When attempting to sell the invisible (intangible products or services), it’s important to recognize you’re not selling something to someone, you’re doing something for and with someone. That’s right, you’re doing something for and with someone by offering them a solution to something that may or may not happen to them.
Understandably, the best way to peak a customer’s interest and consideration when serving up the intangible is to help them discover a need — a need they may have had in the past or a need they feel they may have in the future. It’s also important to have them acknowledge they want the products but don’t want them enough to spend the extra money.
It’s simply a case of the customer not seeing enough value rather than no value at all. You know the old saying: “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.”
Selling the invisible is in no way like selling an automobile, which stimulates the senses such as sight, sound, feel; provides instant gratification; and satisfies a desire, want, or need. The sale of financial services products in general offer nothing on the onset.
The overwhelming difference is tangible products are hard goods and have many physical characteristics, while intangible products have no physical features. Therefore, attempting to sell tangible products such an automobile is much different than “selling the invisible” — intangible products such as those available in the financial services department. Remember, financial services products provide solutions to problems your customers may or may not face down the road.
Persuading a customer to purchase such an item demands a different approach, as well as unique persuasive tools, techniques, and tactics. There are many benefits and/or paybacks that intangibles can provide your customer, such as peace of mind, convenience, efficiency, a hedge on inflation, relief from unexpected repairs, and increased resale value to name a few. Moving your customers to recognize these benefits takes exposing a need as well as determining the why they should buy.
While there are those customers who desire to have various F&I offerings it can be said that most customers don’t feel a need for them as they don’t anticipate having to use them. That said, I believe that every customer truly wants the products they just don’t see enough value in them to spend the extra money. Hence, exposing a need and the “why” they should buy will build the value of each product in your menu/option disclosure presentation. That added value will deliver huge dividends.
There are a variety of ways to expose a need and determine the “why buy” with each customer. You should start with a briefing from the sales associate or sales manager prior to making an introduction to the customer. Get information about the customer’s trade-in. Ask them about the trade-ins condition. Even better, if you have the time, go look at the trade-in and see for yourself.
Ask the sales associate if the customers had purchased products such as paint and fabric protection, GAP, or a vehicle service contract in the past; what type of driving do they do; had they had the windshield or tires replaced; and what type of maintenance did they perform on their trade. Asking your sales staff those types of questions each time you get a deal will get them used to consistently finding out the information.
How about reviewing the CarFax report prior to visiting with or speaking to a customer? The CarFax report exposes the customer’s past and will often uncover a need or “why buy.”
As soon as possible, follow through with a face-to-face introduction with the customer at the dealership, or over the phone, if the deal was done through an offsite source such as the phone or Internet.
Caution: Don’t neglect the pre-ordered vehicle that we have come accustomed to during the current low inventory selling environment. Let’s face it, a lot can happen while a customer waits for their ordered vehicle to arrive at the dealership.
Formulating a plan of action with each customer as soon as possible changes the dynamics of the buyer/seller relationship and puts you in a much better position to give advice and make recommendations pertaining to direct or indirect lending sources and ownership or lease enhancements. Form a connection with your customer by stating who you are what you do, how you do it and set realistic expectation with them. It’s during that initial contact with a customer an F&I manger can begin to expose the need and why buy.
Think about the type of dialog you can open with customers after gathering information from the sales associate or sales manager about the deal, and looking at the trade and CarFax, prior to making your menu/option disclosure presentation.
Maybe the customer’s trade was in pristine condition, you can use that when presenting paint and fabric protection: “Mr. and Ms. Jones, I couldn’t help but notice how nice your trade-in was or because I see you like to take good care of your car, I recommend the paint and fabric protection.”
Maybe you noticed pet hair on the upholstery. “Mr. and Ms. Jones, I understand you have pets that ride along with you. Having the paint and fabric protection will help in keeping the new car looking newer longer.”
Maybe the CarFax showed a wheel and tire repair, windshield repair, or general repair. The sales associate found out that the customer had purchased a vehicle service contract or paint and fabric protection on the vehicle they’re trading in. Asking your customer about how they plan on maintaining the vehicle, how long they plan on owning the vehicle, and how many miles they plan on traveling in it gives you a bases to tell them why they should buy.
Finding a customer’s insurance deductible can tell you a lot about the type of risk they’re willing to take. Customers with a low deducible have a tendency of not excepting risk while a higher deductible indicates a customer who accepts risk. Getting a customer’s view of the vehicle’s technology, safety, and convenience features can establish a dialog that exposes a need and the “why buy” as well. Gathering as much information about your customers views, driving habits, and ownership traits as possible will deliver an abundance of vital information that can be used to influence them to consider your offerings, advice, and recommendations. Afterall how can you advise or suggest something if you don’t know why you’re making the recommendation.
Sure, you can mention the “what if it happens,” but think of the results you’ll get by stating the facts. It’s no secret the products and services available in F&I have value and are desirable to customers what’s not desired by your customer is paying for them. I do believe everybody wants the products. I also believe everyone sees value in the products, just not enough to justify the cost.
Planning and preparation serve as a great start to perform better. Start your plan by reviewing the deal with the sales staff, take note of the information and data available at the onset. Become better prepared to manage customers resistance, apprehensions, thoughts of no need or not wanting to buy through a commitment to collect relevant information, information that can be used to drive your customer closer to a yes.
Exposing a need, discovering the why buy, and establishing a want makes the invisible recognizable as a benefit resulting in more customers taking advantage of your offerings. Seeing is believing!
Gerry Gould is the founder of Gerry Gould & Associates.