Here are two more simple but potentially business-breaking mistakes that I’ve found to be common in the financial services industry. Are you following a similar path to self-destruction?

Neglect to qualify before the interview
It’s more difficult to sell life insurance to a single person who has no plans for marriage. It’s harder to sell annuities to an unemployed person than to someone who is thinking about retirement. As you make the phone call to book the appointment, make sure the prospect knows you are not willing to see anyone who can only fog a mirror. They must be people who can benefit from your unique expertise and be able to pay for it.

Keep chasing those who consistently stall you
As I travel around the world speaking, I usually ask how many attendees have a prospect right now who is wasting their time. Most raise their hands. Yet, wouldn’t it be better if prospects or customers said “no” in the beginning rather than waste so much of your time?

You know the economy is bad when even those people who never intended to pay aren’t even pretending to be buyers. Eighty percent of your time is spent chasing 20 percent of the business. Eighty percent of your sales come only after 20 percent of your selling efforts. Therefore you should give your prospects and customers a time limit to buy. But you should also keep in contact with them even if they say “no.” Take away the dreaded “I want to think about it” routine that costs you hundreds of dollars every time you hear it.

One of my coaching clients told me recently that he reviewed two years’ worth of those who stalled him. Only three called back asking to take the step to buy. My recommendation is that you start to employ the “up-front close” on every first interview:

“At the end of this process, we may decide to implement a financial plan to accomplish your goals. If this makes sense I hope you will say ‘yes.’ If it doesn’t, I hope you will tell me that also. But what I would rather you not do is to take a few weeks or longer to think about it, because that tells me you don’t have the information to make an informed decision. I would rather you just say ‘no.’ Is that fair?”

Using this “up-front close” in the beginning of the relationship will kill 80 percent of your stalls and persuade your prospects to become more honest with you instead of wasting your time and money.