It’s a well-known fact in auto retailing: “No” doesn’t always mean “no.”

In most cases, a salesperson with the right attitude, assertive mindset and enthusiastic approach can turn a “No thanks, I’m just looking” into a that-day sale and delivery. The same goes for everything that happens in the finance & insurance office.

Anyone who’s ever been promoted to F&I from sales knows customer resistance doesn’t end with the commitment to buy. How many times after you’ve presented your F&I menu has a customer told you they just want to stick with the base payment?

If you answered “Always” you’re in good company. It’s how you handle the “no” that makes all the difference.

I’m often asked how many “no” answers it takes to know when it’s time to give up and start printing out the paperwork.

The truth is, there is no magic number. It’s a delicate balancing act you must perform each and every time. It’s an acquired skill that lets you know where the line is drawn between assertive and pushy. Taking the latter route almost always fails.

To master the art of getting past resistance, gauge your approach. This starts by asking yourself an important question: When you present products, are you doing it for a paycheck or do you genuinely recognize how the products can benefit your customer?

Selling with just dollar signs in mind is a recipe for failure. Likewise, when you know nothing about the individual customer’s needs it becomes impossible to sell them on the value of the products.

This is where the interview comes into play. All too often, F&I managers will say they simply don’t have the time to interview buyers early into negotiations, opting instead to wait until the customer is in the office. The problem with this is that you can’t expect a customer to tell you everything you need to know to help you overcome product objection when their guard is up. Performing the interview early in the process is crucial.

The ideal time to do this is once they’ve decided to buy. This catches your customer when excitation over their decision is at the high point.

It also allows you to validate the purchase by offering additional insight into what products will be of most value to them.

It’s about creating a common bond that helps guide the customer to a valuable product selection.

It’s about discussing the consequences of not taking advantage of certain products and how that can affect the longevity of their investment.

Turning a “no” into a “yes” in F&I rests entirely on seeing the advantages of the product through the customer’s eyes.

Masters of the sales trade know the importance of drawing out specific information from the customer in order to meet their needs. Jeffrey Gitomer, author of the Little Red Book of Sales, offers numerous pointers on this. “Before you meet your prospect, do your homework,” he writes, adding that most salespersons make the mistake of getting all their own stuff ready, but overlooking the buyer.

Gitomer also notes the psychology behind consumer resistance. “A risk of purchase is some mental or physical barrier, real or imagined that causes a person to hesitate or rethink ownership,” he writes. “As a salesperson, your job is to identify the risk and eliminate it.”

Becoming proficient in understanding customer needs helps you overcome product objections. Depending on how engaging you are, how consistent you are in your presentations, and the context of the information you gather during your customer interview, you can easily turn a “no” into a “yes.”

It’s up to you to make it happen.

Rebecca Chernek heads Chernek Consulting. Websites chernekconsulting.com and chernekconsultingvirtualpro.com feature an F&I interactive training platform. She is at becky@chernekconsulting.com