Monday, 21 July 2014

When To Admit The Brief Does Not Belong To You

In my other life, I was a spa manager. We had exclusive franchises for some of the world's biggest perfumeries and luxury skincare products in Nigeria. These products, they could raise the dead, if you catch my drift. The benefits scribbled on the bottles sometimes made me choke. They promised all sorts of things - cellulite busting, tummy flattening, bust enlargement and firming, stretch marks correction, youth restoration; you name it. I supervised the selling but stuck to my very affordable Neutrogena; not like I had a choice anyway. Even if I wanted to use them, they were beyond my pay grade.

For my clients however, it was a trivial expense. It was at that spa I found out that there are people in this world, that conveniently spend 1.5 million naira on perfumes and body lotions.
I found out too, that some of these clients had major issues with their self-image. Their status in the society put immense pressure on them to look a certain way. More often than not, it had something to do with their skin and the way it looked. 

This particular lady walked in and I remember thinking, 'My goodness, she is gorgeous.' She said we came highly recommended. I said thank you. When I asked what I could help her with, her face fell. She talked about how she gave birth and how the baby really stretched her stomach and how she felt so unattractive and how she needed to fix the problem and how urgent it was that it be fixed. This woman was desperate. I asked if I could see her stomach. She lifted her blouse, pulled the waistband of her trousers down and it tumbled out; her stomach I mean. In my entire life, I have never seen a stomach so disfigured by childbirth. Knowing there was no product within that building that could solve her problem, my own face fell.

As gently as I could, I told her the truth. I said, 'We can't help you. The scarring on your stomach is beyond the stretch you see. None of our products can effectively address it.'  She looked like she was going to drop dead so I added, 'You can try some of our products tailored for stretch marks if you want...' She bought some products and left. 

I may have been sacked for missing such an amazing opportunity to make a killing but hey, there are times when you have to admit you are in over your head. When you cannot guarantee the results your client anticipates or yearns for, then the brief does not belong to you. No matter how attractive the returns may be, resist the urge to trade your reputation for a few morsels of bread.

©Naomi Lucas
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Freda said...

Great illustration Naomi! Incidentally I just got off a webinar that said practically the same thing. It was for business coaches and it talked about protecting your reputation by not taking on clients who you know you can't coach or would be difficult to coach. Thanks Naomi. This is like a double whammy for me!

Aderemi Fakunmoju said...

Been able to balance making profits and been the right counselor for existing/prospective customers helps to win both ways..... A reputable and successful company.

Olajide Olayemi said...

Nice 1 Naomi, you did the right thing by protecting the brand equity.

Naomi Lucas said...

Thanks Freda. That's the point really - to know what your limits are...

Naomi Lucas said...

Remi, well said. Like a friend will say, never think about your stomach during negotiations :)

Naomi Lucas said...

Thanks Olajide

Tessa Doghor said...

Integrity still matters
Big time
Good one.