The most requested training advice asked of me is how to sell F&I products to a cash buyer. Anyone who has ever worked in the finance office understands the challenges here, but is it the customer who presents the challenge or our approach?

It’s almost an inherited philosophy passed down from producer to producer: People who pay cash for their automobile have no need for the products offered in the F&I office. But that’s simply not true. It just makes no sense that someone who can purchase an automobile with cash wouldn’t be a prime candidate for F&I protections.

Hasn’t the cash buyer already demonstrated that they are a qualified buyer? That means I don’t have to engage in negotiating with a lender for additional advances for my products. That means there is virtually nothing standing in the way of me presenting and closing the customer on the features and benefits of my products, right? Well, not exactly.

Finding the Trigger

We all have a trigger that is unique to us. As consumers, we have to see value in order to prudently make a buying decision. In this way, our cash customers are no different than we are. They need to see value and it has to make sense. But in many cases, we F&I producers get caught up in attempting to convince them to finance the purchase so we can introduce product in a smaller payment proportion amortized over a period of time. Why is that? If your customer doesn’t want auto payment obligations, then why do I want to convince them otherwise?

Remember, the first principle lesson we learn in sales is “to listen,” not “to confront.” So be careful how you frame your questions to the customer. Use a curious tone and remember that proving your point is not the objective here. What we need to do is help facilitate what the cash buyer is attempting to achieve, which is to not have a monthly payment.

There is another direction I can pursue, which is communicating to the customer the benefits of protecting his or her purchase with the products I have to offer. To do that, we must learn the events or circumstances that dictate when it’s time to replace the vehicle. So, let’s ask the question that needs to be asked: “What event or circumstance dictates your decision to replace your vehicle?”

From my experience, mileage and the threat of repairs are the reasons  most often cited. There are other reasons as well, and we need to hear those reasons when we ask that question so we can attach impact to the features and benefits of our products. Hey, we can’t influence a buying decision unless we understand how our customers view vehicle ownership.

Discovering the Benefit

Most of the F&I products we offer have usefulness to our customers; we just have to discover what they value in the product. So, if I have a cash customer with a trade, I would ask: “Did you do anything to prepare the trade before we looked at it?” Most people wash the exterior and clean the inside of their trade because they think they’ll positively impact the value of their trade. If that’s the case, do you think you could attach that answer to an appearance package?

How about a theft deterrent or recovery system to limit their exposure to identity theft? Hey, identity theft was, for the fifth consecutive year, the No. 1 consumer complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission in 2012, affecting one in five consumers. Now think about the personal information in our glove box, middle console or even under the seats. Do you think cash buyers care about protecting their identity?

Now, if your customer indicates that concerns for miles and maintenance have him or her trading out his or her vehicle every five years, then you have a strong presentation to share. For starters, your customer can keep the vehicle longer without the threat of costly mechanical repairs. Think about it this way: If the customer purchases a vehicle for $25,000, he or she would need to put $5,000 a year back into his or her account to replenish the money spent. But by offering a vehicle service contract, you have offered an option to the costly repairs and saved the customer $833 a year. Not only that, the $4,166 you saved the customer makes room for the VSC. To borrow an investment term, it’s called “dollar cost averaging.”

So the next time a cash customer comes into your finance office, embrace the opportunity, because not everybody has to finance in order to take advantage of the valuable protections you offer. Simply discover and share knowledge with the customer. That’s the only job we really have to do.

John H. Vecchioni serves as national sales director for United Car Care Inc. E-mail him at [email protected].