During finance and insurance training sessions, many students itch to learn how to respond to objections, F&I trainers say. But they advise a better way: head off customer resistance to F&I products in the first place by starting with an interview earlier in the transaction.
Historically, most dealerships obeyed the 300 percent rule: Present 100 percent of the products to 100 percent of customers 100 percent of the time.
Although many F&I managers still show customers each product they qualify for, the sales process increasingly has become more prescriptive, or needs-based, shaped by the interview, instead of the old-style standardized sales pitch repeated to all customers, F&I trainers and directors say.
"It's really about following up with the customer and trying to make it more conversational," said Steve Roennau, vice president of training and compliance at EFG Cos., of Grapevine, Texas. The interview gives the F&I manager an opportunity to build rapport with the customer and learn more about their lifestyle and needs, he said.
"Our approach is all about learning about the customer as much as possible so that you can make the best recommendations based on what you know about the customer, what their needs are," Roennau said.
Ron Reahard, president of Reahard & Associates, of Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., agreed. "What works today is needs-based selling," he said. While an F&I manager might say to the customer, "Maybe everybody needs this," he or she immediately would add that more specifically, "you do — and here's why," citing what the customer has said previously about, say, their driving habits.