Selling to the F&I Manager: Top 5 needs

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Debt is back baby! Money is chasing equipment deals like crazy which means equipment dealers are getting inundated with calls from funding sources. All you vendor folks are banging away and fighting like crazy to grab a bigger piece of each vendor’s funding puzzle or establish new relationships in an environment where almost everyone sounds and looks exactly the same.

As Dr. Phil would say, how’s that working for you?

The first step to really figuring out how to attack this finicky group of people is to as what does the larger dealer F&I manager want?  Based on our experience and annual research, the top 5 needs dealers ask for in funders…in order…are:

1. Great process

They didn’t ask for complete automation, self-service, apps on phones of every dealer rep, 10 second response times and 10 minute fundings. They did ask for a great, consistent, reliable process and while the aforementioned things might help, many dealers pointed to relationships that take longer and felt more personal as better funders than those that feel like “volume shops”.

2. Personal investment in the sales performance

“No technology takes the place of the personal connection with the company funding the deal.” Loved that response. Dealers often made reference to companies that solved equipment sales issues for them rather than just “asking for apps”. Face time does matter. The consultative sale and thought leadership of the company was of paramount importance when selecting a primary or secondary source.

3. Flexible programs

There was significant frustration with lenders that had great process, people and ideas, but a really tight credit and asset strike zone. 81% of F&I managers would happily go to a more expensive provider that might take longer if they could rely on that source to do a wider variety of deals. “Having A++ rates for the 720 and the brand new asset that is approved funding super quick is great, but less desirable than the source that can handle the range of deals that come across my desk”

4. Competitive offerings

Yes, rate matters, but notice it is number 4 on the list. As one F&I manager said, “Being lowest cost is never really my goal, but being competitive is necessary to success.” Package deals for multiple assets, rate promotions, combining new and used competitively, etc also help define a “competitive offering”

5. Speed

Time kills all deals. I’m sorry, this is less of an opinion and more of a fact. So the faster the process can help the dealer move the asset the better. But speed at the expense of consistently, reliability, diversity of offering and personal relationship management is not good.  Speed is important, but speed for speed’s sake is missing the point.

Vendor finance volumes are up across the board, but does that mean you are really winning more and competing better or riding an economic wind. I had an old boss in the business who used to say about some “quota busting” sales people that if the winds are blowing are hard enough, you can make a turkey fly like an eagle. So in these times of stronger winds, don’t be satisfied that things feel a little better, really dig in develop a differentiated message of how your company tells a UNIQUE story to each F&I manager. Capex is rollin’…so go get your unfair share. Marketing can play a really important role in educating new dealers on your value and driving more deals out of existing ones. If you ever wanna chat…give us a holler.

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