Consumers might be more conservative these days, but selling products in today’s down economy isn’t impossible. Here’s a seven-step process you can follow to prevent customer objections and successfully close deals.
Setting the Stage With Education
In order to sell customers on the value of your F&I products, you need to sell your salespeople on their value. Explain to them why you sell these products and how they benefit individual departments in the dealership. Emphasize that products create customer loyalty and attract business for the service department.
To accomplish this you first need to explain what products you sell, what they do, and how they are valuable to customers. Remember, the best way to lower your customer’s guard is to make salespeople your advocates at the beginning of the sales process. >
The F&I experience for the customer should not begin in the box. The F&I experience should begin at your salesperson’s desk. Remember, the customer probably spends the most amount of time — about one to five hours — in the sales department. This means the salesperson’s desk is where the customer feels most comfortable, and it’s where the customer is the most excited about the car-buying experience. So take the time to introduce yourself to the customer or have the salesperson introduce you. Give the customer steady eye contact and a firm handshake. It’s not rocket science, but it gives the customer a good impression of you.
Once you’re done with the formalities, get to business and tell the customer what you intend to do for him or her. Explain to the customer how you will handle the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) paperwork, and meet his or her financing needs. Remember to keep the process moving along quickly and efficiently.
Review Customer Information
Once you’ve been introduced to the customer, get down to business and review his or her paperwork to ensure accuracy. You want to make sure you have correct information on the buyer’s order, credit application and credit bureau. If you have any problems with the figures and paperwork, resolve them with the customer before you continue with the F&I process.
When reviewing the paperwork don’t forget to work on building rapport with the customer. You can ask the customer a few questions about his or her driving habits and automotive needs. This information will tell you what’s important to the customer and help you tailor a menu to meet his or her needs. This interview process also helps the customer get comfortable with your department, which makes for a smoother transition from sales to F&I.
Prepare a Tailored Menu
Before assembling your menu, give the customer an estimated timeframe. This allows the customer to know how long the process will take. You should also keep the customer occupied while you prepare his or her menu. The customer will be less anxious about the F&I process if he or she is engaged elsewhere in the dealership.
For example, you can offer your customer drinks, cookies or a TV to watch in a separate room. You can also arrange for the customer to go on a service walk and set up the first oil change appointment. While in the service department, let the customer meet the service staff, such as your cashier and service writers. A service walk is also an opportunity for you to build value in the service department, the backbone of your dealership. It also ensures you’ll get repeat business from the customer. This activity is a valuable use of the customer’s time, and a better option than sending the customer off to lunch while you prepare the menu.
Retrieve Your Customer
You need to retrieve the customer once the menu is prepared. In an ideal situation you’ll be able to easily find the customer and escort him or her into your office. It’s not easy to do this in the real world, but it’s important that you try. Do not have the customer dumped off to you by a salesperson, and don’t have the customer paged through your dealership’s intercom system.
The benefit of retrieving your customer is you’re never caught off guard or in the middle of rehashing another deal. Having another customer’s paperwork on your desk severely compromises the privacy of the other customer’s information. This also forces you to stop working on one deal.
When you are prepared and you go out and retrieve the customer, offer him or her refreshments and inquire about the service walk. The goal is to restart your conversation with the customer and move quickly back into the F&I process. Customers don’t expect you to be fast, but they do expect you to be efficient with their time.
Check Your Numbers and Present the Menu
Before you jump into your menu presentation, first review the BMV forms with the customer. Reevaluate the agreed upon figures (payment, term and APR) and let the customer know if any corrections were made. Make sure to also restate the figures to the customer. Assure the customer that he or she can drive home for the agreed-upon payment with approved credit. You can also advise your customer if there are better financing options for his or her situation.
You should immediately jump into the menu presentation once you have reviewed the BMV forms and figures with the customer. The menu should be tailored to meet the customer’s driving habits and needs. Focus on presenting the customer with financing options and products instead of selling them.
Close the Deal
At the end of your presentation, be direct with your customer and ask for a decision. However, do not use hard-sell techniques or threaten the customer for an answer you want. Some will buy and some won’t, but who cares? Move on to the next customer. Put forth your best effort, use your best wordtracks and present all of your products. Your mission is to deliver an effective presentation and prevent customer objections altogether. Remember, the goal is to generate F&I revenue and build customer loyalty toward the dealership.
Matt Hash is a dealership training manager for GMAC Insurance. He presented his “The Three Newest, Most Effective Closes” workshop at this year’s F&I Conference and Expo. He can be reached at [email protected].