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3 reasons why it’s important to cross train sales & F&I

Cross training can provide benefits for both departments, including empathy, better deals and stronger hiring.

Cross training in any business setting is always looked at as an important part of helping the entire team not only understand more about what one person or team must do to fulfill the mission of a company but also to help foster a stronger sense of teamwork.

Dealers are no exception. 

Departments within dealerships are often siloed into their own unique space for their unique job requirements. Sales only knows how to sell cars; parts personnel only know how to sell parts and so on. Same for F&I…they only focus on one job.

But there are two departments that are equally dependent on each other for their success at dealerships and the argument could be made that the opportunity for cross training between them is critical now more than ever.

F&I and sales…perfect frenemies?

Why can’t sales and F&I be more than adversaries on either side of a deal? 

In a perfect world, sales and F&I should be working in concert with each other. The interdependency is highlighted by what each must do to bring the buyer from the lot to the sales desk, to the F&I office, and over the curb. You can’t do one without the involvement of the other.

Decades have not been kind to this relationship. Sales feels like F&I is out to make every deal more difficult to get approved and F&I complains about either missing docs or unrealistic expectations shared on the sales floor. It’s a never-ending cycle that often will be evident to the buyers themselves watching the obvious tension.

Cross training F&I and sales – How to make it work

Fosters Better Empathy 

Having salespeople and F&I learn how the other works each day fosters a stronger overall relationship. A salesperson who now gets to see all the steps in delivering a vehicle that are controlled by regulatory compliance may not be so quick to complain the next time a deal takes longer to come out of F&I due to a more complex set of circumstances.

Likewise, the F&I manager who gets aggravated with salespeople quoting payment or VSC estimated costs can see that sometimes a difficult buyer might need more information before being willing to move through with the sale. Both jobs have unique stressors and if each are trained in the other, they come with a more informed perspective.

Sales handoff to F&I improves

Better deals coming from the floor to the F&I office is always the primary goal. If Sales and F&I are cross trained, it will be easier for those deals to come in the right way first and always be set up for solid PVR. 

If Sales understands how F&I presents and sells on a deal, and the delicate balance in managing the buyer’s payment wishes with the reality behind credit and solid approvals, a better deal is constructed with those products in mind.

Conversely, F&I can be trained in how the sales flow goes from the lot/call-in to the walk around/test drive, through to the price negotiation and competitive nature of simply keeping them on the lot and not going to another dealer in town.

Stronger hiring

Cross training the sales and F&I staff has another surprising benefit…it helps make it easier to hire from within. You can more easily identify staff that can make the jump from sales to F&I if they successfully completed a cross training program. They are ready to take that next logical step and their learning curve is greatly improved.

You could also have an F&I manager who wants to transition to sales for better hours, better compensation, and a more dynamic day working with new customers. Now that transition is easier, they now know all that goes into selling a car from cradle to grave. 

Maybe you have a salesperson who’s rapidly approaching burnout and is looking to make the professional jump into F&I. Having that advanced knowledge of that position from the inside helps give them a more informed idea of what to expect.

Cross training here can help HR better prioritize in-house candidates first before looking for outside hires. It’s always better to promote from within for both morale and a more consistent customer experience overall.

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Kristine Cain
Kristine Cain
Kristine Cain is a contributing writer for CBT News. She has over 26 years of experience in the automotive industry specializing in F&I and B2B sales.

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