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How to Sell to Millennials in 2019

Before taking on the challenge of how to sell to Millennials, you must first know who they are and what age group they fall into.  Most research organizations consider those born from the early 1980s to the late 1990s as Millennials or the ‘Y’ Generation. This places them anywhere from 19- to 37-years-old.  This makes up nearly a quarter of the population in America today or just over 75 million people total.

Millennials grew up in the age of the Internet and they are very familiar with how to use today’s technologies when it comes to making important decisions. Shopping for a car would be something most would consider worth the effort and they will give due diligence to the process. This means hours of online research to find the vehicle they want and can include time spent reading product reviews and talking to family and social media friends to get advice on what, from who and where to buy.

millennialsThis generation of shoppers does not like pressure or manipulation of any kind and are quick to move on when a Salesperson uses Trial Closes or says, ‘This deal is only offered today.’ Any type of slick talk raises their defensiveness.  They already know all of the places they can find the vehicle they want so if they come to your dealership, they likely know you have it, or they wouldn’t be there.

What Millennial shoppers are looking for is Value.  They want to know they are getting good value for their investment and will check any available factory brochures and online reviews of various cars to see which ones offer the most of what they want for the best price.  Price and payment are important to most Millennial car shoppers, but not at the sacrifice of getting what they want in a vehicle. The salesperson who earns their business must know how to present the value of their product, themselves and their dealership well.  They may ask about specific features and benefits important to them and you must be prepared to answer knowledgeably, or at least be able to get the information quickly if you don’t know for sure. But don’t try to fake it if you don’t know. That doesn’t go over well with this kind of shopper.

Though many Millennials may live with their parents into their 30s, don’t think that makes them ignorant and easy to take advantage of in any way.  They know what they want and will spend the time required to find it when it comes time to make their purchase. This may be even more true of female shoppers from this generation.  Things that are important to a female Millennial may not be the same for men. Conduct some research online to see what vehicles they are buying, and why, and you can give yourself an advantage in understanding what differences are important to the female millennial buyers.  Since women make 80% of the car buying decisions today, this is something that you must keep in mind if you want to succeed with these buyers.

So much of what will make or break your chances with a Millennial shopper is making a positive connection during the Meet & Greet.  Since conducting effective research plays an important part with most Generation ‘Y’ shoppers, they may have been to a website that has warned them about what to expect when they go shopping at a dealership.  Many of these information websites plant fear in their minds and can preset the shopper in a negative mindset before they even get to the dealership. This will almost guarantee a defensive posture and resistance.  They may even ignore you altogether and want to walk the inventory alone.

millennialsYour initial focus must be on lowering their defensiveness and connecting with them in a positive and welcoming manner right from the start.  You can do this by being friendly and not forcing your way in with a myriad of questions. By listening more than talking you can come across as different from what they expect and can reduce their fear and apprehension enough to make a good impression. The more you find out about what they want, the more likely they will be to listen to your advice when you give it.

The best way to lower their defenses is to create an environment where they feel they are controlling the process and not you.  Asking questions about budget, equipment and buying timeline is a true turn off to Millennials. You need to let them walk your lot and view your inventory without the traditional qualifying questions.  Obviously, you want to ask them if they want a new or used car and maybe what size or style, but that is it.

Once on the lot, the Millennial shopper will show you exactly what they want and can afford by what they are drawn to; that is, what they like, and not what the salesperson thinks they can afford.  Always remember, if you push a string it goes nowhere, and this group of buyers is like a string. They cannot be pushed or pressured.

Millennials are not usually emotional buyers either, and most are aware of the reputation car salespeople have for pressing customers to buy today, no matter what it takes.  Avoid that kind of pressure and focus instead on inspiring them and giving them good reasons to buy their new vehicle from you and from your dealership.

With over 75 million potential customers in North America in the Millennial demographic today, it is worth the effort to learn how to sell them successfully.  You may find they will become loyal customers for future purchases and will refer you and your dealership to their family and friends as the place to go when they are in the market for a new vehicle.

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David Lewis
David Lewis
David’s firm is a national training and consulting business that specializes in the retail automotive industry. He also is the author of four industry-related books, “The Secrets of Inspirational Selling,” “The Leadership Factor,” “Understanding Your Customer” and “The Common Mistakes Automotive Salespeople Make.” Visit his website at

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