Susan has been doing well in her sales career for many years. She knows how to make cold calls,
follow up on leads and referrals, and provide excellent customer service. Yet she’s amazed at how much more successful her colleague Michael is. She puts much more time and effort into her work than it appears Michael does. So she wonders what is missing in her approach.

The key difference between Michael’s and Susan’s approach is the fact that Michael has trained himself to be an “active listener.” He uses the sales TRIUMPHS model to help him maximize his sales deals. The model works for virtually any product or service. And even when Michael’s not selling, it’s a powerful technique that helps him communicate effectively with his wife and teenage children.

The components of your sales T.R.I.U.M.P.H.S.

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

Listen to what the prospective customer is saying and don’t shuffle papers or start thinking about your response. Just listen. 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 what you asked.” Some prospective customers can be long-winded, nervously asking a lot of questions, especially with expensive products.

Cutting off a speaker may prevent you from developing the rapport you need to cultivate with the client. 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 customer is to make sure you are listening carefully. The optimal way to do that is to reflect or paraphrase what you heard him or her say before you comment on it. For example, “What I’m hearing is you are not certain our product will serve your needs.”

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

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

Understand the needs and goals of your client/customer.
If you are genuine and sell quality products that truly satisfy your customer’s needs and desires, the customer will trust you. That includes not selling a client the most expensive product, even if you believe it is not right for this particular individual. Nothing gains a client’s trust more than your being honest with him or her.

Monitor the tone and mannerisms of the prospective customer.
Body language is so important. Studies have indicated 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 customer’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 I am trying to force you to buy this product. Is that accurate, Alice?”

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

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 first must get clients to trust you. This entails ensuring confidentiality and showing genuine empathy for their concerns. If you expect them to share their biggest fears and insecurities, you must focus in on what they’re saying, be sensitive, and assure them that you will help them to meet their goals.

Summarize.
Want to show the speaker or client how intently you were listening to him or her? It’s easy by frequently summarizing what you just heard. This also helps you focus and remember what the speaker 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 he or she was trying to convey, the person can inform you about those at that 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.