Saturday, November 8, 2008

Making Presentations Non-Threatening

By David Lewis

Ask your business manager if he or she knows this feeling. They're making a service contract presentation and can just feel and sense the customer squirming. It is very uncomfortable for both them and the customer. The customer doesn't want to be ignorant and stop them, and your business manager still has to make the presentation, all along having a defeated attitude.

This is not the best situation for success selling any F&I products. Check your F&I department's service program and insurance penetrations. Chances are, the percentages of non-penetration are directly from this circumstance.

This can be changed and all it takes is some examination of the question, "Why?" Why are customers uncomfortable listening to a presentation of a product that they don't even know anything about and that may be extremely beneficial to them?

If we understand the psychology of customers' defense mechanisms and their perceptions of what they can expect when put into most selling situations, we can then better understand why they are uncomfortable and how to reduce seller/buyer tensions.

Let's examine the "whys." First, what is a customer's perception of what your business manager really is? The customer perceives them as a salesperson and a salesperson is someone who tries to sell you something for profit.

What is a customer's perception of what a salesperson will do to make a sale for profit? The answer is anything, especially pressure. Why? Because it is in the Salesperson's best financial interest if the customer buys (regardless if it is something good for the customer or not), and a waste of the Salesperson's time if the customer does not.

If you can truly say your F&I Manager is a trained professional, then none of the above customer perceptions should apply to him or her, and they need to let the customer know it! This will allow them to relax and be more receptive to the presentation, which is crucial to getting good objections.

Professional salespeople do not need to use pressure. They believe, and are correct, in feeling they are offering a valuable product or service. They are prepared to respond and do respond to customers' questions and objections logically and intelligently so the customer has all the right information before being expected to make a decision.

Also, they know that regardless of the value of their product or service it will not be for everyone. They know that making a certain number of presentations is required in order to make a certain number of sales. Consequently, professional salespeople are not frustrated about spending a sufficient amount of time with a customer without making the sale, therefore do not show frustration to the customer.

How does your business manager let the customer know they are unique, different and more professional than any other dealership personnel they've encountered? We have found there are two very simple ways for this to be accomplished.

First, we want the customer to feel that we are letting them know what is available to them, what are the features, advantages and benefits, and what it will cost, because they deserve to know. Secondly, when we address their issues (objections) we are only providing them with all the information they should have before making a decision, whether to buy (enroll) or not to buy (enroll), because they deserve to know this also. Note: I prefer to use psychological verbiage, i.e., I believe customers would much rather "enroll in a service program" than "buy an extended warranty."

So how do we get this across to the customer. It's simple. Just say it.

If your business manager senses the customer is feeling uncomfortable or threatened during any of your presentations, simply have them say, "Mr. Jones, Mrs. Jones, by the way the reason I am presenting this program to you is because Mr. Lewis, the dealer, insists that every customer knows what is available to them, what it will and won't do for them, and the cost. He feels you deserve to know, then make your decision as to its benefit or lack of benefit to you."

A tremendously unique way to get this concept to the forefront is something I recommend every business manager do, which many of my clients have done with great success, and that is have a small engraved plaque on their desk that says, "OUR CUSTOMERS DESERVE TO KNOW!," and below that your signature engraved.

When your business manager tells the customer you insist that every customer be told what is available to them, what it will provide, etc., as suggested above, they then can point to the plaque and reinforce their statement. But, most of the time the customer will ask, "what does that mean, the customer deserves to know what?" This is perfect, as your business manager will be able to use the verbiage even before he or she begins their presentation.

Obviously, even if the customer has some interest after the presentation, they will have objections (requests for more information), and your business manager should be prepared to respond to their objections and counter their negative thoughts with positive thoughts. This is not pressure, it is logical and intelligent persistence, which the customer also deserves. If the responses to their negative thought processes (objections) are in fact logical and intelligent, then you are doing nothing more than providing the customer with more information to digest before making their decision, whether to enroll or not to enroll.

Tell the customer this, and it should take away their resistance. The selling process will then become more like a non-confrontational discussion and be perceived by the customer as a comfortable process that has their best interest in mind.

Remember, no customer likes to be sold anything. They would much prefer to make a decision to purchase. Create that comfort level with the customer and develop that bond and trust by taking away that feeling of personal gain, and making it one of mutual respect.

Good Stuff.


To measure a "well-run" automotive F&I Department, visit:

No comments: