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Building a strategy to sell credit insurance

January 1, 2003
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In previous columns we’ve discussed the basics of credit insurance, the benefits for dealerships and consumer benefits of credit life insurance and credit disability insurance. In this column, we’ll discuss Steve’s strategy for selling credit insurance and his selling tips.
Here is Steve’s four-step strategy:
1. Steve would talk with the salesperson about the customer before the F&I introductions. He wanted to know not only what kind of customer he was going to meet, but what kind of predisposition that customer had toward insurance.
2. If Steve had a payment buyer, he would assume the credit insurance sale. Every quoted payment would automatically disclose both joint-life and disability insurance.
3. As you saw in the previous column on conversions, Steve would use credit insurance to build value in the dealer plan. He would convert cash customers by showing that a protected payment was much more secure than paying cash.
He would convert bank and credit union customers by talking about the add-on value of having their payments made while under their doctor’s care. While some business managers may shy away from selling credit insurance, Steve made credit insurance his selling ally.
4. Steve was very careful to disclose every contract. He clearly communicated that the credit insurance was optional.
Keys to selling insurance
Steve had several keys to successful selling of life and disability insurance. Here they are:
n Know your product. A thorough understanding of the product is absolutely necessary. Review the features and benefits. Know them so that you can answer any questions that your customers may have. Know specific phrases (words) that will help build more value in credit insurance.

  • Believe in your product. Remember Steve’s words, “You gotta believe.” Enthusiasm for the product will enhance the presentation. Your attitude is critical. It can really influence customers’ decisions.

  • Recognize opportunities. Be ready and able to handle the most common credit insurance objections. Turn negatives into positives by using the phrases we’ll be providing in these columns, or by developing your own words. Learn where to find technical answers to credit insurance questions that may arise in the future.
    Use the all-important “positive approach.” The business manager should automatically disclose the insurance cost when quoting the monthly loan payments to a customer. When the customer sees how little the cost of the coverage affects the payment, a business manager is well on the way to success.

  • Practice. The opportunity to offer credit insurance comes with each borrower. A brief explanation about credit insurance should be offered. Like everything else, the more frequently a business manager offers the coverage, the easier it will become.

SELLING TIPS
I remember asking Steve how he learned to sell F&I so well. His response was simple, “There is no substitute for practice and experience.” He went on to say that practice doesn’t make perfect…perfect practice makes perfect.
Steve stressed that you must develop good habits early in the F&I arena. If you discipline yourself to talk customer benefits from the beginning, this habit will stay with you. I learned that if you’re going to do it right, you need to practice right, because practice makes permanent.
Here are some things every business manager should practice to improve credit insurance sales:

  • Have a positive attitude. Believe that every customer needs coverage. Be optimistic — envision only success. Assume that your customers want you to persuade them to take the coverage. However, remember that the customer has the right to refuse. Don’t hard-sell.

  • Become thoroughly familiar with the details and coverage provided in the program.
    n Be natural. Develop and use sincere rapport.

  • Be a good listener and learn from your customers. What are their backgrounds? What are their current needs? Who (borrower/co-borrower) dominates the decision? What aspect of your personality should be emphasized in order to “align” yourself with the answers to the above?
  • Keep an eye out for buying signals (especially the emotions).
  • Match your moods to customers’ moods.
  • Focus on your customers’ needs.
  • Include coverage in every payment quote.
  • Listen first, then think, then speak.
  • Be honest — never exaggerate.
  • Give benefits of the program, not just features. Practice pushing customer “hot buttons.”
  • Give examples of customers who have benefited from coverage. Tell about unfortunate situations where insurance would have made a big difference in the outcome.
  • Save one solid benefit for the end.
  • As a last resort, give customers a brochure on the insurance program to review at home (especially if they have to sell someone else at home).

Gart Sutton is president of Gart Sutton & Associates, Newport, Calif. He specializes in providing sales training to individuals in powersports and automotive companies. He’s the author of The Professional’s Guide to Selling New & Used Vehicles. For more information contact Gart Sutton at gart@gartsutton.com

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