While everyone defines success differently, all successful people have certain things in common. They have a constant drive to better themselves, to provide value to a team, and to set attainable goals for themselves. F&I managers are tasked with helping an automotive dealership maximize profits and helping their team members flourish.
Whether you are a seasoned veteran or new to the F&I space, there are some key lessons you can always consider when you are striving to improve your performance. Having the humility to recognize your imperfections is the first step to overcoming them. Think about what you can take away from the following principles and how you can apply them to your sales strategies moving forward.
Listen Actively to Your Customers
There is a difference between listening to what a person says and understanding the meaning behind it. If you are not aware of what your customers truly want or need, you will not be able to satisfy their demands. Active listening involves letting the other person know how you’ve interpreted their words so that they can clarify their needs if you’ve not understood them.
Use statements such as “what you told me earlier” or “I understand that you” when you are communicating. You can then connect the dots between their needs and certain products that you may be able to offer them that fill those needs. Also, try to understand what may be holding a customer back. Is it that the customer cannot afford the product or that he or she doesn’t understand the value?
Make sure also that you are talking with your customers rather than at them. The most successful approach is to let them do most of the talking and simply to confirm with them that you understand. Open-ended questions accomplish this goal because it puts the conversation back in their hands and presents you with more opportunities to determine if you have a product that suits their needs.
Do Not Oversell
One of the stereotypes that you need to get past is that of the overly pushy salesman. Many customers will arrive with their guards up, determined not to spend a single dollar more than they deem necessary. The perfect way to make them even more uncomfortable is to push a product that they did not express interest in.
This is where active listening can assist you, but you also need to recognize an opportunity when it presents itself. Making assumptions is another thing that hurts F&I managers. Do not be afraid to ask for the close if you have listened to the customer and successfully conveyed the value of your product.
Befriend Your Customers
People are more likely to purchase things from people that they trust. While you are talking with them, do not focus solely on the sale. Doing so can make you seem cold and robotic. When your customer reveals something that he and she may have in common with you, take that opportunity to build rapport.
Don’t be afraid to crack a joke. If you are likable, your customer will begin to see you as more than an F&I manager behind your desk. The more you can get your customers to smile and laugh, the more you will find that the close comes more easily and without the tension that normally accompanies automotive sales closings.
Use Visual Aids
Not everyone processes information the same way. While some people can understand when you give a verbal rebuttal to an objection, others need to see examples. Instead of explaining the math, you can find a way to show the person instead, such as explaining the cost of vehicle repairs by putting a recent work order from the service department on your desk for them to read.
Visualization is a powerful tool. From the beginning of an automotive sale until the end, it can be effective in making a customer feel as though something belongs to them. They take test drives so that they can visualize driving the car to or from work or parked in their garages. If you show them the possible downfall of not having warranty coverage via that bill, they will understand what they are risking. That may be what it takes to turn a “no” into a “yes.”
Review Your Work
Take some time every day to review every one of the deals that you worked on. Even if it went smoothly, there was something you could have done to improve it. Investing this time will help prevent you from falling into the same routine with every single customer. When this happens, you can come across as monotone, disinterested, and insincere.
Did you tailor your approach to the customer and properly access his or her needs? What could you have said differently? What opportunities did you miss? Making yourself aware of all these things will allow you to brainstorm ways that you can tackle the next day more effectively.
This step is especially important if you have found yourself in a slump. Every F&I manager will experience droughts. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with what you are saying or doing, but as frustration builds, you may begin to do things differently. If you are aware of these mistakes, you can correct your course.
Continue Your Training
Successful F&I managers are humble enough to know that there is always something to learn. If you are finding yourself in a long-term slump or just want to continue to become better at your job, you should consider ways to add tools to your skillset. Bouncing ideas off of others who are in the field can help you while also improving their performance— providing a benefit to each party.
You can also take classes to hone and improve your skills. Sometimes, the information you learn will shake off some of the rust that has gathered since you last attended a training course. In other cases, you may learn something that completely transforms your business and makes all the difference for you.
The Automotive Dealership Institute has been training F&I managers for over 32 years. We provide classes in person as well as online. Our online courses make it easy to learn at your own schedule without needing to attend a school. If you are looking to take the next step in your career, learn more by filling out our online contact form or giving us a call at 877-998-7200.