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What's In That No?

October 2006, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Marty Lisk - Also by this author

Many times after a stellar review of a customer’s options on the menu, their response is often, “I don’t need any of that.” Sound familiar? Unfortunately, it happens far too frequently. You have presented all your products on the menu and the customer is saying “No thanks, I don’t want anything.” What’s in that “No”? The menu should have worked, but the last few customers haven’t selected anything. You attended that training class and you did everything by the book. Where do you go from here? What do you say? Why doesn’t it work?

Well, don’t give up. From a sales perspective the first “No” you get means absolutely nothing! That “No” is simply the customer’s automatic defense mechanism. Just like when you go into a store and the clerk asks, “Can I help you?” Your automatic response is, “No thanks, I’m just looking.” That’s not true, you’re there to buy. You just don’t want to deal with a pushy sales clerk.

That first “No” might simply be because the customer has never bought the product before. Nobody likes change. “I’ve never bought it before, why should I buy it now?” It may be the customer is not familiar with the product(s) being offered. Nobody likes being asked to make a decision without having all the facts. It may be they have yet to realize they need a particular product, or they feel like you’re trying to “sell” them something. There are many reasons why the customer’s initial response is “No.” It’s an F&I professional’s job to overcome that “No” by demonstrating how that product will help them.

What Does That “No” Mean?

The key to overcoming “No” is discovering why the customer needs your products before presenting those products on a menu. When few, if any needs-discovery questions are asked, and a customer declines one or more products, the typical F&I manager launches into a features-advantages-benefits presentation. (Usually the product the Finance Manager makes the most money on, not necessarily the one the customer actually needs!) If the customer still declines to purchase that product, the feature-advantages-benefits are repeated again, as if the customer must not have heard them the first time. (Also known as “they must be deaf or stupid” approach.)

If the F&I manager is still not successful getting a customer to agree to purchase after this repeated review of the benefits, it’s time to go to plan B — lower the price, or “throw in” a second product to build value. Often, this is where the tired old car sales technique of “If I could, would you?” begins. After the second “No,” many F&I managers begin to negotiate the price or payment, in a desperate effort to at least sell something. And if they’re only going to sell one product, it’s going to be the product they make the most money on, or have the most room to negotiate. Hopefully, after much discussion and negotiation, an agreement is finally reached and the customer agrees to buy. Ah, success!

Or is it?

Start Out on the Right Foot

Most customers today need several, if not all, F&I products. Reducing the price to get them to buy one, or throwing in a second product for free, is hardly a success. The biggest problem most F&I managers have is getting past that initial rejection. It all begins in the initial greeting of the customer. Within the first few minutes of meeting you, that customer will decide if they like you, and if they are going to buy from you. An enthusiastic greeting is critical. Always greet the customer at the sales consultant’s desk. After all, that’s where they feel the most comfortable. It’s also where they have spent most of their time while at the dealership. Have a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

The next key to selling any product is making the customer realize that this product is important to them. For the customer, the purchase of any product must provide an obvious benefit or the elimination of risk. The benefit or elimination of risk must exceed the price of the product. In order to know what risk the customer has in their particular situation, an F&I manager must discover their unique needs. Before a customer will buy anything, they have to “see” how that product will help them by eliminating risk, or have some tangible benefits, based on their situation.

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