With 24 per cent of millennials planning to buy a car within the next 12 months and the demographic expected to make up 46 per cent of the workforce by 2020, they are the group to target.

That’s one of the key takeaways automotive accountancy firm, BDO, took from its visit to the 100th annual NADA Convention in New Orleans in February.

A review of the convention, compiled by head of motor retail, Malcolm Thixton, and partner, Steve Le Bas, said it was important to give millennials ‘immediate and personalised’ attention.

“When they visit your dealership they are ready to buy, having done their research online. A hard sell will not work with them so you have to adopt a thorough and professional sales approach,” the BDO review said.

Other important lessons regarding millennials were to answer any questions they have, and always come back with another question to help keep the engagement going. It is crucial to be unique: “Try to stand out and communicate through the channels they use, i.e. have a 30-second video to text them”.
“Get them on the phone as soon as possible. Be more than ‘words on a screen’ so your personality can shine through. Persevere and always do your after-contact follow-up.”

Research shows that customer satisfaction reduces once they have spent more than 90 minutes in the business at any one time, so BDO encourages Dealers to adopt the ‘One-Hour Sale’ model:

First 15 minutes

  • Capture ‘Like’: 71 per cent of millennials buy because they like their salesperson.
  • Look, act and sound like a professional to make a great first impression.
  • Get your first 10 words right; make it a warm and friendly greeting.
  • Ask the right questions to establish trust as you discover their hot buttons.
  • Show off your service department as part of your ‘VIP’ treatment.
  • Properly handle price questions so they don’t become hurdles later on.
  • Get management involved early with a quick ‘fly by’ to say ‘hi’.

Next 30 minutes

  • Engage: Build value in your product.
  • Take the lead and display, operate and show how the product works.
  • Make your car ‘the star’ – ‘sell the sizzle’ and focus on their hot buttons.
  • Be quiet when the customer drives – the ‘feel of the wheel seals the deal’.

Last 15 minutes

  • Convert: Create a ‘now mindset’.
  • Start to summarise two minutes out with ‘yes’ questions.
  • Convert into a sale today with a positive statement and action.
  • Create massive mental ownership with physical involvement.
  • Set your deal up right with a proper four-step ‘wrap up’.
  • Set up and handle the write-up professionally.
  • The BDO review also emphasises that rather than being seen as the last step of the sale, the delivery phase should be seen as the first step of the next sale. Build an ongoing relationship – follow up, ask for referrals and ‘marry them’ to your service department.

Key learning points

  • Ensure you react to the changing customer base.
  • Interact initially with the customer in the manner they want to communicate.
  • Create a sales process for the millennial customer.
  • Ensure customers who are time poor are not made to stay in the dealership longer than necessary.

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