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]