looks at your ad for three seconds, that counts as an impression and LinkedIn charges you.
  • You can also pay by click. If someone clicks on your ad to read it, you pay LinkedIn.

Messaging ads are generally far less costly than news feed ads. This is no guarantee and pricing always varies depending upon the advertiser, but I have seen clients of mine send paid LinkedIn messaging ads for $0.70 an impression. News feed ads are far more costly. Generally here you should not expect to pay less than $4 per ad, and for many clients of mine I’ve seen it as high as $10 to $15 per click.

Beaucoup bucks, no? Now you see why they want everyone to advertise!

I’d expect to put aside $500 to $750 per month in advertising budget if you want to get significant traction. You’re probably not going to get anywhere spending $150 a month.

So if you’re going to advertise, you really need to do it right – and that’s what I’m about to get to.

By the way, are you enjoying this blog so far? I’d love for you to join my membership if so. It’s really fun to work with me, it won’t cost you a fortunate, and you’ll be inspired and learn alot.

Here’s more info about it below. 😉

Financial advisors social media advertising success depends heavily on targeting

Social media platforms serve up your ad to people based upon what they know about them. Let me make the key point here that this is not always what they really are – it’s who the platform believes them to be.

As an example, let’s say a financial advisor is trying to reach parents of children who are either about to go to college or are currently in college. Maybe you run an ad intended to reach people ages 40 to 60 who visited the New York 529 plan website. This may put your ad in front of many qualified prospects – but it will also put you in front of:

  • Employees of the New York 529 plan company
  • Vendors to the New York 529 plan company – for example the IT team that created the site and maintains it
  • Other financial advisors researching the New York 529 plan

These cohorts may turn out to be qualified, but they’re not really your ideal match, are they? Is $15 spent on one of these people clicking a great use of your money? Not really.

Targeting is essential for financial advisors doing social media advertising. Here are a few examples of how to do it.

You could specify Audience Attributes.

For example, you could select company name if you are trying to reach employees who work at Cisco systems. You could also specify a certain location, perhaps within 25 miles of your office, using the location filter.

You could also target the audience by job title, let’s say “senior manager” or “senior systems engineer.”

You could create Audiences.

You could upload a list of company names or known contacts. For these known contacts, you’d have to provide LinkedIn with their email, first and last name, etc. LinkedIn will find them on the platform and serve up your ad to this audience.

You can also create a lookalike audience. Let’s say you want to reach college professors. You can upload a list of college professors you know, and tell LinkedIn to create an audience with similar characteristics.  

Financial advisors should know that targeting is the most important factor when it comes to social media advertising. You can have a so-so ad and if it’s targeted right it will probably work out okay. You can have the best ad in the world and if the target is poor you are going to get played.

How financial advisors can maximize success with social media advertising

Like I said, the most important thing is the targeting. And here are some other things to keep in mind if you are a financial advisor looking to get the most out of your social media advertising.

A/B testing

You create two advertising campaigns that are the same except for one variable. There is one group you call Group A (control group). There is another group you call Group B (variable group).

Let’s revisit the college professor example. You run the ad with targeting by job title. Group A has the title of “lecturer” while Group B has the title “professor”.  How do you know which one does better? You look at the performance graphs for each campaign. LinkedIn creates these. Example of some LinkedIn performance graphs for past ads I have run are below.  You can filter the graphs to hone in on different data.

LinkedIn Demographic Report Sample

On the demographic report you can see how many ads were sent to various job titles, the open rate, the absolute number of opens, etc.

LinkedIn Performance Graph: Sample

The performance graph will show you the sheer number of hits. Look here for nuances in hit flow.

Maximizing performance of social media ads is really important for financial advisors. The reason is that just like a borrower gets better interest rates when he or she has a better credit score, you are charged lower advertising costs for being a successful advertiser.

Remember that LinkedIn simply wants people to click on your ads. Showing the platform you are going to allow that to happen will encourage them to want to help you by lowering your cost of advertising (cost per click or cost per impression). I suggest testing with a small amount of dough before you spend the full monte.

Be concise

As text is inherently limited in social media advertising, you’ll have to communicate in brief. For messenger ads, I recommend using no more than two or three sentences. It’s enough to see the “sponsored” tag flash in your inbox – make it worthwhile for them

Here’s another tip. Space out the text – no block text – and get to the point: what are you offering and why should it appeal to them?

Have a kickass CTA

The call to action shouldn’t be setting up a meeting – it’s too offputting in this business. They don’t even know you. Get the prospect into the funnel and allow the trust to build over time.

Get a great lead magnet that nurtures their understanding and raises curiosity about what you do. Or invite them to a webinar you are having.

Use exclusions

These social media platforms are never 100% precise and I have noticed, unfortunately, that sometimes ads get served up to people that they shouldn’t. Use exclusions to make sure that certain groups are not getting your ads.

For example, you financial advisors should be excluding other financial professionals. You don’t need other financial advisors clicking on your ads so they can learn what you are doing. Even if they worked at a financial firm in the past there are probably less likely to want to learn about what you do. You also want to exclude vendors who just want to learn about you so they can sell something to you.

Sara’s upshot

Thanks for reading the blog and I hope I have inspired you financial advisors to kick ass with your social media advertising.

Join my membership and you’ll receive monthly videos and workshops in which I guide you through the nuances it takes to put all these tips into effect and get the results you want.

I also suggest that you at least start following my podcast here as financial advisor lead generation is the main focus.

Thanks for visiting me!

-Sara Grillo, CFA

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Understanding you better

The biggest mistake of my career – thinking early on that the key to success in business had to do more with academic knowledge than interpersonal skill.

It’s a trap many intellectually-focused people fall into. And it’s not like the educational institutions themselves don’t feed into this idea.

If I could go back I would have dedicated way more focus to learning to read people rather than learning to read books. It’s something I think I should always strive to get better at. It is something I am teaching my children.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have paid way more attention to what other people think about, what they think about me, how they behave, how they were going to respond to actions I took, and how my actions impact them.

Man and woman. Parent and child. Business and client. Misunderstandings happen all day long, all the time. It seems like we’re more likely to misunderstand each other than to understand each other.

My effort is to make the people listening to my podcast more successful. To all of you regularly listening or just tuning in for the first time, I appreciate you. I can try to guess about what I need to do to help you succeed, but chances are I would not be able to as well as if I hear it from you directly.

So I am asking you to tell me to the best of your ability what you feel you want to learn more about through my podcast shows to become more successful in your role as a financial advisor.

Please send me an email, a LinkedIn direct message, or complete this survey to help me to understand you better.

Or you could just drop me a link and say hello. That would be cool, too.

Thanks for listening.

-Sara Grillo, CFA