Susan is a life insurance advisor. She understands how to make cold calls, how to follow up on leads and referrals and how to offer excellent customer service. Yet, she’s amazed at how much more successful her colleague, Michael, is, when she puts much more time and sweat into her work than Michael seems to do. She wonders what is missing in her approach.

The key difference between Michael and Susan’s approaches is the fact that Michael has trained himself to be an “active listener.” He uses the T.R.I.U.M.P.H.S. active listening model to not only to help him maximize his sales deals, but it is a powerful technique that helps him communicate effectively with his wife and teenagers as well.

Here are the components of your sales TRIUMPHS:

Treat your client with respect and value. Developing rapport with the client is a crucial first step. Smile, position yourself at the same level (sitting or standing, depending on what the client is doing), and slightly lean toward the client, maintaining eye contact. Make sure your cell phone is on silent and you can give undivided attention to the client.

Listen to what the prospect is saying, don’t shuffle papers or start thinking about your response. Just listen to him or her. Regardless of what the person asks, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to answer immediately. It’s OK to say, “That’s a great question. Give me a day or so to research our products to find the one that precisely addresses your question.” Clients can be long-winded, nervously asking a lot of questions. Cutting off a speaker may lose you the rapport you need to develop. Always give the speaker the courtesy of finishing a point before you interject yours. Again, take notes so you won’t forget what you wanted to say.

Reflect the meaning of what your client is telling you before you actually respond. The best way to understand your prospective client is to make sure you are listening carefully and the best way to do that is to reflect or paraphrase what you heard him or her say before you comment on it. An example is, “What I’m hearing is that you want your family to be taken care of if you pass on within the next 15 years.”

I statements” are powerful. As you paraphrase and reflect back what the client is saying, you can use “I statements,” which are very powerful. For example, “I am getting the feeling that you are uncomfortable with this product and would like some other options.” For you to start with “You” would be much more threatening for the client: “You don’t like this product?”

It is important to realize that by understanding what the listener is saying, doesn’t mean necessarily agreeing with him or her. You are simply showing that you are hearing the prospect’s concerns. Example: “I hear your concerns because of your last experience with an insurance advisor. Let me get the information you will need to make you feel better about this.” Always acknowledge the speaker and his or her position before voicing your opinion.

Understand the needs and goals of your client. If you are genuine and sell products that will truly satisfy your clients’ needs and desires, they will trust you. That includes not selling them the most expensive product if you believe it is not right for them. Nothing gains their trust more than you being honest with them. (“Better service equals better referrals“)

Monitor the tone and mannerisms of the client. Body language is so important that studies point out that only a small percentage of what is “heard” by a listener are the words of the speaker. Most of what is “heard” by the listener is tone of voice, smiling, facial expressions, vocal inflections, etc. Watch for all of these indices of your client’s mood and attitude. You might even wait for a pause and make an interpretation of what you are sensing. An example is: “I am feeling as if you believe that I am trying to force you to buy this product. Is that what’s going on in your head?”

Probe gently and with respect. Your job is to try to understand what your client or needs and how you can accommodate those needs. The only way to show clients that you have exactly the product to satisfy those needs is to ask gentle questions about their goals and hopes (related to your product). An example is: “If you could describe the ideal financial situation for your family once you pass on, please tell me what you envision.”

Help your client feel safe in the conversation. Gently probing about personal and family situations that affect their product purchase requires them being able to trust you. This entails ensuring confidentiality and showing genuine concern for their needs. If you expect them to share their biggest fears and insecurities, you must focus in on what they’re saying, be sensitive and give them optimism that you will help them in their meet their goals.

Summarize. You’d be amazed at how much you show the speaker you are listening by frequently summarizing what you just heard. This will also help you to focus and remember what the client is telling you. If you have hit the key points in your summary, the speaker will feel validated and closer to you. If you missed key points that the prospect is trying to convey, he or she can inform you about that at this time. Practice this with friends and family. It’s easy to get the hang of it and it really works!

Sticking to this sales TRIUMPHS model will surely bring you your share of triumphs over your competition!

Jack Singer, Ph.D., is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. Dr. Singer has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEOs and elite athletes for 34 years. He is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit www.drjacksinger.com or call (800) 497-9880.

More from Jack Singer: “4 ways to become an “inner winner” and achieve sales success