In the Box with Billy Sherman

Billy Sherman’s “gift of gab” led him to his first career as a freestyle rap artist, and now it serves him in building and growing solid relationships with customers at Pine Belt Chevy in Lakewood, NJ. Find out how this father of three makes every day great at the job he loves.

I had a friend in the car business who thought I’d be successful because I can talk to anyone. I didn’t know anything about cars, so I didn’t think I could do it. But I tried, and I sold 18 cars my first month. In a dealership where the top salesperson was probably 22.

Now, to get to those 18 cars, I went through 52 ups. I was taking everybody, because I knew I wasn’t going to get better unless I practiced. And that’s what I tell the new guys now: Don’t be afraid to take an up. You’re going to learn from failing. You can’t get better, you can’t grow, without failure. Even the best baseball player in the world made an out over 70% of the time.

There is a secret to it! People don’t just go home and write a review. The reality is, you have to ask for one, and it’s all about when you ask and how you ask.

At the end of the day, I make the entire deal about the customer. My whole objective is to give them a good experience. I want them to laugh, I want them to have fun, I want this to be just hanging out with a friend. So when I ask for a review, they’re like, Absolutely! They’re happy to do it. I Iearned that from Jonathan Dawson.

Facebook is basically my bread and butter. I got 18 cars out this month, and 14 of them were self-generated off Facebook.

The ninja move that I’ve been doing lately since I got back from Hustle and Grind, I just ask, “Are you on Facebook?” A lot of people already know me from Facebook. And if they do, they pretty much come in expecting to make a video, a testimonial. So it’s easy.

I’ve been doing this for six years now. When I started, I had 600 friends on Facebook. Now I have to delete people just to stay under the 5,000 limit. I also have a lot of Facebook groups I’ve started, to connect with other salespeople.

AutoAlert is epic. We’ve (Pine Belt Chevrolet) been in business since 1937. If you get a job with Chevy, you’ll watch a video on the history of the brand and it shows our dealership.

So … we have a very large database of people. There’s a lot of jumbled data, a lot of missed entities. AutoAlert lets us know if there’s anybody we’re missing. Like maybe someone is 30 payments into a 36-month lease, and we can get them out right now. It gives us the entire breakdown on everyone, and even the script is right there for us. Of course, I’m the guy who gets yelled at because I don’t like to follow scripts [laughs]. But they work.

Cold calls is just something I can never do. But when I’m calling off of AutoAlert, these people already know who we are. It’s never a cold call. I can just flow right into a conversation.

A lot of customers have been through the wringer at car dealerships. They’ve been lied to, their time hasn’t been honored.

I’m 42, going on 43. I’m not some young puppy! When I have a customer, I’m the one running to get the car pulled up for a test drive. You know who’s running around the lot to get numbers? You know who’s running around the showroom? Me. I run. Everywhere. And customers will ask me, “Why are you running, Billy? Slow down.” And I’m like, “No, your time is way too important to me for me to walk.”

It’s a habit for me now; I do it every time. This job is about repetition. It’s about figuring out what works for you and using it, over and over again. A chef doesn’t make the perfect filet and then say, “You know what? I’m going to try something different next time.” He’s going to do what works.

I’ve been on both sides of the table; I’ve been a salesman, and when I was a salesman all I wanted to be was a manager. So then when they asked me to be a manager, only being in the industry three years, I was blown away. I was like Hell yeah, I’ll do it! Then once I became a manager, I started to think about What’s my ‘why’? For me, it’s my kids, my wife, to provide for them, but you have to enjoy what you’re doing. For me, the enjoyment is the people. It’s the relationships I build with customers. I missed that as a manager.

I listen to Les Brown, Eric Thomas, Inky Johnson, Bill Gates … in the morning to get myself in a positive headspace. I wake up watching Markiss Stone’s Daily Dose Show, and I get fired up. So I can go out here and be on for 12 hours.

I work at a union store. The mandatory hours are 8 hours a day. That’s unique in the car business, where pretty much everyone’s bells to bells.

So where I differentiate is in my grind. When I’m scheduled for 12:30, I’m here at 9, 9:30,10 at the latest. Knowing I’m here till 9 p.m. We open at 8, so it doesn’t make sense to come in before that – nobody’s here. Then we can leave at 4. I never leave at 4. I’m always here till 6, 6:30, 7. Or later. I’ve been here from 8 in the morning to 12 at night. These are things I can do, anyone can do, to differentiate.

Hmm, probably my first viral video. I had this idea for “new car” karaoke. Even before James Corden was doing his show …

Wait, no! It was getting New York Mets Third Baseman Todd Frazier to do a video for me. I’m a diehard Mets fan. After I sold him a car, I called him and was like You have to do this video for me. And he was like Anything for you, Big Dog. So he came in and I told him my idea and he did it perfectly. One take.

My kids, my wife. And music. I used to be a rap artist before I got into automotive. Actually, I’ve sold a few cars freestyling! Mostly to the younger guys. I tell them OK, if I can blow your mind freestylin’, you have to buy the car. And they’re like Look at this old guy! No way he’s going to blow my mind. And then I do, and they buy the car. Every one of them has bought the car when I do that [laughs]. I love my job.

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