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Part 5: Negotiate the Plan

May 2004, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Jan Kelly - Also by this author

You've completed your presentation. You secured the "7 little yeses" — affirmations that the benefits of the protection you described are indeed the benefits the customer wants to protect her new acquisition. Now you ask, "Aren't these the types of benefits you want to protect your new vehicle?" And your customer replies, "What are my payments?"

That's when you use the 12 key points for negotiating the plan:

1. The seller, not the buyer, sets the price. If you presented the value of the policies, you don't have to hide the retail price you specify.

2. You have more than money to negotiate. You have benefits, terms, coverage and deductibles. Your policies can be tailored to meet almost any customer need.

3. Customers need to perceive themselves as victorious. In truly great negotiations, all parties win. Egos can be both fragile and fractious. Give your customers (and yourself) some wiggle room.

4. Isolate the customer's concern and make it specific. Then restate the concern as a positive requirement. Perhaps the customer plans to pay cash to avoid writing monthly checks. With the current low rates, does it make sense for customers to use their own money to pay for a vehicle when they can retain a cash cushion and make automatic payments?

5. Assume the power to ask. Many finance representatives do a great job of explaining the policies and then forget to ask for the business. Your customers must say yes; you can't assume they are going to buy. Enter every deal with a positive mental attitude, approach the presentation from the customer's point of view, and stay alert for buying signals. When you believe the customer's concerns are answered, ask for the business. Then be silent and wait for the customer's response.

6. Customers recall the last words spoken. Your last words are often the difference between success and a missed opportunity. Here's a short story to illustrate.

A customer was contemplating the need for credit insurance. The finance manager asked, "Would this payment be a burden to the family if your paycheck was lost due to illness, injury or in the event of your passing?" The customer looked at his wife and replied, "Why yes it would." The financial representative then asked, "Can you afford not to have this coverage?" The customers again looked at each other and, after what seemed like an eternity, declared that they wanted to include the credit insurance with the loan.

7. Remember that everything is relative. The money spent on an Acura is just as important as the money spent on a Honda or a Bentley. Regardless of financial demographics, customers want value for the dollars they spend. No one wants to spend money needlessly.

8. Establish the negotiation zone. This is the difference between the base payment and the payment with the protection the customer desires. Talk difference, and use the power of small numbers. Which sounds better—$40 a month or $9.30 a week? They're equal. Sowing smaller numbers will reap larger dividends.

9. Parlay the power of the pen. Present every solution for your customer in writing. People retain 55 percent of what they see, 38 percent of what they hear and 7 percent of actual facts. When you talk and write you can use 93 percent of a customer's concentration and cover a lot of material in a short amount of time.

10. Use your time wisely. The longer your process takes, the lower your CSI rating will probably be. The ideal time is 45 minutes from hello to thank you.

11. Practice the power of par. F&I is a sales position and every sales professional takes the time to learn about products and track productivity in order to build confidence in presentation skills. Scoring against par keeps you from floating on a sea of excuses and holds you accountable for your actions.

12. Apply the 300 percent rule of negotiation. Use 100 percent of the rules 100 percent of the time with 100 percent of your customers. You'll be ready for step six—closing the deal with a menu!

Jan Kelly is president of Kelly Enterprises. She is a sales trainer and consultant, convention speaker and frequent contributor to industry publications. For information about training opportunities call 800-336-4275 or visit the Kelly Enterprises Web site, www.JLKelly.com.

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