Ironically, these F&I sales people probably could have done it the right way and been effective at it, if they just knew what the right way was.

We make the choice. Do we sell the value of our products, or do we deceive people into buying things?

This is a decision that all finance & insurance people have to make for themselves, and you can't have it both ways.

There is a separate mind set that comes with each approach. We can't present our products effectively if it is our personal view that they don't have value. These are the finance people who resort to deceptive selling. They think it's the only way.

An aggressive F&I sales approach is one that comes from understanding the benefits of the products you offer, then presenting them to your customers to address their needs. We transfer the enthusiasm we have for the products to the customer.

That doesn't mean you get up on your desk and jump up and down. It means you have a genuine passion for the offer you are making to the customer and you transfer that passion to the customer, so they can make an informed decision.

Dealers have asked me if they should video tape F&I transactions to make sure the F&I manager isn't saying wrong things to the customer. Some “experts” say yes to such surveillance. I say no!

If you think you need to video tape your F&I manager, I suggest you find a new one instead. We can't on one hand put up with the customer complaints that come with deceptive selling in the name of profitability, and then on the other hand say, “I need to watch my F&I office.”

Most of us have heard of the deceptive selling that has made the news. It involved packing payments with products that the customer didn't know were there and representing those payments as the cost to purchase the automobile.

In some of these recorded cases, the F&I managers actually looked the customer in the eye and lied. They stepped over the line to lying and deceiving.

Ironically, these F&I sales people probably could have done it the right way and been effective at it, if they just knew what the right way was. Instead, many of these cases are discovered. They often wind up in the courts or in the newspapers, and give the dealership a black eye.

Doing it the right way involves making a paradigm shift. In a general sense, a paradigm is the way we see the world — not visually but in terms of perceiving, understanding and interpreting.

As to our job as finance manager, it's how we see our function. Do we offer a valuable service to the customers, or are the products that we offer just additional add-ons that increase their payment, line our pockets, and add no value?

If the latter is your opinion, you can't be an aggressive F&I sales person. You won't have the healthy enthusiasm for what you do, which is what the customer buys. Until you come to grips with this and make the shift you won't see the true potential of doing it the right way.

Look at this picture. Do you see the older lady or the younger lady? They are both there. If you look long enough you can see both. This is the shift I'm speaking of. Same image, same set of eyes looking at it, but an entirely different perception.

Aggressive F&I sales don't just occur. They are formulated from your beliefs of what a successful F&I person is. In other words, how you see yourself as an F&I manager. Is your belief that the characteristics of an aggressive F&I person are:

  • Understanding the value and benefits of the products you offer
  • Approaching the customer in a way that breaks their pre-occupation
  • Presenting your products to “qualify the customer to buy”
  • Welcome their objections because you know that they show interest
  • Getting them to make a decision.

You do this in a straight-forward, honest, and sincere way in a reasonable amount of time. You recognize that customer satisfaction is just as important as F&I profits, and both can be achieved.

Make the right the choice, aggressive F&I sales or deceptive F&I sales?

Ron Martin is the author of the book “The Vision of Finance and Insurance” and a national sales trainer and consultant for auto dealers. His company is The Vision of F&I Inc., 219-637-2796;