DONNA HARRIS

For F&I managers, timing is critical

Donna Harris covers automotive retailing for Automotive News

More and more, I'm hearing sales experts say that the finance manager should be introduced early in the sales process.

Danny Alkassmi, of Rising Beyond Inc. in Philadelphia, is just the latest sales trainer I've heard urge dealerships to get finance managers to connect with customers before the deal is officially closed.

Alkassmi, who trains high-volume dealership groups such as Sullivan Automotive Group in Santa Monica, Calif., says timing is critical. He says introducing the finance manager early can as much as double the chances of selling aftermarket products.

So just when do you introduce the finance manager, and what should you say?

The best time is right after customers choose the vehicle they want and are ready to go forward with a purchase.

The salesperson or sales manager says: "I'd like you to meet our finance manager, who will take care of the paperwork and go over additional options available to you before the deal is closed."

The finance manager then greets the customer. At some dealerships, finance managers also conduct a brief interview to gauge the customer's needs. The interview can take place when the sales manager is getting an appraisal of the trade.

Why does Alkassmi think an early intro works? The finance manager becomes a familiar face. So when the time comes to sell products, the customer is more receptive.

And customers are prepared to consider other products because they've been told there are more purchase options before the vehicle sale is officially closed.

Says Alkassmi: "If the customer is ready to leave, it's too late."

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