LAS VEGAS -- Mercedes-Benz USA executives didn't attend the make meeting, leaving their top manager in the western region to field dealer questions.
With a change in CEO and the naming of two new vice presidents to fill vacancies, Mercedes-Benz is saving details of the new management team's plans for its April dealer meeting in Chicago.
"We will unveil our priorities in all the areas -- sales, marketing and product," said Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, in an interview before the convention.
Bob Woerner, general manager of the western region, ran the make meeting. He said he told dealers "the primary objective" for Mercedes-Benz this year is to continue its Customer One training program. The one-day program teaches dealership personnel to "become customer-centric," he said.
"They have to look at things from the customer's perspective -- not the dealer or manufacturer perspective -- to see what the customer wants," Woerner said.
Mercedes-Benz is halfway through the program and has trained 5,000 dealership employees, he said. About 12,000 employees will have been trained when the program ends in three years, he said.
Some of the training covers simple steps, such as how to greet a customer properly. "When a customer comes in the door, you meet and greet. You don't talk about the price point," Woerner said. "It is an organic process change at the dealership level. They know internally where their pain points are."
Mercedes-Benz dealers were also told the brand is targeting sales of 260,000 units this year, dealers said. That would be up 6 percent from 2011. The 2012 sales target means the brand would top its 2007 peak of 253,277.
But there was no discussion of racing BMW to the top. Last year, Mercedes-Benz sold 245,192 vehicles, making it the No. 2 luxury brand behind BMW.