How Mercedes-Benz UK achieved best market share ever while bridging a skills gap
Mercedes-Benz Trucks UK has taken an innovative approach to training which has yielded impressive results. The company has increased its market share in the truck sector and seen a 78% retention rate of trained employees since 2011, with 16% of those coming through the programme being female. In addition, the average age of sales executives in the truck division has lowered by nine years since the programme was launched meaning that Mercedes-Benz has managed to put a succession plan in place to meet a real business need.
Skills shortage identified
In 2010 Mercedes-Benz UK realised it needed to address a future skills shortage based on the predicted retirement age of its truck sales network. The result was the creation of its Truck Sales Executive Training Programme which opened up the recruitment process to those with no previous sales or automotive experience in order to meet the skills gap and increase its market share in the sector.
The 26-week intensive training programme includes both on and off the job training and covers parts, service, finance, sales and after-sales techniques. Applications come from far and wide, with the current cohort ranging from beauticians to financial analysts.
Matthew McGrattan, Truck Training Specialist, Mercedes-Benz and FUSO Trucks UK, said: “We took a slightly different approach with the recruitment for this programme; rather than looking for people with specific truck sales experience, we focused on candidates who had some customer service experience, demonstrated the right attitude and most of all, displayed a passion for joining the brand and immersing themselves in the products.”
Unique customer approach
Today, customers are becoming less brand-loyal in the automotive sector. An important part of the training focuses on the customer journey ensuring that customers receive expert advice about the products and services along with a great customer experience. A unique element of the training is that the trainee must learn to drive a truck and gain an HGV licence. This approach means that once trained, the sales person has not only got the product knowledge, but can also take the customer on a test drive allowing them to build a strong relationship, partnering them throughout the entire sales process.
Vincente Connolly, Director National Sales, Mercedes-Benz and FUSO Trucks UK, said: “This programme was the first of its kind in the industry, as far as we are aware, and as an organisation, we are very proud of it. The programme was created to ensure succession planning and longevity for our Truck Business, encouraging people from all walks of life and industries to join us and experience trucks. The diverse backgrounds have resulted in a broader range of skills and experiences and has reduced the average age of our sales executives from 53 to 42.”
Carving a niche in a crowded market
Mercedes-Benz’s ground-breaking approach to training has taken skill levels to a new dimension in the company. By equipping new recruits with in-depth knowledge and skills to best meet customers’ needs it is achieving its strategic goals in a competitive and crowded marketplace.
Mercedes-Benz UK has achieved a Princess Royal Training Award in 2016.
Created to reflect the values of the City & Guilds Group, the Princess Royal Training Awards is a new honour for employers in the UK who have created outstanding training and development programmes resulting in exceptional commercial benefits.
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