As an active participant in a social media group for F&I managers, I often see posts from producers seeking advice on how to work with a tough customer who won’t budge on a service contract. Having been there before, I know what it’s like. Nothing is more frustrating than having a customer stonewall you when it’s clear he or she needs the protection.
Sure, I could dig into my tool box and offer a few tips on dealing with these types of customers, but I’m not sure it would help. That’s because there is a type of customer who is nearly impossible to close, regardless of how well you present your products.
Customers can be classified into the four following categories:
Type A: There’s nothing better for the ego than welcoming A into your office. They’re open to suggestion and they will buy almost anything you offer.
Type B: Much like their Type-A brethren, B is prone to buying something most of the time. However, B isn’t a follower and will need some persuasion before pulling the trigger.
Type C: Sharpen your wits, because C requires great product knowledge, closing skills and patience.
Type D: F&I managers beware, because D has done his homework and his guard is up from the first handshake. He’s confident, savvy and he wants a bargain. So no amount of cajoling or fancy word-tracks will work on D. D is also quick tempered, so don’t waste his time.
So when I see an F&I manager asking for advice on how to work with a tough customer, I know he or she is referring to Mr. D. He’ll tip you off with his total lack of interest in your sales process. In fact, a pitchy presentation will usually end in D slamming the door on the way out of your office. So make sure you’re providing solid information during your presentation.
The good news is you won’t see a lot of Type Ds, but they can really wreck your day when you do. See, D doesn’t respond well to manipulation and sales tactics. Being straightforward about the product’s benefits, how it can relieve financial stress and save him or her time is your best hope in getting through to D. But don’t be surprised if, despite your best efforts, you still get an adamant “No.”
And that’s why my advice to anyone dealing with Type D is to move on if he isn’t biting. See, the biggest mistake you can make is to believe that one more run with another fancy word-track will get the job done. All that does is irritate D even more. So don’t risk harming your CSI or ruining the dealership’s chances of getting a few referrals from D. Believe me, it’s not worth it. So the old adage, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still,” certainly applies to Type-D customers.
So how do you spot D before you make your presentation? Unless you possess the skills of Sigmund Freud, you probably won’t. Some of my interview-preaching colleagues believe that the right question can somehow magically reveal the customer’s true persona.
But here’s what my experience has taught me: About 10% to 15% of people are Type-A customers. Type-D customers make up about the same percentage, with the remaining 70% to 80% of customers you’ll meet being C and B customers. That’s why most training curriculums focus on C and B.
But remember, customers aren’t coming in with their personas tattooed on their foreheads. And you never know the type of customer the latest incentive is going to attract. That’s why the best thing you can do is be mentally prepared for whoever walks through your door.
Also keep in mind that most customers understand our products offer peace of mind — well, except for Mr. D. He’d rather take his chances. But our job is to help our customers visualize the need before we offer a solution. Then it becomes a matter of fitting the terms to the customer’s needs.
Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting you simply give up on a particular type of customer. No sir. I just wanted to bring to your attention the different types of customers you’re going to face and why it’s important that you be mentally prepared for whoever walks through your door. So don’t get frustrated, and remember that even the best of us don’t close every customer. Good luck and keep closing.
Marv Eleazer is the F&I director at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. Email him at [email protected]