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3 Ways to Control Purchase Decisions

July 2007, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Tim Shea - Also by this author

Common sense tells us that shooting ourselves in the foot is not a good idea. But how many times do we do that anyway? It happens when we fail to plan properly or don’t plan at all. It happens when we fail to attend to fundamentals. I’d like to investigate a number of ways we often shoot ourselves in the foot in nonprime auto sales. If you fail to plan or control certain areas of the nonprime sales process, getting shot in the foot is no one’s fault but your own.

Your planning should always include evaluation and reinforcement of nonprime fundamentals. Why? Fundamentals work. Don’t mistake fundamentals with “basic” information. Fundamentals ensure you have a foundation on which to build success. One such fundamental includes: “Properly managed, nonprime customers are sold completely backward from prime customers.” The message there is that you must first take control of the sales process. Control means that you direct the timing and choice of product decisions. When it is time to talk about product decisions, it is critical that you ask product questions properly. This month, we are going to talk about how to do that without shooting yourself in the foot.

1. Managing Customer Expectations

I believe the most important factor in controlling the product decision process is managing customer expectations. If a customer’s final expectations for a product or payment are not met, it is unlikely that he or she is going to buy a vehicle from you. Some customers begin with reasonable expectations. However, it can seem at times that the majority come with unrealistic ones. Whatever their expectations, it is your responsibility to wisely lead your customers through the process. That means you help customers understand the realities of their current credit condition.

2. Selling the Credit Program

Begin by selling the credit program. Make sure they understand the concept of rebuilding credit, their need to do so and how your expertise can help. Don’t shortchange this process. Remember, nonprime auto sales begin with originating loans that re-establish credit. Then it becomes about selling vehicles.

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