Is Kindness….seen as a weakness?

I am a retail agent, I assist companies with getting their products reviewed and accepted by mass retailers.

I recently had a client that said he mistakenly assigned another rep to a retailer he and I had a contract with, and would we exclude this account from our sales roster and allow his “other rep” to have the account.

Sure, out of the spirit of partnership.  We wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, and release this very small account as a good faith gesture.

OOPS! Did I set myself up as being weak? I think so…

Well, a few weeks later….he came back and said he did the same thing with a really large account (Wal-Mart) and that he was sorry but could we release this account to the other rep as well. Hell NO!

So my question is this…in business is kindness sometimes seen as a weakness? Hell YES!

I realize that everyone should enter into any business, or personal, relationship with the upmost integrity. Sometimes, however, some struggle with that.  So what do you do? In this instance, my team and I had a meeting and decided that in fact we were not going to allow this transfer. We contacted the client….laid the law….kindly…..and pointed out that he had a contractual obligation to us and that we would not honor this, nor any more, requests . He backed off and luckily, it all worked out for the best. Actually, we partnered with his other “rep” to build our mutual contact list even bigger, worked out a great deal for the client at Wal-Mart….and all is good.

Moral of the story: never let anyone interpret your kindness for weakness. Make the parameters clear upfront, let your integrity guide you, and stick to your guns in tricky situations.  Try to make the best of any situation, never enter it in the defense mode…and always remember that it takes a community to bring a product to market!


Kim Babjak


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