Mercedes-Benz London: Always On

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This Sprinter Specialist says quick answers are the key to great relationships.

Thirty-year car industry vet Ridley Wetton took up his post as Sprinter Specialist in the Corporate Fleet Program at Mercedes-Benz London in 1999, and he has been enjoying it ever since.

“I started here with the Sprinter when Mercedes-Benz first brought it back,” he says. Since then, Sprinter and Metris vans have comprised the bulk of his fleet sales. The distinctive Sprinter has been a Canadian success story for the manufacturer, and helped build Mercedes-Benz London’s successful fleet program.

On duty and online

Because of the size of his Western Ontario territory, he says he spends a lot of his time online, including when he’s at home in front of a Blue Jays’ game. “It’s just too easy to get out the computer,” he says. “It’s too easy to always be emailing and quoting.”

He says he hasn’t seen too much change in that regard since he started, that he was already doing a fair bit online then, but that the ability of prospective customers to get direct quotes immediately has and continues to change—rapidly. “We have a really good process on our website,” he notes. “If they’ve requested a quote, I get a notice immediately and can get back to them right away.”

The desire of clients to do just about everything by email has increased, too. “I think people like getting right to the business at hand, without the hi, how-are-yous,” he says. “It sounds like it might be detrimental to relationships, but I find it’s actually good. People appreciate that they’re getting exactly what they need.”

Changing conversations

Another change he has seen since he started is the nature of most conversations, however accomplished. “There’s less product talk,” he says, “and more about requirements. Most people have already researched very well. When I started in the car business, I was selling on the floor. Our big day was Saturday and we’d see 100 people come through. Dealerships don’t see that anymore. With the ability to research on their own time, most people I talk to are already committed to a vehicle. Our conversations are about what their application is to see if there’s perhaps a better version, what they’ll be carrying, what their capacity needs are. Then it comes down to cost analysis.”

He says about 60 percent of his time is spent on account maintenance and the rest on building new business, something he accomplishes primarily through in-person cold calls and trade shows; he says trade shows suit the spread-out territory particularly well. Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show he cites as one of the best and biggest, and it’s right in his backyard.

Building relationship

“I’m not a high-pressure type, never have been,” he says. “It’s about relationships, and I have to get people what they want. If I can’t, I have to be able to explain why. That’s the big thing. You can’t just say, ‘That won’t work.’ If they’ve made assumptions about what will work for their business and it’s not right, I have to be straight up, say, ‘Here’s what you need.’ Or, ‘I can’t do that.’”

He says the support he gets has enabled his success, including head office, management, the sales staff, and the great service department and technicians. “I’m comfortable that my clients can talk to anyone here if I’m not around and they will get help,” he says. “It’s a very good group of people.”

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