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The rate question is something a lot of salespeople dread. You’ve put in the time and you’ve put your best foot forward. As a salesperson, we know we are going to get this question. So what do we do? 

Sometimes delaying the answer and moving forward together is the right move. Think of it this way, if they are asking questions like that, it at least means they are thinking about purchasing.

So let’s talk about progressing to the next stage of your deal without diving too deep into any one topic. In this case, the interest rate. By the time end, you should be looking forward to the interest rate question, and you should be happy because you know that it means your customer is ready to move forward with you! 

One aspect of financing that salespeople always tend to struggle with is discussing rates with customers. It is easy to say, “Never discuss rates with customers before obtaining a credit application,” but it is more difficult in practice. There are a few things you can do to make this conversation less awkward. 

First, your goal should always be to get a credit application without attempting to provide too much uninformed  information. Always put the customer’s “finance” question back on them and offer to answer it if they fill out a credit application. Again use his or her question as a closing tool. 

“Sure Mr. Customer, I am happy to get you an exact answer for that question, let’s fill out a credit application real fast.” 

You can also use this time to sell your dealerships value through financing offerings. The word track for this is very simple: 

“Mr. Customer, did we mention that almost all of our customers finance? We have one of the most amazing finance teams around. Over the years we have created the best banking relationships with lenders that only focus on recreational products. They truly know boats/RV’s. Most banks, if they even offer boat/RV financing, do it as an afterthought. Their terms including down payment requirements, length of term, and even the hoops they make you jump through can be ridiculous. Since our banks focus only on recreational lending, we have the very best likelihood of getting you the best possible terms the market has to offer!”

Some salespeople seem to feel almost guilty about not saying what rates currently were when a customer asked. They might be thinking if the customer said they had great credit, it was safe to give a rate range. In reality though, customers do not always have a good grasp of their credit position. 

A customer may claim an 800 credit score but then end up really having something in the low 700s. Furthermore, they might forget about a settled account they had from 6 years ago or a debt to income problem because they don’t claim all of their income on taxes. These instances make you realize the range you should be quoting, to be safe, is actually 4.99-17.95. Let’s face it, giving a range of 4.99-17.95 isn’t helpful. With no credit report, you really do not know what their rate or terms will be. You could do nothing but financing every day like the business managers here at First Approval Source do, and you still wouldn’t have enough information to give the customer a true accurate rate until you have a credit report.  

It’s funny, when they are quoting customers a sales price on a boat, generally most sales people will make sure they are as accurate as possible down to the penny. They sure as heck would not quote a price that could be potentially $5,000 off because it could derail the deal in the end. For some reason though, people are comfortable “ballparking” rates. On a 20 year note, a tenth of a percent change to the interest rate can cost the customer over $10,000 in interest over the life of the loan. You can see how “ballparking” rate can be as crazy as “ballparking” a sales quote now. 

Now let’s talk about your neighbor, Joe Blow Dealer down the street quoting impossible rates.  We can’t control what our neighbors do, say or quote our customers. And sometimes, they can make our lives very difficult.  If the customer’s answer is anything about a quote from a competitor, online lender, or local credit union, you have to make sure they are comparing apples to apples. To do this, say the following word track:

“Mr. Customer, from my experience, the online rates are more of “come-ons” and sometimes even bait and switch. By the time you finish submitting your credit information, jumping through hoops with sending them collateral information the rate jumps up, the down payment increases, and the terms shorten. I very seldom see my customers go with financing outside of our dealership. Like I said though, if anyone can get you the best terms, it is our dealership and our connections.” …


“By the way did your “other lending source” happen to say what you would need in order to get actual approval terms? Do they need a credit application…or personal financial statement…or proof of income? How about the deal structure and all of the manufacturer invoices from the dealer? Did they ask for a marine certified NAMS/SAMS survey? Most of the time, banks that do not do boat loans very often require all types of stipulations because they just don’t have very much experience in this market.”


The point of all these word tracks is not to say don’t quote rate. We provided this information to demonstrate ways to explain to the customer why quoting rate without a credit report is a disservice to them. Almost every customer is going to try and ask what rates are. If you can reframe the rate conversation to make it a closing tool, it will help, not hurt your sales process. Furthermore, if your team does a great job explaining the features and benefits of your finance offerings you can separate your dealership from the rest of the pack. 

Contact us if you would like to discuss this further.  We provide free one on one finance consultations that deep dive into your F&I numbers and processes comparing them to the most profitable dealerships around the country to see how yours stacks up. As always, you get to keep all of the materials for free.

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