Top award for automotive talent development programme

Comedian Jack Dee, right, presents the BESMA award to the team from RTS Group and Mercedes-Benz VansA national programme developed in Chippenham to attract and develop new talent among commercial vehicles sales teams has scooped a top award.

The Van Talent programme, created in partnership between Mercedes-Benz Vans and Chippenham-based learning and development agency RTS Group to attract and nurture new talent for the sales division of Mercedes-Benz Vans UK dealerships, has scooped a prestigious BESMA, or British Excellence in Sales Management Awards.

The BESMAs are run by the Institute of Sales Management, ISM, which represents sales professionals in the UK and internationally.

The Van Talent programme won the Sales Development Programme of the Year Award, beating off stiff competition from seven other finalists.

Simon Snowdon, RTS Group’s van talent programme & development consultant, said the award was a great tribute to the success of the programme, which has now been running for five years and so far attracted more than 80 people.

“We worked with Mercedes-Benz Vans to create the programme to help attract new, talented people into van sales who hadn’t worked in the automotive sector before.

"We start two cohorts each year, and the programme takes two years to complete. It’s been very successful, and our cohorts have comprised people from all walks of life; we have graduates, people who’ve worked in retail, and a former traffic warden,” said Simon.

“Its success is down to how comprehensive a programme it is. Everyone on the programme has a business manager as well as a dedicated Mercedes-Benz mentor, they have to complete practical assessments and a business improvement project.

"At the end, the graduates attain recognised qualifications – a C-Sales accreditation from Daimler and an ISM level 3 in sales management.”

Vikki Aitchison, training manager at Mercedes-Benz Vans UK Ltd, said: “We are very proud of the Van Talent Development programme and to have received an award is testament to the hard work that went into creating the training. Watching the cohorts completing the programme is a great reward and we enjoy following their career within the dealer network.”

Along with Simon, representatives from RTS Group and Mercedes-Benz Vans UK – including RTS Group’s Kat Searle, Stuart Rudd and Chris Jossaume, with Vikki Aitchison and Debbie Wells of Mercedes-Benz Vans UK Ltd - were presented with their award from comedian Jack Dee at a ceremony in London.