Change of focus brings collaboration and caring

This has been a year like no other. It was year in which many of us were forced to change the way we conduct business and our go to market plans.

The Installation Products Division has a family of marquee brands, some established since the creation of Thomas & Betts in 1898. We have a long history in the electrical community including the invention of the Ty-Rap® also known as a cable tie. We are the leaders in power protection, especially in the industrial space. But in 2020, our ways of proceeding through plans and processes changed dramatically, practically overnight.

If you are in sales, this has been a year like no other. It was year in which many of us were forced to change the way we conduct business and our go to market plans. In-person events were cancelled, in-person interactions were limited. We needed to rethink our plans and how we moved forward and got back in the market safely. And we were not alone making changes to adapt to challenges, from our factories to distributors who sell our products, we all faced new protocols to help ensure the safety of our colleagues and constituents. This pandemic has provided some valuable lessons for better serving our customers, my team and our brand.

Collaborate for better business

Collaboration has been a key factor in continuing to run the business. By collaborating across the business functions, it’s allowing us to do business better. This new virtual world that we’re living in has played a huge part in that. In some cases, we used to wait until we were all in a room to have conversations and now, we’re in a room together…it’s just a virtual room. We’re seeing each other face-to-face and we’re getting together more often. Now that many are working from home offices, we are much more accessible than before. We make decisions faster. We are all in this together and together we will succeed.

Going in to 2021, I think the way we’ve done business has changed forever. The days of people flying across the country for a 1-hour meeting are over. We need to adjust and find new ways to stay close to our customers. Regardless of what happens, people still do business with people. While we can do virtual trainings and there is efficiency to them, I don’t think we’ll ever completely remove ourselves from the need to make personal customer connections which helps to foster trust in the brand.  The electrical industry is still a people business.

Care by being present in the moment

When I started my career, I wanted to be everything to everyone. I was always doing 20 things at one time. This isn’t sustainable and you can never fully engage in what you’re doing. Being present is so important. The connection with your teams, customers, and throughout the organization is more important than ever. Not because you need to, but because you want to. Whenever I’m on a conference call or meeting with someone, I turn off all my email, put away my phone, or take the call away from my computer if it is not video. I have a separate chair in my office that I sit in just to ensure I’m not tempted to multitask. I do this because I want to be present, I want to listen, lean in, and learn from those I’m talking with and I want them to know I care and that I’m engaged.

Trust in yourself and build up others

The other lesson is always having your team’s back. When I look back on my career and what the teams I’ve been part of have accomplished, we would go into a room and we challenge each other, we’d push back, we’d ask questions, we’d engage. We were really trying to push each other to make sure we were doing the right thing for the customer and for the business. But when we walked out of that meeting, we were completely aligned as a team. That alignment is truly the essence of a team and being able to accomplish the things we need to do.

In the 20 years I have been in the electrical industry, I have tried to mentor many and leave a positive impact wherever I go. That could mean increasing sales, building a stronger bench, or creating future leaders. I’m really proud to say that many of my colleagues are my personal friends. When you do business right, you care about people, and they trust you — you end up with friends for a lifetime.

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About the author

Christy Tilton

Christy joined ABB in early 2020 as the sales leader for U.S. Installation Products Division from Eaton with leadership in sales and experience driving results. She is an experienced leader with verifiable year-after-year success achieving revenue, profit, and business growth in the electrical and lighting industry across verticals, and increasing sales and growing the bottom line while focusing on operational improvements to drive productivity and reduce cost. Christy is currently involved in multiple associations, including Empower and the National Association of Women Distributors, and is a Strategic Advisory Board Member for Nemra.
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