By Jerry Zezima
As a man who couldn’t sell snow shovels in Alaska, surfboards in Hawaii or beer in Death Valley (I’d drink it first), I never thought I could sell cars to anybody but myself. And because my driveway is short and my garage is full of junk, where would I put them all?
So I decided to visit the best salesman I know, James Boyd, of Hyundai 112 in Medford, New York, to see how it’s done.
James, who’s 42 and has been in the business for 20 years, has sold me my last two cars, both SUVs named for Santa Fe, another place where I couldn’t sell anything, even the artwork for which the city is famous.
“Welcome, JZEE!” James exclaimed when I entered the showroom on a busy weekday afternoon. He calls me by that name (pronounced Jay-Z, like the rapper, except I’m the original) because that’s what is on my license plates, which my wife, Sue, got for me several years ago. “They’re the best I’ve ever seen,” James said. “Now, what can I do for you? Do you want another car?”
“Not yet,” I said. “But since I’m retired, and have nothing better to do, and need to get out of Sue’s hair, I thought I’d try to sell cars.”
“You’ve come to the right place,” said James, who then excused himself to take care of some of the many customers he had that day.
While he was gone, I struck up a conversation with two of them, Vickie and Bret, who were there to pick up a car James had sold them a couple of days before.
“James is very good,” Bret said. “He’s friendly, knowledgeable and professional.”
“We planned to go to another dealership after this,” Vickie added, “but we met James and we never left this one.”
Just then, James came back to his desk to pick up some paperwork.
“You’re supposed to be making the plates,” he told me.
“I’ll probably end up doing it in prison,” I said. “And I should have a plate in my head. By the way, do I get a commission for talking with these nice people?”
“We’ll see about that,” James said before dashing off again.
“You’ll owe him money,” Bret said.
“Could I be a salesman?” I asked.
“Sure,” Vickie said. “You chat up customers, you have a good personality and a great sense of humor, and you’re outgoing. You could sell anything.”
Vickie should know because she works in sales at a home improvement store.
I decided to try out my sales technique on Bret when Vickie said he would be getting their old car and she’d get the new one.
“Why should you drive the old one when you can have a beautiful, brand-new car just like Vickie got?” I told him.
“No!” he said firmly.
“Think of the prestige,” I said.
“Think of the money,” Bret replied.
When James returned again, I asked, “Who’s your best customer?”
“You, JZEE!” he said.
“And now I want to be your best salesman,” I said, though I knew I could never be as good as James because, as he has told me, he loves his job and enjoys working with people, and that the secret of his success is having a good sense of humor, not putting pressure on customers, being straightforward and working hard to make them happy.
“Did you sell Bret a car?” James asked.
“I’m trying,” I said.
“I’ll tell you what,” James said as he handed Vickie the keys to her new car and the delightful couple started to leave. “If Bret buys one, you can have the commission.”
“What do you say, Bret?” I said.
“I’ll think about it,” he replied.
“They’re going fast,” I said.
“OK,” Bret said. “I’ll come back.”
“And when you do,” I said, “just ask for JZEE.”
Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima