The author says F&I pros who move their target from sales to service will achieve both. - Photo by janssenkruseproductions via Getty Images

The author says F&I pros who move their target from sales to service will achieve both.

Photo by janssenkruseproductions via Getty Images

A master archer on his way home from a world-class competition stops in a small town, where he sees a barn with painted targets covering one side. A single arrow sticks out from the dead center of every target. He sees a young boy standing nearby and asks him who shot the arrows.

“It was me!” says the boy.

The archer hands the boy his bow and arrow and demands a demonstration. The boy takes aim and hits the side of the barn, far from any target. He then runs into the barn, emerging with a brush and a can of paint. The boy paints a solid circle around the arrow he has just shot, then two more circles to form a target.

“That’s how I do it!” he proudly exclaims.

In my early days in F&I, I would charge into each month with a misguided focus on selling as much product as I could and making as much profit as possible. Seems like a plan, right? But when I gave what I thought was my best effort all month long and the results did not rise to meet expectations, I started the blame game.

I painted circle after circle around my arrows — one for every reason why others were to blame for my misfortune. It took a collision with reality to get me to paint my target first. Here is what I learned:

1. People Trump Products.

Your primary goal is to learn as much about each customer as possible. Products are simply the tools we use to help each customer have the best ownership experience possible.

Customers can tell very quickly whether our focus is on achieving our objectives or helping them achieve theirs. A vehicle purchase is a big event, both financially and emotionally. Customers are looking for someone who will help them and show a genuine interest in their situation. When they do, they will open up and sell themselves. All we do is facilitate the process.

2. Trust Is King.

If two people want to do business, the details won’t get in the way. If one person doesn’t want to do business, they will let any detail get in the way. The importance of building trust and establishing credibility from the first engagement with your customer cannot be overstated.

Trust is the currency of today’s customer, and they spend it cautiously. Customers will decline products they know they need if they dislike or distrust the person offering them. They must buy you first!

Information is power. Listening to learn is what gets you the information you need. When you give information before you get it, you end up talking too much and listening too little. Make the customer comfortable with buying and giving themselves permission to buy now.

Once you master the ability to uncover needs, problems, concerns, and desires, you have everything you need to present your products, solutions, and answers powerfully.

Two ears, one mouth. Case closed!

3. We Don’t Sell Products; We Sell a Feeling.

What would it feel like to need a product and not have the coverage? Or, for an even more emotional appeal, what would it be like to have coverage and, when a problem arises have no concern as to how much it might cost?

When you connect the customer emotionally to a product and what it will do for them, price becomes secondary. The power that product has to help lower their ownership cost becomes the focus. Overcoming objections is easy when both you and the customer know why they need the product. Connecting them to the product emotionally seals the deal!

My F&I production skyrocketed once I moved my target from selling products to helping customers, and so will yours! Stop painting targets around excuses and start aiming for the bullseye: an open, honest conversation about the customer and their needs — not yours! Keep climbing!

About the author
Rick McCormick

Rick McCormick


Rick McCormick is the national account development manager for Reahard & Associates, which provides customized F&I training for dealerships throughout the U.S. and Canada. He has more than 20 years of auto retail and finance experience. Contact him at [email protected].

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