Most F&I Managers have probably heard “The Rule of All” which means present “All products, to all customers, all of the time.” This was sound advice fifteen years ago when we only had three or four products to sell, but today with the multitude of products they’re offering, it can be sales suicide.
If a Business Manager offers GAP to someone with 50% down or a warranty to someone with a two year, 40.000 km. lease that said they would not buy the vehicle out, they’ll lose credibility. If on the other hand, their product offering is based upon the needs of the customers, they’re sure to make sales.
I’ve worked with some of the best F&I managers in North America and many of them share a common characteristic, they cherry pick. They have an uncanny ability to build rapport, identify their customers’ needs and provide them with a solution that meets their needs in a very short time. Typically, they’ll only present three or four products per turn over and the things they present are always needs based.
“To be a top performer, an F&I Manager must ask carefully crafted questions and then listen to the answers.”
Even if they use a menu that has eight products, they’ll use the three most powerful words in sales which are “You told me” to say “You told me you would only keep the car for two years and you never drive more than 20,000 km’s a year, so I don’t recommend the extended warranty.” Telling someone that they don’t need a product is an instant credibility builder because it shows that they only have the customers’ best interest at heart.
To be a top performer, an F&I Manager must ask carefully crafted questions and then listen to the answers. Listening to their answers enables F&I Managers to evaluate their needs and then fulfill them with the appropriate product.
The best place to perform a needs evaluation is in the Sales Consultant’s office. Think about it, when a Sales Consultant meets a prospect the first time, they’re often getting a cold reception from someone that doesn’t know, like or trust them. It’s only after they build sufficient rapport by selling themselves and the dealership that the customer is comfortable enough to buy. Most of the time this transition from cold to warm, happens in the Sales Consultant’s office.
So why ask them to leave a warm, comfortable environment, where they just made a major buying decision, to go to a cold environment to meet a F&I Manager? If a Business Manager does go through the whole process in their office it can take 45 to 60 minutes.
Your customer’s F&I “clock” starts when they enter the F&I Manager’s office and 45 to 60 minutes is a long time! We don’t want to shorten the selling time; we only want to shorten your customers’ perception of the F&I process.
If a Business Manager meets, builds rapport, reviews the process, and does the needs evaluation in the Sales Consultant’s office the F&I process is now reduced to the second half of the transaction. The new perception of the F&I experience is that it only lasted for the 15 to 20 minutes it took to present the products and print and sign the paperwork. This will increase sales and improve CSI!
Here are a few of the best qualifying questions that I’ve heard asked in a Sales Consultant’s office:
“If you were unable to make your monthly payments for any medical reason, would you rather have your vehicle become an asset or a liability for you and your family?”
“I see that you’re financing your new car over 72 months, do you plan on keeping it that long or longer?”
“Bearing in mind that the average Canadian does about 24,000 km. per year would you drive that many or more?”
“Is the resale value of your new car important to you, or will you be passing it on to a family member?”
Once the Business Manager has the customer back in their office they would offer a needs-based product presentation using the “You told me” technique.
“You told me that you want your vehicle to be an asset as opposed to liability if you were unable to make your payments, that’s why I’m recommending a fully secured monthly payment. A fully secured monthly payment will pay off the vehicle in the event of your death or make your monthly payments if you were not able to due to an injury or a health problem.”
“You told me you were keeping your new car for six years and that your drive about 24,000 km per year, that’s why I’m recommending a six year/150,000.00 km extended warranty. This program will give you fully comprehensive warranty coverage throughout your entire ownership cycle.”
“You also told me that the resale value of your vehicle was important to you, that’s why I’m recommending our environmental protection program. This program will protect your vehicle from the elements and help increase its resale value.”
Always remember that selling is “asking not telling” and carefully constructed questions that are asked in a warm environment will help your Business Managers clearly identify your customers’ needs. Forming a presentation that revolves around their needs is the best way to increase sales, maintain credibility and improve the F&I experience.
Author: James De Luca
James De Luca, Vice President of Digital Road to a Sale Inc., has been increasing profitability at car dealerships with innovative training solutions since 1998. In 2015 he developed the world’s first Omni-Channel F&I process to empower dealerships with the ability to eliminate “No T/O’s” by delivering equally effective F&I presentations to anyone, anytime, anywhere, on any device. In 2015 he founded the Digital Road to a Sale Inc.