Millennials get a bad rap. I’ll admit it. This is coming from a Gen X’er who too grows frustrated when I don’t see eye to eye with the youth of today. That’s just how my old brain works. Many of the characteristics we assign to millennials, however, are forced generalizations. That they’re entitled, lazy, addicted to technology, want to only work on their time, lack loyalty and are fiscally irresponsible. As I type this, however, I think the average car salesperson is more in line with these stereotypes than millennials.
The more we step into new dealerships and dealer groups to train those in our industry, the more we see the face of automotive retail changing. It isn’t for the worse, per se, but not for the better either. Some of our workers are getting far too comfortable achieving the same 12 cars per month. Others simply don’t want to adapt to new technology – whether they be a seasoned vet or a green pea. For this reason, dealers need to change their job descriptions, pay plan structure, work schedules, and expectations to accommodate (and win over) today’s automotive sales professional.
Millennials are known for being entitled.
This is not the case. However, look at a typical car salesperson. Do they act entitled? Yes. Do they feel they deserve phone calls regardless of the quality of their phone skills? Yes. Do they believe they should handle Internet leads regardless of their acumen in doing so? Yes.
In my belief, leads and calls are not a right, but a privilege. The only things salespeople are entitled to are access to technology that helps them maintain a book of business, dealer-branded clothing, consistent management and training of best practices, and business cards. Everything else is up to them.
Millennials are known for being lazy.
I don’t find this to be true. Look at today’s sales professionals though and you’ll see they work at a different pace. It isn’t as much about expending energy as expending effort. As I see it, salespeople don’t take the lot-walks every day they should. They don’t complete their daily duties/follow-up tasks within the CRM religiously. They don’t like taking vehicles over the curb to meet customers at their home or work.
They just don’t do the little things that bring about an incredible customer experience beyond “being friendly”. We need to make sure many of the “effort”-related tasks sales professionals are responsible for is both written in their job description and supported through skill training.
Millennials are known for being addicted to technology.
Aren’t we all? My guess is your phone (i.e. your internet-connected lifeline to sanity and satisfaction) is within arm’s reach of you. Salespeople are taking it to a new extreme. Rather than log notes into a CRM (or into the mobile app of their CRM), they bypass the task with scrolling through Instagram, watching unrelated Youtube videos, and wasting the day away on their screens. Rather than using their phones while at work for work, they use their phones for play.
The device in their hand has the opportunity to be one of the most valuable resources to educate oneself, yet it is being used on showroom floors to kill time and destroy productivity. This too needs to be better managed through policy, enforced by ownership, and leveraged through training.
Millennials are known for wanting to work on their time.
While everyone would like an easy, breezy work schedule, car salespeople have historically never been afforded this. Yet every new survey that comes out about motivating factors to the newest hires of our industry indicate that shorter hours, less strenuous work weeks, and paid vacations are the driving factors toward choosing one’s preferred profession.
In the near futures, dealers will need to reinvent how their floors operate from a human capital perspective as it relates to scheduled work hours. This will allow us to minimize attrition, improve morale, and bring in new talent into our stores.
Millennials are known to lack loyalty to brands and business.
I find this far from the truth. On the showroom, however, this is 100% accurate. With dealership attrition rates averaging around 70%, and more pseudo-social-media-automotive-celebrities jumping from one dealership or vendor to another after just mere months of work proves that loyalty for your employer is not what it once was. Whether this is based on their work ethic not equaling their preferred title or their expectation of pay not equaling their performance output, people jump ship quickly in this industry. (If I have to see one more social media post about a “big announcement” some blowhard wants to make after just joining another firm month’s before, I’ll go mad.) Reinvesting in the training of staff, team-building activities, and a stronger culture can help quell this new trend of mass exodus from dealer lots.
Millennials are known to be fiscally irresponsible.
They live with their parents! How more frugal can they be? 🙂 Many of the car salespeople we train however are quick to show off their Hermes belt, Breitling wristwatch, and new, murdered-out Ford F250 (though they traded in the Charger they bought only one year ago to get it). Salespeople often spend their hard-earned dollars on status symbols of wealth, which can be very shortsighted with the industry due for a downturn.
Salespeople come in all shapes and sizes. Just like millennials. However, many of the attributes that millennials are labeled with can be attached to the typical car salesperson. It is up to us as an industry, and ownership, to rethink the talent we bring in, the expectations we have of our personnel, and the training and motivation we provide to our current staff. This is not an indictment against salespeople. This is a call-to-arms for everyone of us to do a lot better. From salespeople to ownership and everyone in between, we owe it to the industry to fight against stereotypes and be the best of our profession. It’s not the millennials’ fault.