40% of your buyers are Gen Y. Do you know how ro sell them?

Born in the late '80s and early '90s, Gen Y, accounts for about 21 percent of the total population, and 40 percent of the car-buying population. And this doesn't even account for who they are influencing. They are the most influential car buying population after the baby boom. Not only do they influence other Gen Y buyers, but they also influence their parents.

We have seen an interesting shift in buying dynamics over the past few years. While Gen X turned to their parents for advice in buying cars, Gen Y is the giver of advice in the relationship. Parents are turning to their kids to do the research in the purchase of new vehicles. Gen X parents are also taking cues from their Gen Y siblings on how to use the information and technology available today.

Gen Y Does Not Want to Be Sold

Gen Y is the first truly plugged in customer base. Think about it: Gen Y has always had a computer, laptop, the Internet, a cell phone and instant gratification. When members of this generation want to know anything, the answer has always been at their fingertips. This has helped to create a customer base that thinks they know everything. People who think they know everything don't want to be sold. They are educated and want to make correct decisions. They want to be reinforced that they have made the right decision. This has to be become the mentality of the sales floor.

First of all, the typical showroom looks like a selling environment. Your business manager is sitting behind a large desk with a computer, and with all the information. He looks at his computer and tells the customer his options. While the Gen Y buyer knows and accepts this situation, and understand the events that must take place to purchase a vehicle, he doesn't like the experience.

Second, Gen Y is a generation that doesn't like to negotiate. When items are negotiated there are winners and losers. Growing up playing sports as a child, Gen Y didn't have winners and losers, everyone received a trophy at the end of the game. And negotiating is a process where they don't feel they can win. Salespeople need to feel more consultative where options are given.

With Gen Y, the experience has to be about them. Buying a car is an experience for Gen Y, not a transaction. We need to reeducate our sales force that the key to selling Gen Y is a consultative approach, not a hard sell.

Consultative Selling Approaches

As an industry, auto sales professionals need to shift the conversation from the transaction of buying a car, to a process of suggesting a car that satisfies Gen Y's triggers. Gen Y is driven by craving and emotion. They are not concerned about the same things as Gen X. And whatever that emotional trigger is, it must be related through the entire process of selling the car, and the products sold in the business office. The presentation has to be about them, and presented only in a manner that can be justified by them.

  • Gen Y customers don't care what you think or what you like about a product. They only care about their causes, so you need to pull their emotional trigger without making it about you.
  • Gen Y customers don't like winners or losers, so in negotiations, stop trying to "work a deal." You can offer payment options; however, know there will be consequences.
  • Suggest ancillary products to the Gen Y customer that offer value and can be justified based on their belief system. Remember, they don't care about the same things as their parents, and don't place value in the same places.

The Gen Y customer is the now 40% of your business. So the business office needs to recognize this customer and change their selling style. Remember, when it comes to Gen Y, it is more about them and less about us.

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Comment by Crystal Ignatowski on February 24, 2016 at 1:56pm

Great post about how the industry is changing. 

You mention how Gen Y has always had a computer, laptop, etc. Do you think dealers should focus more on online selling then...to target Gen Y?

Comment by Mike Elliott on April 23, 2014 at 10:52am

Excellent post!

Comment by Heather Brautman on October 28, 2013 at 6:14pm

We address this issue and more in our free eBook, "9 Scripts to Combat Car Sales Stereotypes." It's true that Gen Y has completely revamped the way sales are made on the lot. Step up or find yourself stepping out.

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