In 1974, McDonalds released a new, signature menu item with, "two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun." Shortly after that commercial's release, their nemesis, Jack in the Box, unveiled the "Bonus Jack," a triple-decker cheeseburger slathered with "secret sauce." Since then, two things have continued to happen ... When you hear it, the jingle gets stuck in your head (yeah, you are thinking about it now, sorry); and F&I professionals have been looking for the “secret sauce” of objection handling.
In today’s market, F&I processes start before the F&I professional enters the picture.
For objection handling, secret sauce is that special technique, the one thing you can say or do that instantly changes a “no” to a “yes.”
Below is a short list of some of the proven, effective objection handling techniques that are used in the marketplace, but which is the secret sauce?
- Smartphone Case Comparison
- Hundred Million Lines of Code
- Factory Knows Best
- NASCAR Comparison
- Remove the Warranty
- Choose Warranty Placement First or Last 36-Months
- The 99.9%
- Insurance T-bar Comparison
- Reduce to the Ridiculous
- Fixed vs. Variable
- The Unexpected Call
- Stapler Close
Did you decide? The fact is, all of these can be effective depending on customer type, product sold, and circumstances surrounding the purchase. However, not one of these alone is the secret sauce; unfortunately, there is no secret sauce.
Addressing customer concerns (aka, objection handling) is not one-size-fits-all. In fact, objections and their sources are more complicated than that, and so is how we deal with them.
Consider this, as an F&I professional, you will encounter two main types of objections: direct and indirect. You normally identify the objection using the terms broad and specific, with price and value often the sources of these objections. But for objection handling purposes, it is helpful to use direct and indirect.
This is the source we pay the most attention to that drives our search for the perfect technique. It comes from the customer directly and is a response to product presentation and asking them to buy. This happens when you are present, so it can easily be identified and you can generally name or identify the objection. For example:
- “It’s a good vehicle.”
- “Costs too much.”
- “Bought one and never used it.”
- “Need to think about it.”
- “My uncle is a mechanic.”
With direct objections, use one of the techniques listed above. They can all be used to address customer concerns effectively. The question with direct objections is — how deep is your bench. As previously mentioned, it is not one-size-fits-all. The key to addressing direct objections is having more than one way to handle any concern. It is also important to make the conversation relatable, not only to the product you are selling, but to the individual sitting across from you.
So, how many of the techniques listed above are you confident in using? If your answer is only one or two, find a YouTube channel that teaches F&I objection handling methods or visit the F&I and Showroom video section and find a few to add to your tool belt. I recommend ones that deal with technology as they seem to resonate with a greater number of customers due to the advancement of technology in today’s vehicles. Let’s face it, smart vehicles are really, really smart, and it takes a lot of tech and code to make them work.
This is the source that we all have but, we may not consider to be part of our objection-handling process. Of the two types of objections, indirect may be the most challenging. These objections are often rooted in issues in the sales process itself.
In today’s market, F&I processes start before the F&I professional enters the picture. Customers are self-educating via web searches, F&I duties have been divided between the sales desk and F&I department, and digital retailing has entered the scene. With all this evolution, F&I saboteurs have found their way into our sales processes.
These saboteurs are largely a result of the actions, or inactions, within the sales process itself. To address the indirect objections:
- Start by reverse engineering your sales process. Look at it from the result and then back into the details that transpire from signing the contract backwards to what they might see on your website before they arrive.
- Identify the contributing factors that lead to objections.
- Make the appropriate process adjustments or add process assistance where needed.
Here are just a few saboteurs to look for in your process:
- Transition time to the F&I office: This transition may be the largest time thief in the process, and time is enemy number one on the indirect objection side. In fact, time to many is the new currency, and what people dislike the most is wasting it. So mitigate the “I’m in a hurry” objection:
- Get out of the office and get involved with the deal as soon as possible. This might mean taking the final turn or bringing them into the office while you load the deal.
- Provide a realistic time estimate in the introduction step to set the proper expectation and identify the time concern early.
- Have the sales team start the delivery process while waiting to get in your office: sync a phone, go over the books, download apps, etc.
- Implement a tour of the facility highlighting the number of bays, the cleanliness of the bays, and the technicians themselves.
- Improper product pre-exposure: Sometimes we have that veteran that has great rapport and control of their customers; they believe in the product so most of their customers are already sold on it and you just have to go over the details. If you have that person, awesome. However, in most cases, do not have the sales team sell, or attempt to sell, products in advance. They are not the experts and can create the “I already told Johnny I don’t want anything” objection. Instead, have them properly create needs awareness through process assistance along the way:
- Walkarounds that highlight technology.
- Gather important information about the customers intended use.
- Determine reasons they chose the vehicle (“SETUPS”: Safety, Economy, Technology, Utility, Performance, Style) and who the vehicle is for.
- Ask about two original keys on the trade.
- Find out if the trade has the original windshield.
- Salespeople’s language when attempting the finance conversion: With the number of cash transactions on the rise, the sales team may be trying to help by converting the customer to an in-house source. The go-to language is “meet or beat.” This in itself can cause a rate objection. The customer will rarely hear “meet” and will instead focus on “beat.” Teach the team to sell the opportunity not close them on the rate. An alternate like, “As long as the rate is competitive, you would consider our sources, right?” is effective.
- Too many products offered: To accommodate customer needs, dealerships offer a plethora of protective products. However, sometimes less is more. When you have too many products on a menu, the time it takes to present all those products becomes an objection itself. So often you feel forced to “speed date” through product presentation. Consider selecting between 6-8 products to present. Better to be great at discussing a few than only good at discussing many.
So in conclusion, you have taken the first step toward successful objection handling and that is knowing there is no secret sauce. Have a deep bench to address the direct and implement practices that can be utilized on the indirect. This can lead you to the easiest objection to overcome: the one that never happens!
Dwayne Wiggins is American Financial & Automotive Services, Inc.’s F&I University development manager.