Missed Tells, Staplers and Mobile Phones

Posted by Erik Landrum on April 12, 2019 in F&I Selling Strategies, General Communication Skills, Objection Handling

Do all our Guests immediately understand what we are sharing with them? Unfortunately, of course the answer is “No!”

This applies to even the most effective communicators, among us. We may take for granted that what we have just reviewed is self-explanatory. But remember, our Guests don’t do this everyday, and they may just be a little stressed out, to boot.

This is particularly applicable to our menu presentation. The objection may be stated just as we finish our first column overview. Maybe we are allowed to review the entire menu, before the objection is tabled. Ultimately, though, it happens…our Guest responds with, “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly afford that”, or some similar sentiment.

We may be prone to misinterpreting this statement because people (in this case, our Guest(s)), who find themselves in stressful situations, may go to some length to avoid displaying any confusion. The usual “tells” may be missing. As a result, we may misidentify the problem as an objection where it is nothing more than a communication error.

Naturally, the next thing that happens may be a flurry of objection-handling techniques that would, otherwise, be completely avoided if the real problem were identified. Almost weekly, when sitting in with Business Managers (many of whom are very seasoned, capable individuals), I see this issue occur.

What’s really happening?

Very often our Guests think the payment, at the bottom of the menu column, is in addition to the base payment! Therefore, perhaps we could consider the implementation of a nearly automatic, communication-enhancing response, before any closing retorts. We’ll use this, regardless of what we think the objection may be.

“Michael, I’ve to GREAT news! The payment you see here is your TOTAL payment INCLUDING your new vehicle!!”

Once said, don’t be surprised to hear Michael respond, “Oh..I thought that was in addition to that payment” while he refers to the column payment plus the base payment.

I’ll probably even follow his statement with something along the lines of, “Oh no, it’s nearly half as much. Certainly that will work for you?”

As stated earlier, I see this with tremendous regularity so it may be happening (as hard as it may be to accept) with your Guests, as well. Seek to clarify the communication before attacking a problem that MAY NOT exist.

After we have verified that what we have is not a communication miscue, we will seek to share ideas with our Guests. An effective educational reference I used to see, with more regularity, is the stapler.

“Michael, if you’ll allow me to use an analogy…not very long ago, we could have possibly considered many of the systems on a typical vehicle not dissimilar from this stapler, at least from a diagnostic and repair point of view. In other words, if this stapler jams and quits working, we open it up” (stated while opening your stapler) “see the jam, and repair the issue. Now” (stated while placing your mobile phone under your stapler) “it practically takes one of these to run your stapler, so to speak! The level of computerized sophistication that may be involved, in your new vehicle, has reached never before seen levels. Unfortunately, we can’t open this up“ (referencing the mobile phone) ”like we do the stapler, to see the jam. In fact, it may be very hard to even determine which of the many computerized systems is responsible for the fault, leading to expensive diagnostic charges. Our labor rate is $1xx per hour! Once the failure is identified, you can probably guess what the related expenses will be, where parts are concerned.”

And while we’re on the subject of mobile phones, you have probably noticed them holding theirs. Does it have a case? Do you offer a Protection Package, of any kind? What is the typical price of a mobile phone, currently…$800? What is a good case…$50? That’s one-sixteenth the price of the phone! Chances are, you can offer a much better cost/benefit ratio (for their new vehicle) related to your Protection Package. Phones are far less expensive to replace, than vehicles, after all!

Think about it. Clarify, then implement.

Give it a try.

Good luck and good selling!

Erik Landrum
F&I Performance Coach at Conley Insurance Group

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