Guest column by Mike Hirschfield, President & Founder of Cornerstone Dealer Development, a National Sales and F&I Training Company
It was November 2005 when I got the chance to attend a Ford F&I menu training class. I was a young, overly confident new finance manager, and while I previously tore it up as a top sales performer, I had yet to hit my groove in F&I.
I must say that the majority of the training I received that day was beneficial, especially for someone new to the position, but there was one thing that really bothered me. No… it was not the 300% Rule (100% of the products to 100% of the people 100% of the time) which I completely bought into, it was the 10-80-10 Rule. You see, the trainer explained that in F&I I should expect that 10% of my customers who are presented a menu will buy everything, 80% will buy something, and 10% will buy NOTHING! His advice…forget the 10% that buy nothing, and focus on the 80% that buy something.
I absolutely detested the idea that no matter what I did 10% of my customers just weren’t going to buy. Heck, as a salesperson I had made a living turning “non-buyers” into buyers. There was no way I was going to accept this 10-80-10 rule.
Fast forward 12 years later and I can tell you that my conviction and belief that everyone is a buyer and everyone can be motivated to buy now has been a firm foundation that has served me well as a finance manager, group sales & finance director, general manager, vice president of sales, and industry trainer.
If you share in this belief, or if you are just curious about how you can eliminate the zeros in F&I read on… success is found when the weight is dropped!
Every finance manager faces that customer who cuts them off and says, “I am not interested, I just want to quickly sign my paperwork and go.” You see, when a customer comes in and refuses to connect with you, won’t listen to you, and will not engage with you, they are holding weight.
Have you ever held a weight out in front of you? Whether it is five pounds or 100 pounds, it takes a lot of focus and concentration to hold weight.
This is no different for your customer. They are emotionally fixed. They made the conscious decision to resist you before they ever met you, and the more you try to engage them in your process the more they resist. Sound familiar?
Before you can have any meaningful dialog with them, they must first drop the weight. I call this an emotional interrupt! An emotional interrupt is where you ask the customer about something seemingly totally unrelated to the deal. You ask them a question that is so unusual, so unexpected, that they lose focus and drop the weight.
I can recall one deal where no matter what I did in the F&I interview this man was just not going to like me. He was short, abrupt, and borderline rude. When he joined me in my office he said to skip the pitch, he didn’t even want to see a menu, he just wanted to sign and drive.
So, of course, I agreed with him and started to print the paperwork. A few forms in I shouted with my back to him (my back was to him because my antiquated dot-matrix printer was directly behind me) “what do you have for health insurance?” This completely took him off guard, to say the least.
At first, he said it was none of my business, but after coaxing him he finally divulged. As it turned out, he was in the same boat as many with a high-deductible healthcare plan.
With his focus interrupted and the weight dropped, we shared in the mutual detest of healthcare plans, and I moved back into my process.
I said, “Let me ask you a question. What if your agent called you tomorrow and said he had great news! He had a new healthcare plan where you could take advantage of benefits that had no deductible. That’s right, no deductible, and all you have to do is pay an addition $30 per month.
What would you do?
Of course, the man said he’d be all over that in a heartbeat, and I quickly reminded him that I was trying to do the same thing for him with his vehicle. That for only $30 per month he could eliminate the unknown expense and take advantage of zero deductible nationwide benefits. With the weight dropped and ears open after a little more explaining and selling he bought the vehicle service contract, and then the GAP, and then the maintenance plan.
Next time you are facing that short, abrupt, borderline rude customer get them to drop the weight and you’ll be surprised at how fast things change.
I look forward to your questions and comments below.
Mike Hirschfield is the President & Founder of Cornerstone Dealer Development, a National Sales and F&I Training Company. Mike helps teams and individuals build personal influence, become trusted advisors, and leverage personal solutions that are aligned with their customers’ most powerful buying motives. Mike helps teams and individuals grow their sales & profits by developing their ability to ✔Connect ✔Compel and ✔Commit their customers to take action and buy now! Follow Mike on Twitter @FoundationToWin