Picture this; you are working with a prospect on the showroom floor. While going through the traditional sales process the prospect is paying more attention to their smartphone then they are to you. In fact the prospect is avoiding some of the qualifying questions and is making an attempt to take away your control of the sales process. Sound familiar?
If you answered “yes” then chances are you are dealing with the modern-day consumer, i.e. a millennial. The millennial consumer is highly informed, because they have the answer right at their fingertips for anything that they are looking for. If this happens a lot in your showroom the first piece of advice is to stop and evaluate the situation. Take a moment and listen to the customer. Listen to what they are saying to you and embrace what they are doing. If you have a computer or better yet a smart phone in front of you then go visit the same website they are on (Edmunds, Cars.com, DealerRater, PureCars, Google, YouTube, etc). Ask them what is important to them as well as what information you can share with them.
Now is the most critical time to evaluate the selling methods at the dealership and to make changes. The digital revolution is here and there are more millennials making big decisions (not just personal, but also business). The Acquity Group, a digital marketing company out Chicago, IL said, “Millennials were responsible for up to 89% of business related purchases decisions in 2013. If they have so much responsibility working in multimillion-dollar businesses then make no mistake that they purchase vehicles in the same fashion. If you do not believe me, then I urge you to take some time and create a little science experiment to evaluate how millennials operate. In fact, go spend a day at a Starbucks and just observe not only how millennials buy their coffee, but just the intellectual discussions that take place. I guarantee you that you will see more people playing with their smart phones, conducting work on their iPad, searching for information on Google as part of their conversations and even making coffee purchases off their Starbucks app.
Top five strategies to effectively sell to millennials:
1. Be Mobile Friendly
It is important to understand that milllennials will use their smartphone devices to read reviews, submit leads to other dealerships, watch videos, and send text messages. The most successful sales professionals embrace that and join their prospects. There is a reason why many digital marketing companies have released apps and selling tools. It is much easier to work with a customer from any location including the lot, the demo drive, the appraisal process and at the desk.
2. Reputation Management
Millennials are quick to read reviews and make immediate decisions based on what they read. In fact millennials make most of their purchases online without having the hassle of going somewhere and spending time. Since buying a car is still the second biggest purchase after a house it is still important to have personalized interaction. In order to have the chance for that interaction it is important to maintain a positive reputation since the customer will most likely check online.
3. Social Selling
Remember the traditional methods of prospecting that were once taught in basic sales training? Social media allows for a message to be spread to a much wider audience (the whole world). This is the time to become a consumer advocate and provide friendly, positive information. The key is to avoid making a sales pitch and to just provide information in a way where the message is always in front of the prospect.
4. Forward Thinking Consultative Selling
Dealers need to train sales professionals on the digital tools that they are already invested in. The dealership’s website has so many valuable tools that can help justify the “why buy here” message. These are tools that include reviews, market analysis (PureCars, Real Deal, KBB, etc.) as well as other information that can help sales professionals build value and sell instead of running to the desk every two minutes. In fact, there are OEMs that are now making Apple iPads a requirement in showrooms. These iPads should have a digital evidence manual.
5. Effective Follow Up
It is important to find out how the customer prefers to be followed up with and embrace it. Millennials like texting and social media so do not be surprised if they choose that method instead of traditional phone calls. Take time to make videos and personalize messages to engage better.
Technology in the new age has allowed the millennial generation to not be as personable as the baby boomer generation. In fact, many people prefer to text message instead of have a long phone conversation. Everything is about instant gratification with “getting to the point” quickly. The problem is that not every business (car dealers) has embraced millennial “forward thinking consultative selling”. Automotive sales, internet lead management and phone skills need to be updated with these strategies to allow dealers to win the sales game more often in 2014. These strategies when practiced effectively will allow for increased gross profits and customer retention.
Stan Sher is the founder and president of Dealer eTraining, an automotive sales training and consulting company focused on internet, BDC and showroom sales operations. Stan is a millennial himself with over 11 years experience in the automotive industry. He can be contacted at [email protected].