Phone selling F&I in the times of COVID-19 and beyond

Powersports Business contributor Rob Greenwald offers insight into selling finance and insurance products over the phone, during COVID-19 and beyond.

By Rob Greenwald, Contributing writer

Currently we are in a different time. Some dealerships have closed, some remain open in limited capacities, and some have had to change up their sales approaches to just continue to do business. There are always ways to deal with adversity and the strong will survive. Always remember that a piece of pie is always better than no pie at all!

Having good phone skills is paramount in any aspect of selling. You are removing the visual aspect of a sale, which, when selling an intangible, greatly raises the bar because you have no sales aids or illustrated examples.

 Also, your buyer is unable to see the sincerity of your presentation that is aimed at giving them a better ownership experience through protections. And, you are also unable to monitor the buyer’s expressions to reengage in your process. One can choose to evolve or fail, so let’s look at some best practices to being successful on a phone-based F&I system.

In need of more insight on how your dealership can capitalize on closing sales over the phone? Check out the Powersports Business Video Chat from April 2020.

First and foremost is to make sure that you separate the selling of the machine and the F&I to two completely different phone calls, and be sure that each department handles its aspect of the sale and does not infringe on the other. To maintain maximum effectiveness and profitability, the salesperson sells the machine and the business manager presents the financing and protections.

The best approach on a finance deal is to have the sales rep take the credit app and pass the baton by saying something like, “I will turn your credit application over to the business manager/name, who will get your loan approval handled with the lenders and will call you back here shortly with exact terms and options for you. Our business manager/name will be able to answer any questions and get everything wrapped up so we can get you out riding and enjoying your new machine.” 

This gives the sales rep an easy out and puts the work in the hands of the professional to finish the deal. A slight change in verbiage for a cash customer would be to explain that the business manager must go over certain legal disclosures and finalize all the arrangements for the actual payment for the vehicle.

Now we move on to the business manager. Here we want to ensure that we have an initial qualifying and fact finding with the customer so we can do better verbal presentation to the consumer.

It starts with a warm introduction and getting to know the customer through a little Q&A. Then getting the customer’s email and saying something like, “I am going to email you some options and information for us to review on your loan and loan terms so we can set you up for the best ownership experience possible!”

Then the manager should email a custom menu or available protection sheet with some benefits and options to the buyer so they can review together on the phone, and any other supporting material for the phone presentation. It is very important to include both term options for the financing and for the protections you are offering.

Your goal is to have choices so you are selling “which works better for you,” then the more binary “Yes” or “No” approach. Remember that different terms also provide flexibility and create value.

When presenting your F&I protections on the phone, it is paramount to verbalize key benefits of the product in detail and how the customer can benefit from it, especially in how it relates to the customer’s planned ownership experience as we have divulged through good qualifying. This is where the real value to incite purchase is established. It is also very important to verbalize examples of claims, failures and scenarios with accurate numbers to help create greater value.

Ethics and professionalism are of the utmost importance, so addressing any question directly as soon as the buyer presents them should happen without hesitation; alas, being well versed in your products is crucial. Then reassurance and reverting back to the potential benefits and impacts will always help to strengthen the close.

You should always ask yourself these two key questions: “Am I creating value?”; and “Am I creating comfort and assurance to my customer?” when selling, especially over the phone. You are not looking eye-to-eye with the buyer, so it is important to be cognizant of your voice inflection, conversational interaction and receptiveness to what the buyer has to say.

Also, creating the time of sale sense of urgency (especially on products that are only available at P.O.S.) and the fact that many of these protections are more palatable as part of a payment should be discussed. Be sure to incorporate any possible time of sale discounts or incentives.

Finally, assuring them it is better to get it and forget about it until all of a sudden you need it — than to procrastinate and miss an opportunity that could help dodge a financial bullet or create convenience down the road — are also great discussion points.

With potential extra time on your hands in the dealership it is important to practice your verbal skills. Sit back-to-back (no eye contact) with fellow employees and do presentations and have them critique you on your knowledge, effectiveness in delivery, sound of your voice and ability to answer questions. This type of role play will help tremendously.

In conclusion, not only does making this effort to do phone F&I create the great opportunity and profitability we all need right now, but it will also help you tremendously in your sales skill as we eventually return to normal.

Rob Greenwald is the president of Powersport Solution, a powersports dealership consultancy that lands him at dozens of dealerships annually for in-person F&I and sales training. These days, dealerships are finding his services equally effective via phone call or video conference. Contact him at powersportfi@aol.com.