Are dealerships missing opportunities by focusing too much on overcoming objections in the finance and insurance office?

F&I trainer Lloyd Trushel thinks so and calls for a more personal engagement with customers, saying it will increase product penetration rates.

“The 1970s strategy of simply overcoming objections doesn’t work anymore,” he says.

“It doesn’t, because consumers are more skeptical, have more product information (or misinformation) than your F&I people do and have opinions before F&I ever speaks to them about product values,” says Trushel, who had taught the traditional method of F&I closes.

Ben Brannon at namesake Brannon Honda in Birmingham, AL, has tried the updated approach advocated by Trushel and reports a spike in F&I sales.

“Lloyd teaches lifetime customer care – building retention-directed conversations that link (F&I customers) to our service department,” Brannon says. “We now work from a products-sold pay plan that is advancing overall health of the dealership.

“If a dealership is to be sustainable for years to come, able to weather storms like 2008, we must build a strong, loyal customer base. The products we now sell more successfully are building this base for down the road.”

Because of today’s customers’ ready access to information and choices, “we can’t continue to respond to objections with word tracks like F&I tends to do,” says Trushel, who founded consultancy Consator Group in 2010.

“As F&I professionals, we must stop thinking about our pay plans, PVR (per-vehicle retailed) and quotas, and instead focus on the person sitting across the table,” he says. “We have to be asking ourselves, ‘How can I make this experience better for you now and in the future?’At first this seems counterintuitive but it is the key to higher profits, customer retention and higher CSI,”

He believes it’s unproductive to offer a value presentation without having first captured the potential buyer’s trust.

In 2008, did his own study on the psychological, social and economic behaviors of buyers. He said he incorporated this knowledge into his F&I coaching.

“I discovered that most Americans live paycheck to paycheck, even people that look affluent on the surface,” he says.

Therefore, an unexpected vehicle expense such as a major repair “is significant money to many of our customers,” he says. “Given this picture, paying $35 per month for a service contract will seem a more reasonable choice.”

Brannon says: “There is more to successful F&I sales than presenting a product menu you need to defend. Let’s first listen to our F&I customers and then address those needs, which builds trust and rapport and leads to a better F&I experience.”