Everybody is looking for the magic formula to turning a customer’s “No” into a “Yes” in less than 60 seconds. But there is no formula, and no one is naturally gifted at overcoming objections. In fact, I consistently see F&I managers with less charisma and natural ability surpass those who seem gifted. Just like in poker, just because someone is dealt a great hand in life doesn’t mean they are going to play it well.
Top performers succeed because they do the right things and do them consistently. Let’s take a look at how true F&I professionals handle their customers’ objections and have fun doing it.
Step 1: Stop Being Like Everyone Else.
As soon as your customer realizes you are not like the other F&I managers he or she has encountered, your credibility goes up. Most customers have encountered F&I managers who ask the same questions, use the same pressure techniques, and do most of the talking. It makes them feel uncomfortable and defensive. The result is you sell fewer products and they feel like nothing has changed since the last time they bought a car.
Be creative. Focus on providing an interactive process. Utilize creative and probing questions. Most importantly, work on getting the customer to do most of the talking.
Listen, it’s our job to help our customers see their need for a product. And until we do, we have no right to push them to do anything other than say “No.” Focusing on helping customers self-discover their need for products and making their decision to buy an easy and natural progression in the conversation makes you different — and successful.
Step 2: Find the Fit to Get Them to Commit.
I can’t count how many times I have heard the following: “People buy from people they like.” While the saying has merit, the reality is people buy from people they trust and respect. And nothing builds trust and respect more effectively than an F&I manager who is focused on discovering why the person in front of him or her needs some or all the products offered. Does the product fit the need? If it doesn’t fit, they will not commit.
You should view the needs-discovery process the same way a doctor asks probing questions to uncover symptoms for which he or she can prescribe a solution. Always diagnose before you prescribe. To do otherwise is malpractice.
You should never move a customer to buy a product he or she doesn’t need. It’s much easier to move someone to buy if the product fits their situation. Remember, people and their needs should always trump products. In other words, the focus should not be “I have products. How can I sell them to my customers?” It should be “I have customers. How will my products help them?” And when you find the right fit, they will commit.
Step 3: Follow the 70/30 Rule.
Customers should be talking 70% of the time. This makes their time in your office a dialogue, not a monologue. I conduct and record roleplaying exercises every month. Before reviewing the tape, I always ask the F&I manager what percentage of the time he or she spoke vs. me, the customer. Their response is usually only partly correct.
In most cases, the F&I manager is speaking 70% to 90% of the time, which is a liability in the F&I office. Most of us were moved to the F&I position because we are good at connecting with people. In the F&I office, we want to maintain that ability while letting our customers do the talking.
An effective way to overcome objections is using what you have learned from the customer to help them see why the best answer may not be “No,” especially after “what you told me earlier.” The more “You told me earlier” facts you gather before the menu is presented, the more products you will sell after they say “No.” The conversation to move a customer from “No” to “Yes” should never break down to a feature benefit monologue that makes a customer feel like his or her judgment is being questioned. It should always move to why in the customer’s situation the product is critical.
A talking customer is your chance to actively listen. Customers expect to endure listening to a sales pitch. When they encounter the opposite, they start talking. And one of the most powerful things takes place: They start thinking out loud. Their situation becomes clearer to you and to them. If you can get customers to think out loud, you have cracked the code to overcome many objections. And you will have fun doing it. Just remember this mantra: “Your numbers will make you proud when the customer is thinking out loud.”
Step 4: Make It Visual and Interactive.
Now that you’ve gotten your customer to open up and even think out loud, how do you move them to buy? First, any effort to “talk” the customer into buying will only see limited success. More than 65% of communication is visual. You must move from a verbal effort to a visual one.
See, our natural tendency at this point is to share everything we know about the features and benefits of a particular product. Then we’re shocked when the customer says “No” once again. The customer didn’t say “No” because we are not good at talking about a product. The problem is the customer didn’t connect with the information shared. That’s what the visual effort does; it makes a much deeper connection and sets us up to move the customer to buy.
A hand-drawn visual combined with a verbal effort makes that attempt even more effective. And handing a customer an actual part of a vehicle that has failed and sharing the story of what happened and how much it cost to replace is much more effective than telling that story without the part.
When you provide a visual effort, it creates a mental picture in the mind of the customer, allowing him or her to see themselves needing or using the product. That mental picture becomes more powerful than the visual you provided. But that progression wouldn’t have happened if not for the visual process you started with when you set out to overcome the customer’s objection.
Overcoming customer objections is a normal part of the process with customers. They have questions, concerns, and, in most cases, past experiences that were not favorable. The effort to overcome them must be intentional, visual, and interactive. When this happens, you overcome objections more consistently. It even becomes fun when you see the lightbulb come on and your customers make the transition from “No” to “Yes.” Now everyone wins. The customer gets the coverage he or she needs, and you get the sale. Keep selling.
Rick McCormick is the national account development manager for Reahard & Associates Inc., an F&I training company providing classes, workshops, in-dealership, and online training. Email him at [email protected].