I WAS thinking of saying I popped up to Mercedes’ Milton Keynes HQ the Thursday before the Easter break, but that was hardly the case.
I battled the Easter exodus traffic shall we say…
Anyway, the point of the journey was to meet Simon Neil, who is the sales director for Mercedes-Benz Vans in the newly formed Vans division.
Last year Mercedes established autonomous businesses – so there’s an MD for cars, for trucks and for vans (Steve Bridge). The idea is to give each division more responsibility and more focus – see our news story Mercedes appoints Steve Bridge as new managing director of vans division.
Which always sounds fine in theory but what about practice?
“It allows us to have a entire customer journey under one roof. For a customer, in terms of decision making and focus what we now have is the opportunity to dedicate time to the end user. That wasn’t always happening before,” explained Simon.
“With dedication you get a clear idea of what customer wants and we can provide a proposition that’s fit for purpose.”
Which already sounds like a better deal – more consultative than just ‘sell ‘em a van’. So chances are you should get a van that suits your business, not just a van the salesman wants to sell you.
What’s more, Mercedes vans has its three pointed star fixed on three distinct van user groups – which is excellent news for tradespeople and SME van fleets wanting a Merc van.
“What we have with the new Van division is a focus on specific needs of sections of clients,” continued Simon, who broke them down as follows:
- Retail (tradespeople wanting one or two vans);
- SME (van fleet operators and small van fleets);
- Strategic accounts/national fleet (larger corporate and fleet business).
“Prior to the dedicated van team we had two teams and the SME focus swung between both teams – which meant we serviced the sector unsatisfactorily. That’s no longer the case.
“Within SMEs there’s a whole raft of disciplines – so we’re focusing on utilities, service engineers, facilities management, food distribution and construction. That’s not to say were ignoring groups outside those – but it’s our primary area of focus.”
Simon continued that it was crucial Mercedes understood what these business van users needed.
“We need to understand what is required – such as late night servicing, and so on.
We need to understand what is required – such as late night servicing
“If we can we offer test vehicles that are more appropriate for the intended function – so an engineer might want a racked Citan rather than a ply-lined Citan to test out. It’s about the professionalisation of what we do.
“So if we are getting to differentiate ourselves we need to be better than our opposition in rival dealerships.”
Among the initiatives is a van talent programme to develop the next generation of van managers throughout the Mercedes-Benz Van operation. For the 60 places it was 50 times oversubscribed.
“The ambition is to give breadth of knowledge to the CV industry – so the managers can deal with everything from legislation issues to finance.”
And the other initiative is Van Pro, a dedicated programme delivering consistency of experience for MB van customers.
But if you haven’t got the message already, Mercedes-Benz Vans is changing.
The van ‘sales’ mentality is being replaced by a consultative approach that puts the customer first.
And Simon is in the vanguard of this change at Mercedes.
A new Mercedes Vito is on the way. Click here for more.