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The Science of the F&I Sale

Our training division is often asked, “What is the best word track for…?” We always respond, “Who is giving the objection?” The reason we seem to be answering a question with a question has more to do with behavioral science than sarcasm.

The best sales people we encounter seem to have a knack for building relationships. The fact is they’re using their keen sense of behavioral awareness. It’s not just genetic; a great deal of science is behind the ability to connect with almost any customer.
In all of our training programs, we incorporate behavioral science using the DISC Personality System. Research has shown that behavioral characteristics can be grouped together in four major categories. People with similar styles tend to exhibit specific behavioral characteristics common to that style. All people share these four styles in varying degrees of intensity:
D: Dominant, Driver
I: Influencing, Inspiring
S: Steady, Stable
C: Correct, Compliant

Knowledge of the DISC Personality System can empower a sales professional to understand consumers in a profound way. Understanding behavioral styles helps one to become a better communicator, thus increasing the ability to positively influence the outcome of a negotiation.

When we ask an F&I manager to role-play a scenario, they almost always portray a forceful and strong-willed client. When we ask how often they experience a client with this disposition, they respond 50 to 80 percent of the time, but statistics show that only 3 percent of the population has a natural propensity to this behavior. So why do sales professionals experience such a high ratio of “D” style personalities?

A client is simply responding with a defensive mechanism toward salespeople. High “D” people are often described as demanding, forceful, egocentric, strong willed, driving, determined, ambitious and aggressive. We have all seen a TV show where the savvy attorney or businessman wins a negotiation by folding their arms and calmly saying “it’s my deal or no deal,” right? When people feel vulnerable, they run or get ready to fight, regardless of their normal disposition. This is called the fight-or-flight response.

Our research showed the salesperson failed to lower the consumer’s natural defenses before they attempted to close. The first two steps of any sales process are the greet and the probe. If we fail to understand the person before selling the product, we will get directly to price, and we won’t like it!

In the F&I world, the best time for the greet and probe is during the client interview. This takes place outside of the business office, on the showroom floor. The F&I Interview can make or break your F&I penetration and profitability. If your sales process does not allow for this step, you are probably using the wrong language 97 percent of the time. For more on the Interview, click here.

During our F&I Certification Courses, we have the attendees take a seven-minute DISC assessment. At the end of this assessment, the participant receives a 16-24 page report on their personality and how they react in a variety of situations. The room is always silent when the class realizes they were just totally pinned down in seven minutes. We do this exercise to prove validity of the science, and we get everyone’s attention for the real learning.

We then discuss the differences in the room and segue to identifying different personality types, without a scientific questionnaire. We can actually identify someone’s primary drivers in less than five minutes of conversation if we pay attention. Most untrained salespeople simply don’t know how to identify and use the information that is right in front of them.

Once we understand the consumer, we can effectively mirror their personality style. In the retail world, the product is a commodity.
Other than the VIN and price, the consumer’s experience is the only difference between your dealership and your competition. If your staff fails to make that connection, price will be the only focal point. If that happens, the winning dealership loses the most money.

There are two truths that make the science of behavior important to our business:
1. People like people like them.
2. People buy from people they like.

We will be uncovering more behavioral science selling principles over the next few issues. The takeaway from this series should be that people knowledge will trump product knowledge any day of the week. Give your sales and F&I staff an education in relationships if you want to significantly grow your business.

RPMOne is a leading provider of F&I products and dealer development services dedicated to serving the powersports market. Due to its comprehensive experience with dealerships, lenders and insurance companies, RPMOne has created top-tier F&I programs, web-based tools, training programs, and sales and marketing systems to meet the unique demands of the industry. RPMOne’s mission is to increase client profit to its fullest potential.

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