It is not what you know about your products that is most important, it is what you know about your customers. After all, customers don’t care what you know, if you don’t know them! Top producers sell more because they seek out and leverage powerful customer insights! How do you prepare to present? Do you facilitate customer interviews, or are they really nothing more than customer interrogations? Maybe you avoid meeting with your customers altogether until it’s time to present, because you are afraid of raising their resistance. Unfortunately, if you completely avoid your customers until it’s time to serve and sell, you will be limited to less-than-influential low-level value propositions. Top producers purposefully seek out customer insights so that they can create a level of value that builds connections and compels their customers to buy!
You should have three goals for each and every customer interview in F&I: 1: Protect your opportunity to serve and sell by ensuring the accuracy of all necessary information; 2: Position your opportunity to serve and sell by properly managing your customers’ expectations; 3: Create opportunity to serve and sell by learning, leading, and leveraging what really drives your customers.
Your F&I products provide tremendous value, but sometimes customers just don’t see it! If you want to be able to truly influence your customers to purchase your products, versus merely just going over a menu and explaining, “this is what it is, and this is what it does,” then you first need to acquire insight. Real insight is gained through connecting with your customers and then asking them really good personal questions. Here are five basic questions to get started:
1: What attracted you to the vehicle?
Your customer just decided to move forward with a major purchase. Why wouldn’t you want to know what attracted them to the vehicle in the first place? The easiest way to influence your customers to purchase your products is simply to align them with what already drove your customers to act! Every purchase decision on planet Earth is made because of one or more of the six emotional motives to buy. These are the desire to feel important, to feel independent, to feel rewarded, to feel responsible, to feel secure, and to feel loved. Customers don’t buy your products; they buy how they envision your products will make them feel! Understanding what fundamentally moves your customers empowers you to tailor your approach so that you are moving in the same direction and effectively speaking their language.
2: What made you want to buy today?
There are many reasons why your customers may have decided to take action and buy. Understanding the reasons behind their decision guarantees that you will be equipped to position your products in a way that is most compelling to them. For example, if your customers site anything to do with a promotion or payment as their main driver, then focusing on ways to protect their budget would surely resonate. However, if your customers site anything to do with the vehicle itself, then focusing on ways to improve their ownership experience would be wise. What happens if they say they don’t know why they bought? This is really just another way of saying “I bought because I could buy!” Which means that for them, it was all about the reward. With these customers, they don’t just want to have a great experience, they prefer a V.I.P. experience, and your F&I products can provide it!
3: What about your old vehicle are you most glad to be leaving behind you?
If your customers were completely happy and satisfied with their old vehicle, they likely would not be trading it in. Knowing what they’re most glad to be leaving behind, provides you with incredible insight into the areas where you could offer future piece of mind, and most improve their ownership experience overall. It is important to get specific! If your customers simply provide a generic answer like “I just want a vehicle that I can depend on,” then you will need to probe deeper and ask them exactly how their last vehicle was undependable. Otherwise, your customers will not see any urgency in preventing a similar situation. No one can visualize a clear picture of a vague idea, and if your customers can’t see it, you can be sure they won’t buy it!
4: Where did you go the last time you needed a vehicle repair?
Just about everyone has had to take a vehicle in for a repair at some point in the past. Be sure to follow this question up with asking your customers to tell you more about their experience. Leveraging these past experiences is extremely valuable in F&I. In fact, when explained properly, whether your customers’ past experiences were positive or negative, your solution will remain the intelligible choice in the end! If their experience with a prior repair was negative, your products offer a level of value that can provide piece of mind and solve a future problem. If their experience with a past repair was positive, then your products offer a level of value that ensures another great experience, and then some!
5: What are you most looking forward to doing with your new vehicle?
Customers can readily picture the things that they are most looking forward to. Many managers assume that their enthusiasm for their products will transfer to their customers, but ultimately it’s the customers’ mental picture that reigns supreme. We know that our F&I products not only help protect customers from a financial loss, but they also aid in providing superior experiences before, during, and after a loss! Despite this immense value, too many customers still just don’t get it! Sadly, it’s our fault. Face it, solely explaining the figures, features, and benefits associated with a particular product is not leading, and it’s certainly not selling. It’s one thing to explain a product, and it’s a completely different thing to bring that product to life by painting a picture that your customers can easily imagine and relate to. If you want to compel your customers to want a product that provides tremendous value before, during, and after a loss, then the ideal time to paint the picture of that value is at the time your customers are least wanting a loss.
Customer interviews are critical to building personal influence and becoming trusted advisors. If you have been avoiding customer interviews, it’s likely because they haven’t helped you serve and sell. Maybe you have been doing interviews, but you are not seeing the point. Every F&I manager wants to bring value, add value, and become a person of value! The last thing you need is customer resistance; and asking the wrong questions can no doubt destroy your opportunity! For better results, you need to ask better questions. Remember, the best questions are personal, the best questions build connections, and the best questions provide you with insights that can compel your customers to buy. If you want to be able to truly influence your customers’ purchasing decisions, start by meeting each customer where they are most comfortable, and then ask them the five questions above. In F&I, knowing your products is absolutely necessary and expected, but it is not what you know about your products that is most important, it is what you know about your customers!