A bi-monthly magazine dedicated to the Delta Electronics family in India, Southeast Asia and Australia.

Be the Salt of the Earth: Delta Industrial and Medical Power Sales Director Shares How to Lead with Effective and Productive Communication

By David Nakayama - Published January 23, 2024

Interview with Mr. Benjamin Tan, Delta IPSBU Sales Director
Photos by Delta IPSBU

Samutprakarn, Thailand, December 5, 2023- Sales are the tip of the spear for every business, and sales and marketing serve as the face of the company for partners and customers who buy all products, solutions and services. After decades of OEM/ODM sales for top global brands, Delta is diversifying our business and putting more focus on the sales of Delta brand products for regional and worldwide markets.

I recently got to sit down for a chat with Mr. Benjamin Tan, Delta IPSBU Sales Director, who shared milestones in his sales career spanning Southeast Asia and explained the key differences between our OEM/ODM and branded business. He also shared insights on the mindset and skillset necessary to be a leader that contributes to the company’s revenue and market growth. Most importantly, he stresses the importance of effective communication and flexibility to foster individual growth and team success.

Can you tell us about your background and your career journey?

I graduated in Singapore with a major in software programming and immediately started my career in sales. While I was still a student, I had done an internship in software programming sales, and I liked the opportunities for traveling in sales so when I graduated, I already knew what I wanted to be.

I began working in an engineering sales position in the aviation security industry. During seven years in this industry, my most notable project was one at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok from 2007 to 2009. I was the airport security project bid manager who put together the whole solution from parking access control to x-ray machines and explosive detectors. It was my first time working in Thailand where I met my wife who was the project coordinator at the Thailand office.

After this, I was at Sony Electronics for one year selling projectors, CCTV cameras and LED display products. Then in 2010, I joined Delta Thailand. Until then, I had never worked in a factory environment, so it was a big change for me.

As sales leader at Delta’s Industrial Power Supplies (IPS) BU, how did you drive business growth and what were some of the major milestones you led?

The BU had begun around 2008 so when I joined as a sales manager our business was still just starting. While we have been growing every year in the industrial and medical sectors, the growth rate is not as fast as other segments such as IT and consumer.

Our first major breakthrough in the industrial power sector came in 2012 when I worked with a leading German conglomerate to develop a range of price-competitive panel mount power supplies. After all these years, the product manager from this project and I are still good friends. He even invited me on a 100 km cycling trip in Germany over the weekend with his colleagues. We cycled from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM which was challenging but fun.

Then in 2018, we had a major breakthrough in the medical industry when the top Australian medical equipment company awarded us a project for 3 million pieces of medical power supplies per year. It was an extremely difficult customer to land because other than an exceptional technical and price proposal, we needed to set aside a dedicated engineering and project team just for them. Throughout the entire process, my BU Head Alan Chiang provided tremendous guidance and support that finally convinced the customer to award the project to Delta. These were the two major milestones for me.

As we all know, Delta is the world’s top power supply provider, and our OEM business is the main contributor. So, what are some key differences between the OEM and standard off-the-self power supply business models and markets?

At IPS, our biggest challenge is to decide the product specs for the market. This is in contrast to the OEM business where our customers give us their specs. Deciding our standard product specs takes close communication with customers and our channels as well as looking at the competition. All these factors play a part in how we decide to develop our products.

Generally, for off-the-shelf power supplies, we use the box-moving sales model, so we need to ship out our products as fast as possible at the lowest distribution cost. Our sales channels are wide and shallow with many partner relationships compared to ODM sales which has very limited but in-depth customer relationships.

Why is the standard power supply business important for Delta’s diversification, and what sectors are you focusing on to build Delta’s IPS brand business globally?

I think we can see that developing branded businesses like IPS is the path that every company has to embark on for long-term growth. We need to expand across industries and develop a brand name by putting the Delta brand on products and over time once a brand becomes more recognized, it can then move on to offering integrated solutions.

This is also a company growth strategy. We can first use simple products to enter the market where the barrier to entry is low and then when the product name is more well-known we can go on to offer solutions. In the case of IPS, we see that the market for industrial and medical power is always growing because of trends like aging societies and the need to maintain quality in production. So, it’s all about being there first and building a strong footprint in the market.

What advantages do Delta brand power supply products have in terms of technology and production scale from our OEM business, and how are you leveraging these advantages to build the Delta brand?

Delta prides itself in five key pillars: 1. Technology 2. Quality 3. Responsiveness 4. Delivery 5. Cost-effectiveness. Our long experience in the OEM business model means we can work closely with customers to develop innovative products. We are also used to listening to our customers closely and knowing what they want.

Congratulations on winning the Delta SEA Sales award for leading IPS to growth. Can you share with us your top secrets for customer success and team management?

We focused on medical power because since 2010 when we saw a trend of more industrial power supplies coming out with medical certifications. We now have key account managers who work closely with our medical equipment manufacturer customers.

To be a successful salesperson we should find the right customers and then know how to go about getting the customer engaged. We must be the bridge between the company and the customers, especially when issues arise in quality, delivery or pricing. So, the job of sales is really to be a good bridge and understand what the customer wants and communicate to reach a solution or come to a compromise for a mutual win-win.

Often salespeople can’t find the right balance between taking the customer’s side and the company’s side because there will always be a difference between what our customer wants and what we can actually do. That’s why we need effective communication to find the right balance and move forward.

This is why it’s very important to be effective in all our communications and actions. This shows we are treating the customer with respect, and they are given priority. If whatever we do is effective and do as we say, then issues can be solved in the quickest time possible, especially when working with international teams. When managing teams, effective communication provides clarity with minimal misunderstandings.

What are some of the most impactful marketing strategies you have implemented with your teams to add value for Delta?

Because we are essentially selling a technical product, having regular in-depth product training sessions for our partners is all important. Solving the customer’s technical problems or pain points helps with our overall relationship building and boosts our brand value.

As a Delta leader in Southeast Asia, do you have any tips for building a rewarding career and life abroad?

What is most important is to like what you are doing. For me, it really doesn’t matter what the product or company is. I simply like traveling and meeting people. If I have to knock on a customer’s door today, I have no fear, so nothing is holding me back from going ahead and doing it.

I also believe that an effective manager must be well-read to hold meaningful conversations with customers. I read newspapers every day and try to stay updated on industry, world news, politics, technology or business developments. You should be flexible, as there are always surprises in life. So keep your eyes on the goal and enjoy the journey at the same time.

How do you balance building a career and spending time with family? What are some ways you can use your experience as a parent to enhance your leadership?

As much as possible, I avoid working on weekends, and instead try to spend it with my family I believe no one is born to be a parent or a leader so it’s all about learning to communicate and be flexible. I am still struggling to improve on this aspect.

It’s important to ask questions to understand. Because managers are often pressed for time, they can have a habit of not asking questions but merely giving instructions. Yet in order for the team to grow there must be flexibility in the methods they use to reach the team goals.

Finally, is there anything you would like to share with your Delta colleagues around the world?

Be like salt. Effective and productive. The presence of salt must not be overwhelming, yet it must be felt when it is missing. Just a pinch of salt will make your dish delicious but when it’s missing, somehow the dish just doesn’t seem right.

I think every person should be like this essential condiment of life. Everything you say or do should have sincere intent and add value, otherwise your words or actions carry little weight and don’t lead to any impact. So, let’s be known at Delta as real “Salt of the Earth” folks with the best values at our core.

David Nakayama

About the Author (Editorial Team)

David Nakayama

If content is king, there must be a kingmaker. And the universal theme in my favorite stories is our innate human desire for freedom. I have a master’s degree in Chinese education and experience spanning industries and countries. As the Comms guy at DET, I’m obsessed with the stories behind our products and people. Share your stories with me  https://www.linkedin.com/in/yushi-david-nakayama/

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Rupesh Kumar Tandon   February 07, 2024 at 16:04:09 pm

Very well said, each and every point replied very aptly and true in my opinion for all aspects that were covered in interview. Well Done !!!


admin   February 08, 2024 at 08:43:51 am

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the interview. Stay tuned for more content!

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