It is so cliche to try to compare sports to business, but in the case of sales there are a lot of parallels.

I am sitting here watching the Cubs play the Cardinals, and the Cubs are shredding the Cardinals pitching.  It is the top of the 2nd, and it is 7-0.  The Cubs are hitting all the way through the lineup, and that got me thinking about how baseball players, especially in the National League where the pitchers are in the lineup and get an at-bat, baseball players are professional hitters, just like a salesperson is a professional seller.

steps of a swingThis I know from my experience around the game of baseball; depending on the coaching philosophy a baseball players swing is 3, 4, 5, 6 and sometimes even 7 steps.  As a matter of fact, as players become more advanced in their abilities a lot of times coaches will take a player who had a 3-step swing and make it into a 4 or 5-step swing.  This makes it easier to isolate places in the swing that need work.

Do you think a baseball player ever skips one of the steps in their swing?  Of course not, they are professional hitters.  Why then do sales people skip steps in their sales process, if they are professional sellers?

How ever many steps there are in your particular sales process, make sure you stick to it and execute every one of them.


Customer says, “I don’t need that warranty; this is a great car…”

We say, “I understand, ________ makes a great vehicle.  It’s hard to pay for something if you’re not going to use it.  To see if this might have some value to you, could I ask you a question?”

“If you had health insurance and life insurance, which would you rather use?” (DUH)

“Kind of obvious, huh?  If you use the health insurance the right way and enough times, you hopefully prolong the time it takes your beneficiary to use your life insurance.  What we’re talking about here is not a ‘life insurance’ policy for your vehicle, it’s ‘heath insurance’.  Let me give you an example, I had customer who was a technician at an automotive shop, someone who I wouldn’t expect to purchase a service agreement, quite honestly.  He told me that he always purchases a service contract because that way he is always driving a vehicle with new parts.”

(Assumptive close)  “Here is what I want you to do; every time your bring your vehicle in for your routine maintenance, I want you to make sure you tell your service adviser that you have the Platinum Care Service Agreement.  Those guys work on commission and what you have just done is give him an open checkbook.  He knows that no matter what he finds wrong with your vehicle, you are going to be out of pocket your deductible so he is going to look for parts that are wearing out, worn out or might wear out in the near future.  Anything that he can justify to the insurance company replacing.  No matter what he finds, he knows that it’s good news for you.”

“Don’t buy it if you’re not going to use it, but if you don’t use it, you’ll be wasting your money.”

(Re-close)  “Now, did you want your payments to start in the middle of the month, or closer to the end?”


There are some things that a customer will say that make your heart leap with pride.  When I was a sales person on the floor, I knew that I had done a good job identifying my customer’s needs, matching them to the car that met those needs and making sense of the numbers when my customer would say, “I’m going to have to go home and get my checkbook.  I didn’t intend on buying a car today.”  That’s just a job well done.  We have a hard enough time selling customer’s who intend to buy, it’s really the top of our game to help a customer who legitimately did not intend to purchase.

In F&I, the equivalent to that phrase about the checkbook, for me anyway, is the customer who walks out of my office and says, “No one ever explained it to me that way before.”  Oh, the bliss!

I had a customer a couple of weeks ago who was trading in a 7-year old Passat with about 47,000 miles that they had bought new.  The driver, the wife, was a school speech therapist in a small town, and the only driving she did was from home to one of the schools in town; 3 elementary schools, 3 middle schools and 2 high schools. They were looking at a Hyundai Elantra, new, and were considering a lease.

The sales manager who worked the deal brought me the folder and said, “These people want to do a 36-month lease.  They aren’t going to buy anything.”  I took that as a challenge.  I went out and sat down at the sales person’s desk where the customers were waiting to finish their paperwork, and started my interview. “You are replacing a 7-year old Passat with…47,000 miles??  What do you do that you only drive 47,000 miles?”  She told me her story.  “You seem to keep your cars for a long time, would you mind telling me, out of my own curiosity, why you are considering a lease?”

“We don’t know if we’ll want to keep this car for that long” was the reply.

“That is an excellent strategy.  If you were to purchase, your term would have to be much longer to achieve the same payment as a lease.  You know what your options are with that 36th payment, right?  You can sell it and pocket the difference if your vehicle is worth more than the residual, you can trade it in and apply that difference to your next car, or you can refinance the residual and keep paying on the vehicle until it is paid off.  If your vehicle is not worth the amount of your residual, you can bring it back and drop off the keys and let the bank take the hit in depreciation.”

“Yes, that is why we are leasing.”

I love educated consumers.

I went through my presentation, using a graph illustration and the warranty handbook from the owner’s manual packet, to demonstrate what is covered and what is not covered.  They decided on the 5-year/75,000 mile service contract, prepaid maintenance, the PDR policy, the Windshield and the Road Hazard protection.  When I presented my menu and asked her to pick an option, she looked down and chose Option 4 and said, “No one ever explained those products to me that way before.”  It was awesome!

Here is what I told her:

That VSC is not just for failures, it is also to keep your car running good, and to make sure that your vehicle always has all new parts on it.  Those technicians work on commission and when you tell them that you have the Platinum VSA, they will know that no matter what they find wrong with your vehicle, you will only be out of pocket your deductible.  They are going to look extra hard to find parts that are worn out, wearing out or about to start wearing out; anything they can justify to the warranty company fixing, they will fix.  Not only will your car run better longer, don’t you think with all of those repair orders from our service department that your vehicle will be worth more when you bring it back in?

The PDR and Windshield policy will keep your car looking new.  Every time you bring it in for your routine maintenance, just make sure that you tell the service adviser that you have the PDR and the Windshield protection and he will walk your vehicle and make a note of any damage that can be repaired.  Then, he will schedule a time for you to bring the vehicle in to let our PDR and Windshield repair tech pop those dents and dings out, and repair any small chips, cracks and stars in your windshield.  That not only keeps your vehicle looking nice and new, it will save you from an excess wear and tear charges if you decide to turn the vehicle in rather than keep it or trade it.  Also, since your vehicle will look better at the end of your lease term, won’t it be worth more?

The road hazard protection is the best value on the menu.  If you go to a tire store and buy 4 new tires, the technician is going to ask you if you want that road hazard policy.  Most policies sold by tire retailers are 12 month/12,000 mile policies that cover only that tire.  They will repair tires damaged by road hazard, and if you blow out a tire and it is not repairable, they will replace it with another tire, prorated.  And the price of all of that is only $12-$15 per tire.  Our tire and wheel policy covers your tire and your wheel, unlimited claims, unlimited miles and is a $0 out of pocket expense to you if you ever do have a repair.  It also covers your wheel so if you hit something and bend of break a wheel, it’s covered.  If they can fix it, they’ll fix it, and if they can’t fix it they’ll replace it with a brand new tire or rim or both, and we all know that the wheels are much more expensive than the tires.  All that is covered for only $27 per tire and wheel per year.  (Think about it; $27 x 4 tires and wheels = $108 x 5 years = $540 price of the protection)

I assume the maintenance in the description of the VSC, they are right above and below one another on my menu.

“No one ever explained those options to me that way before.”  What a great compliment.

Stay green!


Customer says, “I had one of these warranties, and it didn’t cover what broke.”

This is a tough one!

“I understand completely, we hear customer’s saying things like that all the time.  That makes you feel like you wasted your money, right?

Do you mind if I ask you a quick question?  Do you feel like it is possible for all the parts of a car to fail at once?”

Of course not.  (Click the image above to download this form in a PDF)  This shows the total replacement cost of all the major components on an average car.  This form states the total cost; parts and labor, if each of these parts failed.  See that number there?  ($14,127)

How much of that figure do you think the average service agreement would cover?  $5,000?  Do you think that $5,000 worth of coverage is for parts that normally fail?  Probably not, right?

Unfortunately, you’re right.  And we have a plan very much like that, it’s called the Silver Plan.  It’s available, but I never present it because of stories just like yours, and our dealership has been in business way to long to do that to even one customer.  The way that I learned to use a service agreement is ‘health insurance’ not ‘life insurance’.  Let me show you what I mean.

With Package 1, if that number at the bottom of the sheet is accurate over the next 5 years, as long as you told me you were going to own your car, it’s covered, and you’re protecting $14,127 for just $3 per day.

To get my money’s worth, most of my customer’s would bring their vehicle in as many times as possible.  By purchasing the Toyota Financial Services Platinum Plan and Option 1, you can do that too.

Remember you told me that if it was cost-effective, you’d do your maintenance here at the dealership.  When I get my maintenance done, I intend to make money.

Every time I bring my vehicle in for maintenance, I tell my service adviser that I purchased Option 1.  Now, he’s looking for not only mechanical parts that have failed, but parts that are failing, or looking like they might fail in the future.  Anything he can justify to the warranty company to cover, it’s gonna be covered.

Not only that, any dents and dings, stars, chips or cracks in my windshield, or if I damage to my tires and wheels, it will all be covered.  If they’re damaged and we can fix ’em, we’re gonna fix ’em.  No money out of our pocket, every time.

He’s gonna give me back a vehicle that looks and runs new, with all new parts, every time I come in.

And, I know that I have increased my resale value, so when I bring my car in here for trade, I’m going to get more for it since it has been so well maintained, inside and out.

If you are not going to use it, don’t buy it; but didn’t you tell me that your _____ that you are replacing didn’t have any major damage, just your basic dents and dings?   Don’t you think you would have gotten more for that vehicle if it looked new and had all new parts?  It really only makes sense, doesn’t it?

I couldn’t agree more.  Did you want to use a middle initial in the titling of your new vehicle, or not?

A-A-A Close

Customer says, “I don’t want any products, I can’t afford for my payment to go up any more.”

“I understand.  Many of my customers have said the exact same thing.  It’s hard to pay for something that you don’t think you have a use for.  Can I ask you a quick question? ”

“You’ve heard of A-A-A (Triple-A), the American Automotive Association?  It’s the largest automotive club in the world.”

“The Triple-A did a study to find out the actual cost of ownership for the average car in America.  That number is based on the price of the car, the taxes, title and license, annual registration, fuel, maintenance…all the factors that go into the total cost of ownership of an average American automobile; and that figure is .51 cents per mile.”

“Do you know the one expense that they could not include in that equation?  The cost of repairs to failed or damaged parts and components.”

“The protection we are talking about with Option 1 will cover you for as long as you told me that you would own your vehicle; 100,000 miles, which works out to (take the total cost of the package divided by 100,000 miles). $4,000/100,000=.04 cents per mile.”

“With Option 2, your vehicle will have all the protection with Option 1 for only about .03 cents per mile, however you will forfeit the Credit Life and Disability Protection, so “Margaret (who you told me you wanted to receive the free and clear title)”   will be responsible for paying off your new vehicle in the event of your death,  and if you were to become sick or injured and unable to work, you will be responsible for making your payment from your savings or other moneys.  Also, you will forfeit the Lojack benefit so if your vehicle is stolen, there is no real way for the police to locate it other than to get lucky.”

“If you are going to spend .51 cents per mile anyway, doesn’t just .04 cents per mile make sense to spend to keep your vehicle, your income and your good credit protected.  It is your good credit that is allowing you to make this purchase today, isn’t it?  I couldn’t agree more.”

“Did you want to start your payment in the middle of the month or closer to the end?”

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