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Closing The Skeptical Customer

Tips on selling extended service plans in tough times

June 2008 By Nancy Klosek
Maximizing a product sale nowadays means attaching an extended service plan, which is often challenging in this age of the penny-conscious, Internet-educated consumer. Sales associates need to be prepared with the right customer-qualifying gambits, all the necessary background information to answer questions simply and accurately, and a logical defense strategy to fend off arguments against spending a little extra now to avoid spending a lot more later. Some of the industry’s key executives spoke to us about how to perfect the art of the warranty sale. Tune in for Part II next month.

What are the best strategies retail salespeople can use to deflect the criticism and close the warranty/ESP sale?

n Matt Frankel, AIG: It goes back to showing why a customer would want to buy it, rather than trying to defend against why a customer shouldn’t buy it. We’re selling benefits to the consumer. Some may think that, ‘Well, if a unit fails, I can get it fixed and it doesn’t cost me anything,’ as the benefit. Other customers would say, ‘Gee, I really don’t know who to go to, so this is an 800 number of qualified people who can take care of my problem,’ as the benefit. Or others may say, ‘This is a technology product. I may not understand how to use it correctly.’ We can give the customer information on that—its benefits above and beyond what might be covered under a manufacturer’s warranty.

n Bruce Saulnier, AMT: The first thing to understand in expectations about selling warranties is that not everybody buys one. And you know what? I’m cool with that. Thirty percent who come in are going to buy if offered, 30 percent are going to say no all the time because they’re just predisposed to not buy warranties, and then you have those 40 percent on the fence. So how do you overcome some of the things you hear? Well, the first thing you have to do is train. Then train some more, and then train again! People will only buy from people that they believe understand what they are trying to sell. If you’re going to buy anything today, and the salesmen are stuttering and stammering and don’t know when the warranty begins and when it ends, and what it does and doesn’t cover, no one’s going to buy because they won’t feel confident in what they’re actually purchasing. If they can’t explain it to you, how do you know it’s what you’re hoping you’ll receive?
 

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