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The Big Difference: Statements vs. Objections

F&I trainer explains why handling statements like objections can put customers on the defensive and cost you the opportunity to illustrate the benefits of protection products.

March 2017, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by John Vecchioni

We can all agree that putting customers on the defensive will never advance your goal. Unfortunately, customer statements during the sale process are often misinterpreted as objections. And attempting to address customer statements as objections can lead to confusion, resulting in outright rejection of the offering.

See, statements are a sign that the customer requires additional information on how the product’s features can benefit him or her. So the next time a customer utters what sounds like an objection, take a step back and tell yourself, “I may have missed a valuable point where I could expand on how they benefit from the product. I might not have answered their questions satisfactorily. Whatever the reason, I need more customer input to effectively take on the statement and not handle it like it’s an objection.”

Remember, your customers will eventually become the spokesperson to others. So embrace the opportunity to ensure they fully understands the products they have chosen and recognize their true benefits. To do that, we need to have a clear understanding of what motivates your customers’ decisions so we can help them protect the vehicle from circumstance. This is why the need-discovery portion of your process is so critical, as it exposes the necessary facts to create impact points that match the product to the customer’s needs.

Don’t Assume
Objection-handling techniques are probably the most requested topics in training. Yes, we can learn rebuttals for a variety of objections. However, if we wrongly assume the true source of the objection, we address what we think the problem is and miss an opportunity to learn what’s really standing in the way. And in many cases, it’s not the objection we are hearing.

Of course, the best practice for handling an objection is being able to present product options that match your customers’ needs. That’s something we all strive for. And if we present products on the basis of what they have shared with us, we can attach the features and benefits to illustrate how they will benefit. If we fail to attach product to information, we will struggle to understand why they have apprehension in accepting the offering.

But, again, don’t be too quick to categorize any statement as an objection, as it may only be a veiled request for more clarity from you.

Remember, every customer will voluntarily provide you with information during the interview. However, not every producer asks the important follow-up questions. A good practice is to use trial close questions when interviewing and presenting. If my conversation with the customer during the discovery phase is forthright and my questions have been answered, I need to have some affirmation from the customer that he sees the same benefits I have described. In other words, we have to affirm that the customer sees how he will benefit.

Where’s the Value?
The most common reason customers do not purchase F&I products is they simply see no value in the offering. When that is the case, all the usual objections arise:

  • “Can I think about it?” 
  • “Do I have to decide now?” 
  • “My Uncle Joe is a mechanic.”
  • “I never buy those.”
  • “My insurance company has that.”
  • “I have the money to take care of repairs.”
  • “I’ll take my chances.”

Let’s first address “I need to think about it.” It certainly sounds like an objection. But if you repeat it back to your customer, you will be surprised by his (or her) response. You might learn the customer doesn’t know whether he should finance or just write a check. Wouldn’t that be a shock? We need to be clear on what the customer is saying before responding so we can comment effectively.

After getting some clarity, we are then more prepared to begin to reshape the statement. Here’s an example: “Of course you need to think about it. I wouldn’t expect you to do anything different. The fact that you would even take the time to give it thought suggests to me you see value in what we discussed.”

Now let’s restate that last statement as a question: “Can you share with me the value you see in the product?” See what we’ve done here? Rather than hunting for resistance to the offering by coming out and asking what’s standing in the way, we’ve given ourselves a chance to get more input before responding. By doing that, we can bring in our customer’s words from our earlier conversation. We can also confirm that we understand exactly what is in the way of a decision. I call this technique the “pirate” method or “RRR”: Repeat it, reshape it, and restate it.

By using this method, along with some trial close questions, you begin to engage in what I refer to as “logical conversational selling.” This method also allows you to review with the customer what you understood to be important to him or her.

It’s Only Logical
We can employ the pirate method when a customer says she (or he) has a mechanic in the family. First, try restating it as a question to get the customer to explain why she said that: “Your Uncle Joe is a mechanic?” She might say her uncle always maintains the family’s vehicles. But what if she says her uncle always recommends service contracts? Again, that would be a surprise. But if you had addressed this information as an objection, you would have lost Uncle Joe’s endorsement.

Now we need to begin to reshape the statement so we can gain further understanding. Here are some examples:

  • “I’m sure you trust your Uncle Joe with the responsibility of ensuring your vehicle is maintained and safe, isn’t that right?”
  • “Would you think your uncle would object to being paid his earned hourly rate?” 
  • “Would you have any objection to having factory parts used when repairing your vehicle?” 
  • “Can you share with me where you see the lack of value in the vehicle service contract?” 

To compare the merits of a service contract with the customer’s uncle is counterproductive. So the next time you hear what seems to be an objection, remember, it may only be a call for more valuable information. Give the customer the information and make clear how she (or he) will personally benefit from adding your product to the transaction. Remember, the facts are on your side. If you’re lucky, so is Uncle Joe.

John “The F&I Professor” Vecchioni serves as a trainer with American Financial & Automotive Services’ F&I University. Contact him at [email protected]

Comment

  1. 1. Bu [ March 08, 2017 @ 04:15AM ]

    As a consumer, I find it interesting the author left out the most obvious objection. Which is those F&I products cost too much for the value. For example, I am not going to pay up to $800 for GAP when I can purchase a similar product elsewhere for $180? Or, I am not going to pay up to $500 for window etching which I can easily do for myself for $20?

    And as a buyer, the very last thing I would do is engage in a discussion with an F&I manager answering questions such as "can you share with me where you see the lack of value in the vehicle service contract?" My, and suspect many others, response to such a question would be "what is it about no you do not understand."

    As a consumer, I will allow an F&I manager to present his or her menu, it is their job. However, after spending hours in the show room negotiating and waiting I can assure you many customers are not going to engage in a lengthy conversation with an F&I manager over the plethora of products he or she is attempting to sell us.

    My suggestion, put the F&I products on line for all customers to review. An price those products more in line with reality.

  2. 2. Eric Scott [ March 12, 2017 @ 08:13PM ]

    The previous answer nailed it. I've already had to deal with the drawn out bullshit of the car buying process, the last thing I need is another suit trying to sell me a VSC at a 500% markup. No means no. All your word tracks and RRR's are irrelevant. If F&I products weren't such blatant ripoffs we'd be FAR more likely to buy them. I just bought a Cadillac SRX and 4 years of the GM protection plan was over $5000. Not a whole lot of value there, is it? For 5 grand I will indeed take my chances. GAP? $799. No way. Maybe half that.

  3. 3. Nick Tubbs [ March 13, 2017 @ 02:12PM ]

    Great article. Happens everyday where we are. Someone who has never purchased a service contract before buys one and says wow, ive never been told all the benefits of how all this works. Simply because you see that they have a question or aren't understanding something. Repeating the question definitely helps both of you. You have to find the true objection. If your customer doesn't see the value it doesn't matter if the cost is $1 or $10,000.

    You also sound like the type of people who would complain when the manufacturer wont cover something due to improper maintennce or one of the many reasons they choose not to cover things under the "limited" warranty they provide. But when asked if you purchased one of those "blatant ripoff" products that would help you in the situation you would say "no and that the manufacturer should cover you anyway" because they should "have a quality product they should stand behind". While yes you can always find something cheaper somewhere else you can also find something cheaper of less quality. 1. Do your homework and ask questions. 2. Understand that ultimately these products are designed to make your ownership experience better and, 3. Profit is not a bad word, but I agree too much profit is bad for business.

  4. 4. Tub O' Lard [ March 14, 2017 @ 03:12PM ]

    The fact at hand is that most serious problems are going to happen after the service contract expires - either due to time or mileage. The longest contract term I've ever seen is 100,000 miles for a Hyundai - and that's because it's just wrap coverage - the manufacturer covers the power train for 100K miles. Most vehicles cap coverage at 70,000 miles. It's pretty much unanimously agreed to that vehicles these days will easily last 100,000 miles with minimal maintenance. I've heard the pitch about instrument clusters, blah, blah, blah - baloney. I've seen people pay upwards of $3,500 for a service contract - these are probably people who do not attempt to negotiate the price whatsoever. I'm a roll the dice kind of guy - I'll take my chances on future repairs and not prepay for a contract that I may never use.

  5. 5. Dustin Johnson [ April 06, 2017 @ 02:28PM ]

    Its funny how John sincerely took time out of his life and away from his family to right a very intriguing article, yet all this comments want to be negative. Not to mention how how dumb you are making yourself sound about not buying F&I product. There is no such thing as "similar products" seen in an above comment. You must be talking about how your insurance will include GAP in your monthly premium. Sounds like a big winner putting all your eggs in the basket of a company that never wants to give you what your car is worth anyways, think because you total it that they will at that time. I bet you're saying yes and laughing at me right now? Jokes on you because you're still going to have to pay your deductible on top of however much it is more monthly on your premium just to carry the service. Secondly the service contract, you want to complain that it does you no good to have the service contract. Is $3,500 a little much for a service contract, maybe, however that means the parts for the vehicle are that much more expensive.
    I'm willing to bet that none of you that are making negative comments about the service contract keep a savings account to just use on maintaining your car. And better yet when something serious went wrong on the car before the 100k mark you would be wondering how to pay for it without going into to debt. Is it always a win to purchase the service contract of course it is, you wouldn't go a day without auto insurance would you? "Well I drive a Hyundai and it goes 100k miles without having and engine troubles." Good for you, but I'm willing to lay money down on the line right now that the dealership you bought the car from a service department and that the service department profits more money than the sales department does. I wonder why that might be the case because cars break. Humans made the cars and we all know the mistakes that humans make.

  6. 6. Dustin Johnson [ April 06, 2017 @ 02:29PM ]

    The purpose of the extended service contract is to keep the customer safe from spending money on items covered in a comprehensive warranty set minus the powertrain. Have of you couldn't even tell me how many parts come together to make a car, and that if even 99.9% of all your cars parts were working properly over a 7 year period that leave 15 parts that you would still have to fix. The average cost of fixing each problem is $600 on a low end, (thankfully its not a computer problem that cost 1-3k alone), so do that math. Roughly 9k spent in 7 years to fix stuff and that's not even calculating that maintenance for the car. Lets think $3500 service contract 50 bucks a month or that possible $600 to thousands of dollars needed to replace something on top of that monthly payment that is already pushing your budget.
    Think again before you go in and try to critique this guys profession from the mind of someone that doesn't even know what they are talking about.
    Great Article John, definitely some tips I'd love to learn from you maybe we could chat up

  7. 7. F&I Dude [ April 10, 2017 @ 03:49PM ]

    Dustin - I see you had some free time on your hands since that fall on the stairs kept you out of the Masters. I think you meant "write a very intriguing article."

 

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