Seek out information, illustrations and articles that you can present as evidence to validate your claims. - Pexels/ugurlu photographer

Seek out information, illustrations and articles that you can present as evidence to validate your claims.

Pexels/ugurlu photographer

A fact is something that is true and can be backed up with evidence. In a sales situation, facts are a reality, whereas fiction is something that can be made up and considered an opinion. Therefore, facts rain truth. Providing facts and evidence during your presentation will not only make it more engaging but also increase its credibility and impact. With a few tweaks to your approach and some proven strategies, you can learn how to make your presentation more intriguing, persuasive and captivating for your customer.

So much has been written and said about how the F&I interview’s fact-finding and information gathering is either pointless, a waste of time, selfish or transparent to customers. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is the more you know about your customer, the more you will sell! Just think about it – how can you make a recommendation, advise your customer of the benefits as they pertain to them, or provide value or insight to your customer without knowing anything about them?

The F&I “interview,” or as I like to call it, the “introduction,” provides you with evidence about vehicle usage and the customer’s ownership tendencies. It also exposes the “Why Buy” and “Why the Need” that enables you to open better dialogue when asking for the business. After all, “you told me so” or “you mentioned to me earlier” goes a long way when attempting to close on the options. The “introduction” also serves to solidify the sale, set expectations, which will lower apprehensions and resistance, and gives you a chance to verify the accuracy of information. So what information is important to know before you enter a presentation. Here is a short example:

Verify the Details and Accuracy of Information

  • Primary Driver - Name of Owner - Physical Address
  • Vehicle - Miles - Color - Trim
  • Price - Payments - Down Payment - Payoff

Review the Credit Application

  • Time at Job and Residence
  • Income – Any Additional Income

Gather Information

  • “What do you think of all new technology and safety features?”
  • “How often do you like to service your vehicles?”
  • “How long do you plan on keeping this vehicle?”
  • “How many miles a year do you usually drive?”
  • “Do you have any pets that will be riding along?”
  • “Do you usually garage your vehicle?”
  • “What is your insurance deductible?”
  • “If I could get better terms with more money down, would you consider putting more money down?”

Your customers won’t buy simply on your say-so. They must go through a period of self-discovery before making the decision that your offerings are a good decision. Resistance is preprogrammed. A better approach is to ask key questions that allow your customer to discover the benefits and advantages on his or her own. When you ask questions that lead to a discovery, your customer then “owns” the discovery, and the resistance disappears. After all, people don’t tend to argue with their own data. When it comes to “Asking for the Business,” it's not just about the word tracks. How you deliver your point is paramount to your success. There are a few additional strategies you can use to increase effectiveness, credibility and professionalism while “Asking for the Business.” Here are a few fact-finding techniques you can use to amplify the “why buy” and energize your presentation:

Don’t Get Furious - Get Curious

  • “I’m curious. Many of my customers see value in an option/product.
  • What was your concern?”
  • “I’m surprised you had no interest in the options, given the miles you drive and time you’ll be keeping the vehicle.”
  • “I found that most folks don’t see enough value in the options to spend the extra money. Is that how you feel?”
  • “What is it about the {PRODUCT/OPTION} that concerns you?”
  • “What products do you see the most value in?”

Keep your customer involved and engaged in the conversation by asking questions.

  • “What’s your understanding of the manufacturer’s warranty?”
  • “What’s your understanding of the cost to replace the tires and wheels?”
  • “What’s your understanding of the cost involved in maintaining the vehicle?”
  • “What’s your understanding of the cost to repair or replace the keys?”
  • “What’s your understanding of the effect your vehicle’s appearance has at trade-in time?”
  • “What’s your understanding of your insurance company's responsibility should the vehicle be declared a total loss?”
  • “What’s your understanding of your responsibility at lease-end?”

There are so many elements you can add to your presentation to make it more effective and interesting for your customers. Two of these are facts and evidence, and the reason they are effective is simple: Adding support from outside sources reinforces the legitimacy of the information you are presenting and the statements you make. Facts and evidence are the backbone of your presentation, especially when it comes to closing the sale.

Educate yourself and become well-versed regarding the products and services you offer. Seek out information, illustrations and articles that you can present as evidence to validate your claims. There are numerous articles you can search online that allow you to cite an authority or nudge your customer to a reason for purchasing. Gather the facts regarding competitive products and services offered through insurance companies, local credit unions and banks. Get the facts on coverage limitations and how they pay, from labor rates to replacement parts. After all, insurance companies, banks and credit unions don’t have services departments, right? So who’s your customer going to call?

There is an old sales axiom that says, “Facts tell, but stories sell.” Storytelling is another great way of influencing your customer to purchase products and services you are offering. When telling stories, back them up with evidence. The evidence turns your story from fiction to fact. Tell stories of real-life incidents that you or customers have had in the past. Back up your stories with repair orders or testimonials. The right story can help your customer think through circumstances and understand the consequences before they happen. Take your customer back to an unpleasant experience. Ask customers to tell their stories of incidents they had in the past:

“Looking back at all the vehicles you’ve owned or leased in the past had you had any issues, minor or major?” If they say they have had them, elaborate. “Can you tell me what happened?” or “How did you feel?” “What remedy did you have?” Wouldn’t you like to have something to rely on if that were to happen again?”

That’s how you take them back to a situation they don’t want to be in again.

Here’s a little humor that may ring true in your customer’s mind: “Every mile you drive, you get closer and closer to something happening.” or “Just because the factory doesn’t cover it doesn’t mean it can’t be covered.”

Seriously, don’t underestimate the power of facts and evidence. A lot of F&I managers have forgotten how or are unwilling to use facts and evidence when presenting and attempting to close. Many make unsupported statements or baseless claims and reason that the customer is just supposed to swallow it whole. If you want to convince your customers that your opinions are sound, your probabilities are accurate or your recommendations are valid, back them up with facts and evidence.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gerry Gould is president of Gerry Gould & Associates, an automotive front-end sales associate, sales, and finance manager training and coaching platform, as well as director of training for ProdPrep, an online training resource for auto dealership departments.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was authored and edited according to F&I and Showroom editorial standards and style. Opinions expressed may not reflect that of the publication.


Originally posted on F&I and Showroom