The largest age group ever seen in the U.S. is now emerging as a significant market presence. Millennials, or “Gen Y” as they’re also known, are 105 million people strong, and they bring with them a respectable buying power of nearly $900 billion annually.

This group will account for 25 percent of vehicle sales in 2013, and that number will increase to 40 percent in just 10 years.

This is also the most ethnically diverse age group in American history, but the challenges we will face with speaking their “language” will center on technology rather than dialect.

Here’s why: The Millennial generation was the first to be introduced to our “always on” culture with constantly streaming information and communication. They’re comfortable having overwhelming amounts of information at their fingertips because they’re also fluent with the tools needed to sort through it.

Millennials don’t just like technology in their purchase process, they expect it. Companies that can adapt tools like a tablet to the F&I process will be able to speak the language of this audience. But before you rush to pick up new tools, take care to give some thought to how you execute your technology strategy. A paper menu simply scanned and thrown onto a smartphone or tablet won’t impress this generation. A well-executed experience makes a world of difference.

Millennials are minimalists, which means the best electronic sales approach will mirror the attributes of a great smartphone app: brief, clean, simple and straightforward.

But let’s be clear, speaking the same language through technology is certainly not a replacement for the time-proven expertise of a good finance manager. Technology in the hands of a skilled F&I salesperson will help empower the customer and create an immersive experience that helps illustrate the benefit of the products you’re selling, ultimately improving your CSI scores while building lasting relationships that will result in repeat business.

Ally is developing its own mobile solution for dealers that enhances the F&I experience while helping you have a conversation in a language that is familiar to this group.

Of course, streamlining the F&I sales presentation to speed up the process will please any generation of customer sitting across from you.

Trying to wrap our heads around the Millennial challenge can be intimidating to say the least, but with a comprehensive plan and the right support, I believe the industry can transform the vehicle purchase experience.

Technology is not a panacea, as it is understood at different levels by each generation. But if done well, it can be a great tool to bridge the communication gap between generations — and that is a good start to a more successful future for everyone.

Tom Callahan

President Ally Insurance