Remember Susan and Michael from last week? Susan, with her sales knowledge and excellent customer service skills, is baffled as to why her colleague Michael is so much more successful. She wonders what is missing in her approach.

The key difference between Michael’s and Susan’s approach is Michael has trained himself to be an “active listener” using the TRIUMPHS model. Today, we will learn the remaining components of the model:

M: Monitor the tone and mannerisms of the prospective client. Body language is so important. Only a small percentage of what is “heard” by a listener are the actual words of the speaker. A person also communicates with his or her tone of voice, facial expressions, body position, etc. Watch for all of these indicators of your client’s mood and attitude. You might even wait for a pause and make an interpretation of what you are sensing.

P: Probe for information gently and with respect. Your job is to try to understand what your prospective or current clients’ needs are and how you can accommodate them. The only way to show people 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 product to solve your problems, what would you like it to do for you?”

H: Help your clients feel safe in the conversation. For major purchases, such as insurance policies, clients need to feel safe discussing their specific money issues. Before you gently probe about personal and family situations that affect their pocketbook, you must get clients to trust you first. This entails ensuring confidentiality and showing genuine empathy for their concerns.

S: Summarize. Show the client how intently you were listening to them by frequently summarizing what you just heard. This also helps you to focus and remember what the speaker is telling you. If you have hit the key points in your summary, the speaker feels validated and closer to you. If you missed key points he or she is trying to convey, the person can inform you about those at that time. Practice this with friends and family.

For more on sales success, see:

Ask questions to uncover clients’ perfect world

Shhhh, advisors: Understanding buying signals

The number one sales key: Listen to your clients

Psst! Have you checked it out yet? Vote on 2011′s Best Sales and Marketing Ideas!

Dr. Jack Singer is a practicing psychologist and author who has been speaking to and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, financial advisors, sales staffs and athletes for more than 30 years. He is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX Sports and other radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit www.funspeaker.com.