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Recruit a team, not single stars

Derek Sims, owner of Derek Sims Toyota, AM’s 2005 volume dealership of the year, believes team work and motivation are key to a successful sales team.

Having worked in the motor retail industry for 18 years, Sims set up a headhunting business in 2001, where he specialized in recruiting staff for Formula One and brands such as Shell and Deutsche Telekom.

Building on this experience, Sims has put in place a stringent recruitment process for his own sales staff.

“We advertise in the usual places,” he says. “Then we’ll do a phone interview and if they pass that we’ll invite them for a formal interview. Following this, we ask them to go on a two-day training session with us to see if they’re right for the job.”

Sims employs sales staff that he believes will be able to identify people’s behaviour in order to sell them a car that they need, rather than because of the price.

“Traditional sales people can be very one-dimensional, they just want to sell you a car. All my staff bring a slice of real life to their roles, meaning they can relate to people and work in a three-dimensional way,” he says.

Since taking over the Toyota franchise at the end of 2002, Sims’ team has gone from 28 to 56, including a 16-strong sales team. Staff come from diverse backgrounds and include a former Coldstream Guard, prison warden, solicitor and paramedic.

“We’re not looking to create single superstars. We want everyone in the team to perform 12 months a year, not two. If someone needs to improve certain skills then we work with them, train them or even give them a buddy to help them achieve their goals,” says Sims.

Employees attend daily sales meetings, receive monthly appraisals, and individual achievements are recognized with gifts.

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