Our Fireside Fridays series is where we have the opportunity to sit down with top B2B revenue leaders for 7 questions and get a behind-the-scenes look at their recommended best practices, their background, and factors that have contributed to their success. This is our interview with Ben Dietz, President – Americas at Mintel.
Give us your background in sales
Reflecting, I learned about some basics in sales and management early on. Whether it was learning to negotiate with my parents in elementary school for extra outdoor time, managing my high school teachers to continue passing me despite a lack of attention, and most importantly, learning customer service while waiting tables. Once I knew there was a profession in which I could be paid for being who I am, I jumped into Sales. My first true sales job was when I joined Mintel, smack dab in the middle of the 2008 recession. 13 years later, I’m still here and still applying the principles I learned ages ago.
What’s the best piece of sales or business advice you ever got, and from who?
My grandfather always used to tell me to eat my humble pie. This has been important for me to embrace over the years, as nothing I have accomplished has been because of just myself. In Sales, I always involve others who can bring value to the stakeholders I am working with. This advice goes well beyond the walls of Revenue. If you have the humility to understand that you will be learning from others all of your life, and if you happen to have the grit to find ways to get things done, you will make a positive impact on this world.
Who is your mentor, and what have you learned from them?
My Mom. I pale in comparison to my mom’s negotiating skills. She always thinks of what the other person wants and positions herself to get what she wants as a result. I love joining a negotiation when it appears all hope is lost and finding a win-win for all involved. Thanks, Mom!
What’s the best sales or business book you’ve ever read, and why? Are you reading anything now?
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It is such a cheesy title, but a book that will forever be relevant. It was written in 1936! As for the book I am reading today, it is called Endurance. I like reading about people that have been great leaders in history. If I can learn how others were able to lay out a vision, set steps to achieve that vision, and then enable a team above them to follow them on that journey, I will put my teams in a position to succeed. This story of Ernest Shackleton is insane! This book tells me that no matter how dire the situation I find myself and/or my team in, it’s easier to find a way out by keeping a pragmatically optimistic attitude.
What’s the best advice you’d give to someone who is interested in getting into leadership one day?
Spend time learning who you are and what you stand for. What is your purpose? It’s hard to build up others around you without knowing what it is that makes you tick. Also, in a larger role, you are going to spend a ton of time doing activities you are not normally comfortable with. It is equally important to know how you regain your energy so that you are not pouring from an empty cup.
What’s a mistake or fail you vividly remember from your journey in business, and what did you ultimately learn from that experience?
I was on a Zoom with one of our best managers. I had shared my screen to show a document. After a few seconds of them responding, I lost focus and did a ctrl/tab over to my chat to send a colleague a note. “Ben, I can still see your screen.” Palm-to-face. Even though they said it was no big deal, I know I lost a bit of trust from them in a microsecond. This story alone has helped keep me more focused during conversations as I never wish to return to that feeling!