There is one truth I’ve learned in my more than 25 years in the box: Customers have selective hearing. That’s why it’s up to you to make certain your customers fully comprehend what’s being discussed.
Keep that in mind the next time you hear, “I don’t need any of that stuff.” For the untrained, those words can stop you dead in your tracks. But true F&I pros know that’s simply a programmed response. Just think about how much customers are bombarded with extra coverage offers from big-box retailers like Best Buy and Home Depot, and even online merchants like Amazon.com. They’ve become numb to such offers.
Heck, how many times have you heard a customer say, “I bought that in the past and never used it,” or “It didn’t cover the problems I had, so it’s a waste of money”? My personal favorite is, “Consumer Reports says to never buy that stuff and to self-insure, which is what I’ve decided to do.” It’s as if every customer was taught the same snappy responses.
The problem with accepting those responses is you never smoke out the true objection. So shred away that fear of asking again, and I promise you’ll quickly discover that most customers don’t have a good reason for saying “No.”
Take this recent customer. He was buying a new Ford Expedition, and Ford Credit’s zero percent financing offer was the hook that brought him in. “We’ve been admiring this truck for awhile but knew we couldn’t afford it,” the customer offered. “Then, today, we saw zero percent written on the window and decided to take a closer look.”
The customer declined everything I presented without a comment or reason. That didn’t stop me from pressing on, but the customer wouldn’t budge. I decided to center my next attempt on what he told me earlier — that he was stretching to afford the vehicle and that no finance charges was making his decision easier. So I used that to remind him that the products would also be cheaper to buy since he was taking advantage of Ford Credit’s zero percent financing offer. I got him to think for a second, but the answer was still “No.”
Because he again didn’t offer a reason for his objection, I knew he was still on auto response. So I slowed things down and moved on to GAP. I started by pointing out he was financing with no money down, plus taxes of $4,000. I could tell I barely got his attention.
So I went back to the service contract. He finally spoke after I gave him some additional information. “I think you’ve got me convinced about the GAP, but I’m still not sure about the service contract,” he said. “I bought them in the past from other dealers and the coverage wasn’t what was promised. So I’m not keen on this idea.”
And just like that, his true objection was revealed.
I talked about the dealership’s involvement in the community and our reputation for always keeping our word. I also reminded him that he was, in fact, a repeat customer. Assuring him that I wouldn’t take a chance of harming that reputation by knowingly offering him a product that wouldn’t perform as promised, I pressed one more time.
He asked for more information before he gave his final “No.” This time, however, he said he’d just pay cash for the protection when the factory warranty ran out. I told him that in addition to paying cash for the protection, he’d have to pay the product’s annual price increase. I finished by stressing why it was simply better to buy today. He immediately gave me a thumbs up and said, “That works for me!”
For those of you counting, that was five “No”s.
Hey, no customer likes to be grilled. That’s why it’s vitally important you know how to regroup, collect your thoughts, and are able to quickly identify a new angle on which to center your approach. And remember, if the customer senses it’s all about you rather than them, you’re done. So be careful, because CSI will suffer if you’re not. Good luck and keep closing.
Marv Eleazer is the F&I director at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. Email him at [email protected].