Channel | Industry

Role-Play Your Way to Success

Agents who add role-playing to their training curriculum will be rewarded with better-prepared and more productive F&I teams.
By: John Vecchioni

Role-Play Your Way to Success

Opportunity meets those who are most prepared for its arrival. Those who are prepared with knowledge are prepared for success. This definitely rings true in dealerships and the various customer groups that come in daily. Investing the time to learn about products and customers will enable agents to more effectively prepare the F&I professionals they train to answer customers’ questions and facilitate their needs.

But what about the difficult customers or the personality type some business managers have trouble with? What about the idea or thought that comes after the customer has already left? What might they have said or done differently? Role-playing is one discipline that is seldom practiced, but can bring large dividends to the sales process.

Taking the Stage

I know how most F&I managers feel: Role-playing is as exciting as a visit to the DMV. However, those who practice this form of “warmup” have found customers are much easier on them then their coworkers. Role-playing is just one of those things we do not like to do. But why?

Typically, the opinion is that it is a waste of time. However, it does not have to be. Some of the most effective results from role-playing can actually occur when you isolate particular parts of the sales process. Focusing on steps instead of the entire process allows you to truly practice and perfect the steps your teams may need to improve.

In addition, you will not waste time going through sections they have already mastered. For example, you can practice fact-finding, presenting the benefits of a product, trial close questions, objection-handling, or some creative closes. Role-playing also gives business managers an opportunity to practice with someone who is much more equipped to create obstacles to the sale than any customer they may encounter.

Since our peers have encountered a wide variety of customers, they can roll all of those experiences into one for a great role-play exercise. Think about it: The odds of actually meeting one customer with so many different roadblocks, questions and objections is highly unlikely. Be sure to take advantage of the great resources you have sitting right next to you to help you prepare for success!

We are very aware of customers’ questions, responses, and objections that we hear on the lot and in the business office:

  • “This is the first place I stopped.”
  • “I just started looking.”
  • “I never buy that.”
  • “I have the money to take care of problems.”

We hear these responses every day. However, how we typically respond to these frequent statements may be entirely different than how our peers respond. Furthermore, their responses could possibly be more effective. Role-playing with peers or management provides a broad perspective in responding to customer questions and concerns.

Some of your F&I managers’ coworkers may have the ability to deal with certain personalities differently, and possibly with more rapport, than you can. What is it that they do? Role-play and find out how they manage their way around and through difficult or confused customers.

Don’t Forget to Stretch

Some minor observations have discovered that role-playing each day before meeting the first customer has resulted in a more productive encounter. It is like watching your favorite football team warming up before the game. In fact, their offense and defense has role-played against the opposing team all week to prepare. They are prepared for anything that they may encounter and respond to it positively.

Salespeople and business managers have that same opportunity to prepare every day to ensure their success with customers. Why not take advantage of a simple warmup to help improve your performance? The fact is, we all have similar experiences and often hear the same responses from customers. Why not utilize the various success stories your peers have experienced in your own culture? It makes no difference if you are role-playing in the finance office or the sales process; everyone benefits.

Vendors who provide products and services to the dealership are also good resources for role-playing. Ask your vendors what they have seen from other dealerships’ top producers. What are they saying and doing to sell their products?

Success is duplicable and imitation is the highest form of flattery. When learning new ways to respond to old questions, you have to internalize and personalize your responses. The best way to grow as a professional is to continue to learn from not only the trainers and coaches, but from your peers and vendors as well. Be ready and meet your customers with certainty and confidence. Be a team player and help your peers by sharing your success stories. Role-play your way to success!

This article was written by:

- has written 13 posts on Agent Entrepreneur.

John Vecchioni has written 13 posts on Agent Entrepreneur. John is an F&I Trainer for American Financial & Automotive Services, Inc. F&I University. John provides real-world F&I training experience and solutions to dealer partners across the country. Contact the author.

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The views expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Agent Entrepreneur or any employee thereof.

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