As a communications coach, I spend hours coaching sales professionals in their presentations and pitches. Regardless of the industry, country or organisation, the same three mistakes that can sabotage sales always pop up.

Here are three mistakes to avoid:

1. You talk more than you listen

When your well-oiled sales pitch focuses too much on your product or services, you lose the chance to truly understand what your client needs.

People buy with their emotions. To cash in on your clients’ emotions, start by listening and engaging them in a conversation. You should build sufficient rapport with your client and create either a knowledge or dream gap large enough to drive your client into buying from you.

The knowledge gap

When your client discovers there is something he doesn’t know or something that others know and he doesn’t, a knowledge gap is created. It’s like how cliffhangers in stories work. You generate interest, involve clients and you cause the pain of not knowing.

Entice your clients with tidbits of knowledge that they don’t have instead of telling them everything. This sets them thinking and hungering for more.

The Dream Gap

The dream gap is that between your current status (X) and desired state (Y), which is what you want to achieve. A skilful salesman is able to get his prospective client to “experience the gap” during the conversation.

The bigger the gap, the more emotional pain it will generate, and the more the client will be motivated to take the necessary action to achieve the desired state. And of course, the savvy salesman will position his product or service as the solution to bridging the gap.

2. You are not buyer-centric

One of the most important questions to ask yourself as a salesman is  “What’s in it for your buyers?”

What you think are benefits to your clients are really just features. For a benefit to be effective, it needs to either bring your client pleasure or take them away from pain.

Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and see things from his point of view by asking yourself: “So what?” “Who cares?” and “What’s in it for me?”

It also helps if you know what your client’s current status (X) and desired state (Y) are. The current status will give you clues to your client’s source of dissatisfaction while the desired state will reveal his wants.

When you can demonstrate how your client can move from X to Y with the help of your product orservice, the chances of them saying “yes” to you is significantly higher.

3. Your pitch is forgettable

Most sales pitches will be forgotten the minute you leave the room because: they don’t involve the buyer; the benefits are too abstract; and there is too much talk but too little show.

Provide tangible paybacks

Ensure that your benefits have concrete paybacks that your clients can really experience, for example, saving $2,000 on medical bills and beauty products every year when they exercise regularly with your product because it keeps them healthy and youthful-looking.

If you can get your clients to imagine the benefits they will get when they buy your product or service, all the better, because research shows that imagination has the power to make your sales pitch stick memorably.

Show more, tell less

Here are four ways you can help your client visualise your sales pitch and remember it:

1. Tell a story: Who doesn’t love a good story? If I can still remember Aesop’s Fables and its teachings of moral values to this day, think what an interesting tale can do for your sales.

2. Make an analogy: Tailor your pitch according to how your client’s mind works.

For example, if you are presenting to an audience of footballers, create an analogy that they will understand.

Bestselling author and management expert Stephen Covey looked at these dull statistics on organisational effectiveness:

* 37 per cent have a clear understanding of what the organisation is trying to achieve.

* Only 1 in 5 is enthusiastic about the goal.

* Only 20 per cent of employees trust their organisation.

He converted the numbers into an analogy anyone could easily understand:

* Four out of 11 players know where to score.

* Two out of 11 players care.

* All but two will compete against their own team.

3. Use a picture: A picture speaks a thousand words. Enough said.

4. Include props: Who made a more memorable sales pitch? A rumbling salesman or the late chief executive officer of Apple, Steve Jobs, who revealed the world’s thinnest notebook by taking it out of an office envelope?

Check your sales presentations for these three mistakes that could sabotage sales and practise the ways to counter them effectively. Be prepared for a significant increase in your sales.