If your F&I performance is lagging, have you ever wondered why? Have you ever wondered what you are doing differently than the high performers? Do you use excuses to defend your less than stellar performance? If so, take a look at the following tips and if you aren’t practicing them, give them a try and watch your performance improve.
Many dealerships and most dealer groups have an F&I process. These processes weren’t pulled out of thin air. A lot of time and effort went into developing them. They were most likely tested before being launched and were selected because they worked. In some cases, successful processes were copied from other groups. The key to making any process successful is consistency. It must be used with 100% of the customers, 100% of the time. If you deviate from the process, alter it any way, or don’t use it 100% of the time, you can’t expect to achieve the results you are looking for.2. Interview the customer outside of your office
If your process doesn’t include a customer interview at the salesperson’s desk or wherever the customer made their buying decision, you are missing the opportunity to ask questions that are going to make the selling of products much easier. The interview should be in the customer’s comfort zone, not yours. It is where they made their buying decision. The interview also allows you to explain to the customer what your role is and what the next steps are in the buying process, keeping the customer informed. It allows you to ask the questions that will determine how your menu is set up and which products they may be interested in. Most importantly, the interview gives you the opportunity when you are overcoming an objection to say to the customer those three powerful words, “You told me."3. Build rapport and earn trust
All of you have heard of surveys that show the number one reason customers purchase vehicles is because of the salesperson. Well, it is no different when purchasing F&I products. Top F&I managers tell me establishing great rapport with customers and gaining their trust are huge factors in selling F&I products. How do you accomplish this? The interview is the perfect time to build rapport. Find something other than the vehicle purchase to talk about. It could be their children, their golf game, something you have in common, or just small talk. It shows you care about them and are not interested only in the sale. This tears down the wall the customer has put up based on past personal experience or horror stories they have heard about the F&I process. Building rapport relaxes the customer and puts them at ease.
How about earning trust? The easiest way is to be totally honest with the customer. The customer will recognize that honesty. They have to feel you have their best interest at heart. The last thing you want is for them to think you are being less than truthful. You want to build that rapport and trust before the customer enters your office.4. Don’t overload your menu with too many products
I understand you want your customer to see your full selection of protection products, but there is only so much a customer will tolerate before shutting you down. In my opinion, you should limit your menu to six products. This accomplishes three things:
- It is easier to become an expert on six products rather than ten. You want to make sure you know the products inside and out and can handle any objection thrown at you.
- You won’t overload your customers with too much information and confuse them.
- You will reduce the time the customer spends in the F&I office.
The menu is a presentation tool, not a sales tool. It allows you to get your products in front of the customer. The description of each product should be brief without going into too much detail. Anything more will be taken as a sales pitch and will put the customer on the defensive. It will also solicit questions from the customer, which will give you no choice but to “sell.” Remember, you want the customer to make a selection after the menu presentation, prior to beginning your sales process.
If you want to see your product index rise when a customer chooses the base payment, try selling an option rather than an individual product at that point. One technique would be to say, “Many customers find value in the Economy Option. What is it about the Economy Option that concerns you?” When you discover the objection, overcome it. If the objection is to a product, and you close the customer on that product, you sold the entire option.
If the objection is cost, or the payment is too high, try removing one product from the option, present the new payment, and sell the “value” of the remaining products.
If a customer selects an option, don’t settle for just those products. Focus on the product that was forfeited from the previous option and step up your customer to that option.6. Always create a need
Many finance managers begin their pitch of a product with features and benefits and facts about the product. They never create a need for the product in the customer’s mind. The customer has to understand there is a risk by not purchasing the product. They have to have a fear of loss if they don’t purchase the product. Let them know what that risk is and that they will have a financial responsibility.7. Know how to overcome objections
Each product has several objections that can be brought up by the customer. Some of them are common and you hear them frequently, and some are less common. You need to be prepared to counter ALL objections. If you are unable to confidently respond to and overcome an objection, you will most likely not close on the product. You can easily find the closes to these objections and using them avoids you from shooting from the hip and losing your credibility.8. Know and use the common steps to a sale
Many underperforming finance managers do not have a proven sales process that they use consistently. Basically, they are ad-libbing each time. That is setting yourself up for failure. Find a process and stick to it on each and every sale. If the process is a good one, you will see a spike in your numbers. The steps I believe in are very common ones: bring out the objection; create a need; explain the features and benefits of the product; show how they can satisfy the need; use a trial close; and then a final close.9. Use a T.O. from a teammate for one last attempt to sell a product
Whether you sell no products, or one or more products, always attempt to sell another by bringing a different face into the process. Excuse yourself and return with the finance director or another finance manager. Use this as an opportunity to build CSI and at the same time sell a product. Here is a sample word track you can use:
FM: “Hi, I’m David. I am one of the managers here and I want to congratulate you on your purchase and make sure you are completely satisfied. Is John taking good care of you?”
Customer: “Yes, he is.”
FM: “Glad to hear that.”
(Look over some of the paperwork and say:)
FM: “I notice you didn’t take advantage of the vehicle service contract. What is your concern?”
Find out the objection and overcome it. You will be surprised at the amount of success you will have with this technique.10. Understand how a customer decides to make a purchase
You have all heard the saying, “A customer buys when the value exceeds the cost.” You build the value by explaining the features and benefits of the product. But, there are other factors that come into play when making their decision. One of them is “risk vs reward.” In tip #6, I spoke about the importance of creating a need in which the customer understands there is a risk involved by not purchasing the product. That acknowledgement alone isn’t enough for the customer to buy. The customer will weigh the risk against the reward. Here is what I mean:
If you drive only 5,000 miles per year, and are going to keep the car for two years, and there is a three-year factory warranty, there is no risk from mechanical breakdowns because they are covered under the factory warranty. It would be very difficult justifying the purchase of a vehicle service contract (VSC).
However, if you drive 15,000 miles per year, have a three-year, 36-month factory warranty, and are keeping the car for six years, there is plenty of risk. You will be out of the factory warranty in about 2 ½ years and will have to pay for any mechanical breakdowns, rental cars, and towing for the next 3 ½ years. Now you have a huge risk. Let’s look at the reward. If you purchase a VSC that has a $3,000 deductible, that isn’t much of a reward and you would probably take your chances. However, if the deductible is only $100, the reward becomes very significant. With a huge risk and a big reward, the customer is more likely to purchase the product. The customer will see that the value is greater than the cost.
These tips are not new and I am not re-inventing the wheel. The problem is that these techniques are not being used by underperformers, who are not being trained properly. There is a serious lack of accountability to these techniques.
Use these tips consistently and watch your performance improve. Good luck selling!
Disclaimer: "The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not the LoJack corporation. The article does not advertise LoJack products and there are no actual or inferred endorsement by LoJack of the writer’s opinion.”