How to Succeed With a Counterintuitive F&I Strategy
The counterintuitive F&I strategy builds sales by meeting needs—not by active selling
We all know why the scorpion stung the frog after all, right? It’s what a scorpion does, even after the frog has done it a favor.
Fortunately, our industry’s “scorpions” are leaving the car business as new talent, not burdened by tricks, attitudes, and tactics once so colorful in our business, takes over. There’s revived hope that fresh talent is willing to embrace new ideas of how F&I should be sold.
Their approach is counterintuitive to traditional F&I training. With this new approach, there’s more going on than “How can I sell them ____?”
For instance, the counterintuitive F&I strategist is a problem-solver first and sales personality second. This type of professional has a deeper understanding of customers, asks specific questions, and actively listens to pick up on subtle clues that paint pictures.
These pictures that buyers paint as they talk give the counterintuitive F&I practitioner insight into their lifestyles. These signs point to the aftermarket products you sell that address their concerns: vehicle investment protection, risk mitigation, and family security, for instance.
Get invited in
The counterintuitive F&I strategy builds sales by meeting needs—not by active selling—and this approach frees the F&I manager to truly manage the F&I process. In other words, buyers know when F&I is out to take advantage of them, and the lack of trust that results is a deal-killer.
The counterintuitive F&I strategist’s intent is to be helpful and educate customers about product value, which enables them to fearlessly approach any conversation with buyers.
What your customers are looking for is twofold: They are looking for you to show them your character and your competence. They also want to know you are trying to treat them fairly, and that you know how to create a positive experience for them.
This inspires trust, and ultimately leads to a better transaction for you and your customer.
A straightforward process
Much of traditional F&I training is about overcoming objections, but often the focus on the opposition prevents you from focusing on the problem itself. When we concentrate on the problem our product solves, we can more effectively handle questions or objections.
- Pick packages. Do we know what to do if they choose a package? Yes—we start printing!
- Ask questions. Do we know how to answer all their questions? How you frame the conversation defines the transaction. Do you frame questions as a threat or an opportunity?
- Object. Do we know what to do when this happens?Too often, we don’t, and that erodes trust and sales.
Consumers often object because they lack the right data to make an affirmative decision. For example: customers who give a “no” response before seeing the product details and cost.
If they do not trust you (because of the dealership, the deal, or emotions sparked by a friends’ horror story), any transaction will inevitably be more complicated. This is not necessarily a problem, however, in the hands of a customer-focused F&I practitioner.
Lean in with confidence
Customers buy character and competency: yours. Show character by being genuine and discussing products based on the customer’s agenda.
Counterintuitive F&I is about helping customers solve problems—needs spoken or unspoken—that your time with them helps you discover and understand. Demonstrate competency by sharing a thorough understanding of exactly how your products work and how they address buyer concerns.
The goal is to solve your customers’ problems before they occur. Being good at problem-solving leads directly to success, not just in the box, but in most endeavors in life.
Counterintuitive F&I gets into the customer’s mind, where it identifies buy triggers, some that they might even vocalize. The task then is to demonstrate how the products you offer protect their vehicle investment, ensure more reliable vehicle performance, keep their family safely on the road, and safeguard their budget. Your products do that, which is why you offer them.
F&I professionals more focused on their customers than their wallets will connect those dots, and their product penetration and profitability per transaction will increase.
Lloyd Trushel is a key member of a group of associated companies and undertakings including Consator Group, F&IQ, CAP Warranty, First Choice Warranty, Intelibuy, and others. He previously was an F&I trainer and “Top Notch” award-winning account manager for Assurant. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.