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Manufacturing: Meet the expert, Matthew Sproston

Matthew Sproston, Area Sales Manager in our Manufacturing division, tells us more about his background and what it takes to work in sales during a pandemic…

Tell us more about yourself and your background…

Prior to Joining Close Brothers Asset Finance and Leasing, I completed a degree in Business Management and Economics where I had the pleasure of living in Cheltenham for three years. I then went on to work in the car rental industry for seven years, working my way up to secure a number of management positions across the North West.

I joined Close Brothers Asset Finance and Leasing in 2018 via the Sales Academy, which was a comprehensive training programme focused on developing sales and technical skills ready for life as an Area Sales Manager. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and have been helping customers with their Asset Finance requirements ever since.

Why manufacturing?

I have had an appreciation for manufacturing for a long time and I was extremely pleased to have the opportunity to work with businesses in the sector.

Also, being able to see and better understand how items are produced - along with being in a position to help manufacturers progress their business - was of great interest to me.

I’ve been fortunate to work with a wide variety of manufacturers, including precision engineers, packaging producers, subcontract manufacturers, and supercar manufacturers, to name a few.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Prior to COVID, I spent a lot of time on the road meeting customers in person to gain a greater understanding of how their business works and what I can do to help them achieve their goals.

In the morning I could be meeting a prospective client to discuss what their needs look like, taking a tour of their facility - usually followed by a chat over a coffee.

While in the car between meetings, I tend to speak with customers/colleagues, listen to Talk Sport and try and avoid the various fast food establishments for lunch.

Then in the afternoon I could be visiting another business to inspect assets as part of a refinance package or visiting a customer to negotiate terms.

Typically, I would end the day in my home office to finalise proposals and to manage transactions through to completion.

Every day is different, which I like!

What do you find most rewarding and challenging about your role?

The most rewarding part of the job is revisiting a customer a few months after the finance deal has been completed and being able to see first-hand how that has helped them. Usually, I see a shiny new machine on the shop floor with a load of new work going through it!

I have had examples where the company has used the facility to expand and kit out a new state-of-the-art premises, giving them the capacity to grow at their desired rate, which is really great to be a part of.

In terms of challenges, I would say working from home is the biggest. When an important email comes through it’s a challenge not to jump on the laptop straight away at night/weekends, but that’s a good challenge!

Other than that, the motorway network does throw a spanner in the works from time to time.

How has the pandemic impacted the way you do your job?

I think this applies to a large proportion of the UK in that we still do the same fundamental things but in a different way. I am still able to help customers in the same way as before; I am just a bit more reliant on technology than pre-COVID.

Being based at home more has helped in some respects because there is less time travelling, meaning I can do the admin side of things much faster than before.

Communication is now much more phone/computer based, which applies to both my customers and colleagues, however I do look forward to getting back to meeting people freely in person again.

Do you have a favourite deal you’ve worked on?

All of them are my favourite!

I have been lucky enough to complete numerous deals where I have met some great people and formed strong long-term relationships, which I feel is more important than the deal itself.

I do tend to enjoy the more challenging deals because they often have a great story behind them.