What I’ve Learned: Ron GilcreasePosted 1/23/2017
Vice President of National Accounts, XtraLight Manufacturing
Your reputation is built by promises kept. People with good intentions make promises. People with good character keep them.
Developing a personal relationship with your clients and understanding their needs is the key to success in any continuing relationship sales environment. I’m not a transaction salesperson; I’m a relationship salesperson. Being a transactional salesperson means closing the sale today. A relationship-based sale approach means closing scores of wins over years because of earned trust and respect.
Your spouse is your partner in success. Much of my career has required me to be available seven days a week and twenty four hours a day and involved traveling over 100 nights a year. While that’s great for frequent flier miles and free hotel nights, it can be damaging to relationships and your real life. I am grateful that my wife has always had the patience and support to handle our real life issues when I wasn’t able to do so. I have been able to focus my efforts on my career only because she’s always focused on keeping our home, daughter and personal life balanced.
Work ethic is best trained by example. My dad was always an inspiration to me because of his unfailing optimism and incredible work ethic. He retired from a successful career at age 59 and reinvented himself in his second career. He told me when he was 81 that he had decided to work only half time [laughs]! He said the challenge was trying to figure out which 12 hours each day he was going to take off.
Pick your partners carefully—bad partnerships can be like bad marriages. In my early career I entered into a partnership and, over time, found that my partner did not share my work ethic, values and vision. It was an experience I learned from, but would never want to repeat. Take time to make sure the relationship is right before taking the plunge into the financial and emotional commitment that opening and running a business together entails. Divorcing a partner can be an expensive and disruptive distraction in your business.
Listen more and judge less. I’ve always been passionate about business and particularly about taking care of clients. That passion sometimes had unintended consequences—especially in my earlier career, I was often impatient with co-workers and was not as forgiving or supportive as I should have been. I wish I’d learned to be kinder earlier in life.
Be active in your industry. Industry participation is rewarding personally and professionally. Many of those I served with have become lifelong friends, and the relationships I developed have been a large part of any success I’ve enjoyed in my career.
Have a little fun every day. Life is short and we spend so much of it at work. Make some time to enjoy your co-workers, your clients, and your vendors. Share a meal, a sporting event or special trip. Make memories with these important people in your life.
The quality of the time is more important than the quantity of the time. I was 37 years old when my wife and I decided to adopt our daughter. I was concerned how I would fit being a father into my life, but it was the greatest decision of my life! I’ve found that setting aside time that was just for her made a huge difference in helping overcome the times we could not be together. All the times I’ve shared only with her have created a strong father-daughter bond.