We are drawn to things that are unexpected, different, and new. Novelty is something that differentiates something from others similar to it. Our society is drawn to “the latest and greatest.” Likewise, the old and common tends to turn us off. As a language provider, you may find it difficult to imagine how you can incorporate newness into your brand. However, changes do not have to be sweeping and broad. Subtle differences in your approach, selling strategy, and marketing design are enough to trigger feelings of interest in your target just by the simple “newness” of the experience. It is fun to discover and explore things that are new and different. So give your clients that opportunity, and you will find their interest in your brand piqued.
Recent studies have shown that what we like to think of as “multi-tasking” doesn’t really exist—our brain can only really focus on one thing at a time. When you are giving a pitch or presentation, the smallest little detail has the ability to distract your prospect and focus his or her mind elsewhere. A distracted prospect may well miss your selling point and leave disinterested. Make sure you know how to control your market’s attention so your marketing strategy has the greatest effectiveness. Regardless of your amazing message, it means nothing if your market isn’t paying attention. You can keep tabs on your target’s attentiveness by periodically asking open-ended questions. You can also make movements with your body and hands to focus your audience’s attention right where you want it.
Your clients and prospects will most likely be conducting an online search of you before even considering your services. What will they find when they Google your name or business? Something as simple and silly as an embarrassing photograph or a personal twitter account that shows you acting unprofessionally can be enough to immediately turn off your prospects and make them look elsewhere. So be sure that, when your name is Googled, nothing embarrassing or unprofessional appears in the results. If something incriminating does come up, do whatever you can to make it private or take it off the Internet. Take this Googling approach one step further and create amazing, compelling content that appears at the very top of the results page. This is called search engine optimization and can be extremely beneficial to your brand.
You can learn a lot by glancing at a picture for a few quick seconds. Pictures are easy to comprehend (most of the time) and fun. While many people love to read, the same can’t be said about words. It takes much longer to fully grasp a concept when only text is involved. When people look at a block of text, they probably won’t want to take the time to read it. Everybody loves pictures. Not to mention, we tend to trust pictures more than we do a block of text, so use this to your advantage when marketing. Think about infographics, or newspaper photographs. To make your marketing material more interesting, and to increase the chances that people will pay attention to it and trust what you have to say, include pictures whenever and wherever you can.
Cold calling is not for everybody. Going up to someone you don’t know and then trying to sell your services to them isn’t much better. Whenever you can, try to have a third party that knows both you and your prospect introduce the two of you. This third party can vouch for both of you, giving your prospect an immediate reason to trust you. Your contact, whether in person, on the phone, or online, will feel more relaxed talking to you, and thus will be more willing to listen to what you have to say. So, if you see someone you would like to reach out to, before you go and contact them on your own, try to find someone that both of you know to introduce the two of you. Social media can help you a lot here.
There is something you have that will set you apart from your competition. Your job is to find out exactly what that is, and use it to your advantage to market yourself. Superior quality, efficient time-management, and excellent organizational skills all sound like great qualities to boast about, but it’s not enough to separate yourself from others. Marketing will be a lot easier when you focus on this one unique, authentic aspect of yourself. You may have an idea of exactly what your advantage may be but have no clue how to market it. Think about how your difference is beneficial to your clients. Why does your difference add value? Are you the linguist that has this unique aspect? Let your market know these things, and set yourself apart from the competition.
You are going to be having many conversations with many different people. It might be tough to remember a lot about them other than their name and profession. A great way to stand out from your competition and really impress your prospects and clients is to remember little, specific, and seemingly insignificant details about them. If they mention that they have children, write it down. If they come from a family full of chefs, write that down, too. Keep notes on the people you talk to, and incorporate what you have learned into future interactions with them. Send a handwritten card if a prospect mentions that he or she won’t be able to do anything work-related for a few weeks because of a death or illness in the family. A client may mention how much he or she loves a certain painter. In a later conversation, talk about how you happened to see a painting by that same artist and were reminded of your client. This is a great way to show your clients that you care about them. If people feel that you are motivated by good intentions and a kind heart, they will warm up to you and may find excuses to do business with you.
There are many reasons why a client will leave you, but client loss from general dissatisfaction is something you should control. When appropriate, and whenever possible, find out how your clients feel about your services. What are they happy with? What could you be doing better? Find out if there are any systems in place that are inconvenient to them. The most important point here is to ask your clients these questions during the process. Don’t wait until the end to find out if your client was satisfied or not—you risk losing a potential long-term relationship opportunity. Be honest, and, at all costs, avoid being defensive! This is a good strategy to differentiate between clients that may be unhappy because they believe you were in error and those that are simply just too demanding. Then, you can try to work out an arrangement to save a good relationship and end the ones that are unfairly overworking you.
If you can provide your clients with amazing value, they will actually be less sensitive to your price. The more you are able to help them achieve their own business objectives and goals, the more of an asset you become to their organization. You may be asking yourself, “How, as a language service provider, could I possibly help clients excel in their business?” Sure, you can save a client money by offering low rates. But bargain prices are not enough to differentiate yourself from others and grow as a business. Not to mention, how will you make money? As a language service provider, you need to offer your clients value. Show them that they absolutely need you in some way. Communicate that, with you on board, they can accomplish their business goals much easier and effectively.
Your client’s business may have a specific way of doing things that increases their productivity and maximizes their efficiency. If a client asks you to do something their way, you should consider doing it, even if it makes things more difficult for you. Leave your clients happy, and they will be more likely to come back. After all, it is much easier to maintain your regular clients than it is to acquire new ones. An excellent translation is not always enough to keep people coming back for more. You need to go above and beyond to work with your clients in ways that save them time and money.
…like a secret discount, a “freebie”, or special assistance. Offer to help a client look for services outside of your range of work. After meeting a prospect who seems like a promising but “on the fence” future client, give him or her your business card and handwrite on it a special something “just for them”. A little “extra something” is enough to make your services stick out, and gives prospects a reason to want to remember you. Maybe they don’t need your services now, but with a personalized special something in hand, they will want to keep your business in mind.
Let’s say you have a client that wants a project to be completed in a month. You know that this particular project is fairly simple, and it probably won’t take you more than a day or two. When your client asks you if you can have the project ready in 30 days, it looks good on your part to say, “Yes, I can” and then deliver it a day or two early. Your client will be impressed with your time-management and efficiency skills, without ever knowing that the project took you a day. In other words, try to refrain from telling your prospects or clients the details about how long a project takes to work on. Let your clients suggest the deadlines, and they will appreciate you more for getting things done early.
Don’t tell your clients or prospects how many other clients you have or how many projects you happen to be working on at any given moment. You run the risk of telling them a number that is too small—making your client question why more people aren’t buying from you—or too large—worrying your client that, you might become so frazzled from your workload, you may deliver an inferior product to them. While, in some instances, it is okay to tell a prospect about specific, significant clients that you may be working with, don’t go spilling all the details about the projects and agreements that you have with them. Your clients may not appreciate your breach of confidentiality, so keep that kind of stuff to yourself.
If you come to a point where you have a solid regular client base, you may feel that you can tone down your new-client marketing efforts. And, yes, it may look good to be able to say, “Sorry, we can’t take any new clients right now.” It makes prospects think, “What could you possibly have to offer that is so good, you have to turn down more money?” However, even if your situation is such that you really cannot take on any new clients, you should never stop “looking” for new clients. What would happen if you lost one or more of your regulars? Finding new clients is a lot more difficult than getting past ones to come back. So, always keep an eye out for new potential clients and prospects. You never know when you might need them.
You work in the language and communication industry. People expect your reading and writing skills in all areas of your life to be impeccable—it’s your job, after all. If you can’t communicate well, then how are people going to expect you to do your job correctly? A typo in a local family restaurant’s menu, while it may make us giggle in amusement, is not going to keep us from coming back. However, a grammatical or syntactical error in one of your emails, for example, can make you look careless and unprofessional. Make sure you revise and proofread everything you write, whether it’s a casual, one-sentence email or a 20-page proposal. If you write your texts and emails without punctuation, start making it a habit to write them grammatically correct. After all, the last thing you want is to have your carefully constructed brand and image to be dented by something as simple as a comma.
Your clients are responsible for your job and income. Without them, you would be out of work! If you have a client that has repeatedly hired you, show your appreciation with a small gift or a personal “thank you” Even if you don’t have any regular clients, just the fact that someone purchased your services is enough to warrant some appreciation on your part. Let your clients know that you care about them. Showing them your sentimental human side is also a great way to build the foundation for a long-term business relationship.
A beautifully written wordy email or lengthy voicemail message explaining every small detail about a project, proposal, or value offer may seem like the proper thing. After all, you’re being clear and informative, right? Turns out, this is pretty much the opposite of what you should do. Long emails, phone calls, and voicemails are exasperating to deal with. Your client or prospect most likely has a lot of work to do and projects to deal with, and reading through paragraphs of fluff is simply a waste of time. Keep your messages short and to the point. Be respectful of your clients’ time; try to say as much as you can clearly and in as few words as possible.
Featured article published by The ATA Chronicle (January 2014).
By Marcela Reyes
In today’s business world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to make yourself competitive, especially as a translator. More and more freelancers are being added to the market, so what can you do to make yourself stand out in a sea of many? A great place to start your differentiating process is by creating a professional portfolio. A portfolio is an invaluable tool in more ways than one. But what exactly is it, and exactly how can it help you?
What Is a Portfolio?
A portfolio is simply a collection of your work that can be used to market your language services, apply for a job, highlight your professional experience, or document what you have learned. As a translator, you need a portfolio to create the link between what you can do and what the prospective client or organization wants from you. Your professional portfolio will distinguish you from the competition. It will clearly highlight your experience and demonstrate that you are serious about your career as a translator and your job search. It will show examples of your unique strengths and pique the interest of your potential clients or employers. In addition, it will help you build confidence in what you can do.
How Can Your Portfolio Help You?
What are your professional activities, and what are the outcomes of those activities? Are you documenting them adequately so others can see your contributions? Do your activities and the outcomes they produce match your profession? What do you need to change or enhance about what you do and the outcomes you document? A professional portfolio will be an immense help in answering these questions constructively. It helps you keep track of everything you have done in your career as a professional translator or interpreter and points out where you should go next. Most importantly for freelancers, it will definitely get you attention and help you stand out from the crowd.
The Importance of Your Unique Value Proposition
Before you embark on creating your professional portfolio, you must first identify your value proposition—a clear statement in line with the market’s challenges and your desires, communicating the unique contribution you and your services are providing that is different from your competitors. Try to answer the question, “Why should I do business with you and not someone else?” Your unique value proposition must appeal to the client’s strongest decision-making drivers. It should be believable, authentic, and specific. Once you have a statement that you are confident communicates your value, you have the basis on which to build your professional portfolio. Like a classic novel that has a specific theme or overall message, your unique value proposition should pervade your portfolio. Whoever is reading it should get an overall sense of your value without your having to state it explicitly. Read more…
Put your contact information everywhere. Make sure your emails are signed with your phone number and other relevant contact info. Your blog, twitter account, facebook, business cards, voicemail, and everywhere else you have some sort of presence should have this information in an easy-to-find and obvious location. The slightest difficulty or inconvenience is enough to send a prospect elsewhere. If you are out of the office, even for a short period of time, and can’t respond to an email, create some sort of auto-reply that has another way to contact you along with information detailing when you will be back.
Just because it’s the holiday season for many of us, it doesn’t mean you have to lower your prices to create excitement. After all, do you really want to create a black Friday or Cyber Monday pricing crisis. Once you lower your prices it is extremely difficult to raise them, Holiday or not. You’re a professional, and it’s up to you to make sure that you give your clients their money’s worth without selling yourself short. Compromising your fees just because it’s the Holiday season should never be a consideration. You need to increase your sales and marketing activities during the holiday season, not discount your value. Let the retail world do the Holiday promotions, not you! Happy Holidays!
This may seem like an obvious piece of advice, but there are too many translators and LSPs who leave voicemail messages without having a strategy, and sit around hoping for a reply. Chances are, if you are not getting a reply from a client or a prospect, you shouldn’t keep calling them and expecting differently. Instead, after leaving a voicemail, send them an e-mail clearly stating your request for a phone call appointment. Be sure to state how you can help them meet a specific need, then be sure to to say you will be calling them back. A follow-up e-mail is much more tangible than a voicemail. This will also make it more convenient for your prospect to reach out to you—emails are easier and less time-consuming to respond to. Not to mention, once you set up a formal appointment, your client will be more compelled to keep the appointment—this is a formal appointment, after all, not just some telemarketer giving you a ring.
Before you go chasing leads, make sure you know what they do. Have an understanding of your prospects and leads possible needs and problems before you contact them. Be knowledgeable about what exactly their company does, and what kinds of benefits they provide to their clients or customers. Imagine how appealing you look to them, if your services promise to help them make money, save money or time, gain competitive advantage or market share, or simply make their life or job easier and look good. Contacting a prospect without any prior knowledge makes you look like a greedy, lazy salesman who didn’t think researching these facts was worth your time. And once you give off this impression, you might as well walk away forever.
When marketing yourself, definitive wording and phrasing that emphasizes what you can, will, and definitely do can incite doubt or resistance. Now, it is important to note that using these declarative statements can give you more of an air of confidence. However, skillful incorporation less certain words, such as should, might, depending on, and usually can give you a helpful credibility boost. Many people reject forceful openings—just as you ignore the promises of spam messages in your inbox. A softer approach will show your prospectives that you recognize that each person’s individual situation is unique. This creates an opportunity to find out what exactly the situation of your prospective is. After all, how can your potential clients expect to gain anything from your work if you don’t know their specific problems?
The main reason your clients purchase from you is because you offer translation services. However, they will be happy to take more if you can provide it to them. You probably have associates, insight, information, and other similar resources that you can share. So make these things open and available to your clients. People want as much as they can get from you, because to them, they deserve it. Think of this extra “stuff” as an integral part of your value package. Because you have much more to offer than simply language services, your value increases. The ultimate goal is to make your clients truly feel they are getting taken care of in a way that is beyond the simple translation job. So give your clients knowledge they might not learn otherwise—information that they didn’t think they needed. The more you have to offer beyond the simple language service, the better.
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You should always be aware of what your clients’ expectations of you are. That is key. However, you should also make it clear to them what you expect from them. Don’t let your clients dictate your success entirely—this is your business! Let them know how you expect them to handle difficult situations, and disagreements. If a client breaks an agreement or decides that something should be changed, you should be willing to work with the client only to the degree that it doesn’t negatively affect your business. With proper communication and planning, you can make sure that you deliver what you promise without surprises, keep people satisfied, and ensure that your clients know what is expected of them. Your clients have an obligation to work within the confines of your services and operations, and it’s up to your to make sure that they know this.
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You should be keeping an organized log of the prospective clients you meet. While periodically reminding the people on this list of your existence may be helpful, you should also be keeping them updated on your latest projects. Every once in a while, you should contact them and bring them up to date on what you have been doing. Perhaps a client who once thought they needed a translator with more experience, will suddenly consider you for a project once they see what you have been up to. A short, simple, personalized email should be enough. Simply state who you are, and list the latest projects you have been working on. Just be sure that your emails are spaced out enough so that they don’t become annoying.
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Written testimonials on your blog or website are a great way to build credibility. How many times have you read the online reviews of a product or doctor before committing? Asking for feedback can be uncomfortable, but you probably won’t get any unless you ask for it. So when is the right time to pose the question? Your clients are more likely to give you honest, favorable feedback after a job well done. So if you find a client calling you after a project, thanking you for solving their problem, or even for delivering it on time, take the opportunity to ask for a testimonial. If they agree, thank them and let them know that you will send them more information through email. Alternatively, you could also send out surveys after you complete projects. Those clients who are particularly happy or upset with your work are more likely to fill them out. But keep in mind that getting client feedback is a favor on their part, so make it easy for them.
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One of the many benefits of specializing is that it allows you to become really involved with the industry in which you work. Once you get to really know an industry, you have a special bank of intellectual resources. If you specialize, as a marketing tool consider writing a newsletter or e-zine you can send to your clients. Because you know enough about what they do and how they work, you can create something of interest for them (and with your name at the bottom). Even if the content has little to do with translation, the fact that you are providing clients with information they want will make you look really great.
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Featured article published by MultiLingual Computing in the December 2013 issue.
Your sales team is on the front line of your business, and in theory, companies could even sell more by adding more members to their sales teams. However, it is significantly more profitable and efficient to have a solid group of highly skilled, high-performance sales professionals. This is where sales training and coaching comes in. And this is why companies are investing heavily in training their sales teams.
However, the training is not always effective. The American Society for Training and Development notes that one week after sales training, the average salesperson will lose up to 70% of the new skills that he or she learned but did not use. In a separate but non-public study, a global US-based language service provider found that after a month, 87% of the new skills learned during sales training, whether or not they were used in practice, were lost. So why are companies spending so much money if the return on investment is so low? And why isn’t it working?
The answer is that it’s hard to make a significant impact in a few hours. Even three days of intense training won’t do much to change a sales team in the long run. People tend to revert back to their old ways. Even if the training is highly specific, with clearly defined goals, methods and expectations, oftentimes there still won’t be a significant change in a sales team.
The problem isn’t that the training content is wrong or that your sales team is unmotivated. Most sales methodologies provide sound fundamentals in selling, and most people really want to succeed. Many sales executives are highly motivated and excited to implement new sales knowledge into their practice. During sales training, many people feel “pumped up” with excitement and imagine their future sales increasing with the help of their new skills. Unfortunately, too often, this excitement is short-lived, as reality sets in and they revert back to old ways.
This is all pretty normal. Have you ever been deeply moved by a sad movie or an inspirational story — so much so that you vowed, at that moment, to change your behavior in some way, only to find yourself forgetting about it days and sometimes even moments later? Look at traditional sales training the same way, as a variation of an inspirational story…
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The reason why there are so many similar words in the English language is because each individual word carries a special and unique connotation. Think of the difference between house and home. The word home carries much more emotion than house and evokes a different and more sentimental response. Strong, emotional words can be beneficial to your mission when used in the right context. However, be careful not to use them in situations where decision-making and analytical thinking are required. An emotional response is usually one that is subconscious and can override reasoning and attention. Use strong and powerful words in the wrong circumstances, and you may find yourself with an emotionally distracted client.
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If you are a newbie in the translation industry and lack the necessary experience to promote your services, you can always sharpen your skills while contributing to better, more connected communities around the globe.
Here are some great organizations where you can find volunteer opportunities as a translator.
- Translations for Progress. Translations for Progress’s mission is to facilitate communication within the global grass roots community and to create opportunities for language students and professionals to get involved in social issues.
- Givology.org. Givology is a 100% volunteer-run social enterprise that connects an Internet user to grassroots education projects and student scholarships around the world.
- Babels. Babels is an online giving marketplace where any Internet user can browse and sponsor students and education projects in the developing world.
- Ashoka.org. Ashoka is an organization that supports social entrepreneurship and citizen changemaking. Its mission is to identify and support leading social entrepreneurs through a social venture capital approach with the goal of elevating the citizen sector to a competitive level equal to the business sector.
- Idealist.org. Idealist, run by Action Without Borders, allows nonprofit organizations to post event information, volunteering opportunities, jobs, resources and services. Individuals can then search this information and sign up for volunteer opportunities, apply for jobs, etc. The website also provides information produced by the nonprofit itself, such as information on volunteering abroad.
- Translators Without Borders. Translators Without Borders is a non-profit association set up to provide pro bono translation services for humanitarian non-profits. Today it assists organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders, who are then able to use the funds they save to extend their humanitarian work.
- United Nations Volunteers. The UNV Online Volunteering Service connects volunteers with organizations working for sustainable human development. Volunteers contribute their skills online to help organizations address development challenges. Organizations collaborate with online volunteers over the Internet to strengthen the impact of their development work.
- World Volunteer Web. The World Volunteer Web, operated by the Online Volunteering Service of the United Nations, supports the volunteer community by serving as a global clearinghouse for information and resources linked to volunteerism that can be used for campaigning, advocacy and networking. It is an online hub where the community can meet, share resources and coordinate activities to mobilize volunteer action in support of the Millennium Development Goals. With a constituency comprised of over 20,000 organizations and individuals, the World Volunteer Web helps to catalyze partnerships among volunteer stakeholders from all continents.
- Watching America. Watching America reflects global opinion about the United States, helping Americans and non-Americans alike understand what the world thinks of current issues that involve the U.S. This is done by providing news and views about the United States published in other countries.
- The Rosetta Foundation. The Rosetta Foundation supports the not-for-profit activities of the localization and translation communities. It works, internationally with those who want to provide equal access to information across languages, independent of economic or market considerations, including localization and translation companies, technology developers, not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations.
- Kiva.org. Kiva.org is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend to an entrepreneur in the developing world. The Kiva Translation Program offers the opportunity to use your skills to make a direct contribution, network with other Kiva volunteers and build your resume. Volunteering from their own homes, Kiva volunteers translate entrepreneurs’ profiles into English, which are then posted for funding at Kiva.org.
- TED. The TED Open Translation Project brings TEDTalks beyond the English-speaking world by offering subtitles, interactive transcripts and the ability for any talk to be translated by volunteers worldwide.
- VolunteerMatch. VolunteerMatch is an American nonprofit organization, best known for its web services, that aims to strengthen communities by making it easier for people to find good causes. The organization also partners with businesses to provide tools and services to help companies, brands, campuses and government successfully manage volunteer programs and support corporate social responsibility initiatives. VolunteerMatch works with a broad range of clients in technology, manufacturing, packaged goods, financial services and other industries. Since its launch in 1998, the organization has won several awards for its innovative approach to social change, its social impact, and its sustainable business model.
- Free Software Foundation Europe. Free Software Foundation Europe’s goal is to reach as many people as possible and include them in their activities to promote, help and support the Free Software movement. To achieve this, they want to make their published texts and website available in several languages.
- Global Voices. Global Voices Online is an international network of bloggers, translators, and citizen journalists that follow, report, and summarize what is going on in the blogosphere in every corner of the world.
- Human Rights Education Associates. Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) is an international non-governmental organization that supports human rights learning; the training of activists and professionals; the development of educational materials and programming; and community-building through on-line technologies. HREA is dedicated to quality education and training to promote understanding, attitudes and actions to protect human rights, and to foster the development of peaceable, free and just communities.
- ICVolunteers. ICVolunteers is an international non-profit organization specializing in the field of communication. It recruits, trains and coordinates volunteers for non-profit projects (conference support, cyber-volunteering, language services), both for its own programs and in the context of support provided to its partners.
- Indigenous Peoples’ Center for Documentation, Research and Information (doCip). A quadrilingual center, liaising Indigenous peoples with international organizations, that works with all Indigenous communities and organizations who request help and provides services in English, French, Spanish and Russian.
- International Children’s Digital Library. The ICDL Foundation’s goal is to build a collection of books that represents outstanding historical and contemporary books from throughout the world. Ultimately, the Foundation aspires to have every culture and language represented so that every child can know and appreciate the riches of children’s literature from the world community.
- Khan Academy. Khan Academy is a non-profit educational website. Its mission is to provide “a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.”
- Migrants Rights International. Migrants Rights International (MRI) is a non-governmental organization and federation of migrants and migrants’ rights organizations, trade unions and faith-based groups within the various global regions promoting and defending the human rights of migrants.
- National Language Service Corps. The National Language Service Corps (NLSC) is a nonprofit civilian organization administered by the U.S. federal government. The mission of the NLSC is to recruit a readily-available pool of individuals who have expertise in languages that are important to the security and welfare of the nation.
- One Laptop per Child. The mission of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is to create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning.
- Future Actually. This is a community of translators and interpreters who don’t merely view their profession as a way of making money, but as an opportunity to do what they love: helping people understand each other.
If you know of any other volunteer organizations, please share them here.
As a freelancer, it can be tricky to get clients to pay on time, or even at all. Sometimes, you may find a client arguing that your work was not up to par, demanding that you accept a lower payment. To avoid this, make sure your contract is detailed and thorough. Verbal agreements are never enough—always put everything in writing. Be specific about the required payment due and make sure to include that it is nonnegotiable after completed. Also, use the invoice to your advantage. Be clear about when payment is due, and what methods of payment you accept. Most importantly, be polite. As a freelancer, many times you cannot afford a late payment. So be an effective communicator and make it easy for your clients to pay on time, so that you can get paid.
Many sales models focus on one of these factors, sometimes even a combination of two or three. However, all four are necessary to effectively sell your brand. What types of problems do your clients have, and why? How and why are they seeking out a translation service? How can you help them? Finally, what is the benefit? What are your clients going to gain from working with you? These are all questions that you should be able to answer clearly and effectively. Show your market that your method is powerful. Allow people to clearly see that working with you is going to help them, and how.
They used to tell kids trying to get into a good college to be “well-rounded”. Well, it seems like the schools have caught on and now prefer more unique students—such as the insect aficionado or the piano prodigy. If your language business boasts about perfect translations in a bunch of different languages and in every industry people will be skeptical of your proficiency in every area. Many translation jobs have very specific lingo, and if you have never worked in a particular super-specific field, chances are you’ll get the translation wrong. However, if you specialize in a specific field, you gain the opportunity to become an expert in the lingo of that industry. Everyone loves an expert, a title that makes people trust in the bearer’s abilities. Choose an industry that many other translators have not, and you might just be able to score a monopoly on all translations coming from it. After all, it’s much easier to compete for business when you have no competitors.
Use the persuasion tricks a little too heavily and your clients will see right through you, putting your credibility at risk. Oftentimes, being clear and concise, while providing sufficient information, is more helpful than persuading your client a certain way. Regardless of the way you present your services, your work stays the same. So make sure you are presenting your work with clarity, and try to make the clear presentation of your services a priority. When given enough details about what you do, your prospective clients will be able to make educated decisions about what they are buying. Conversely, if you spend too much effort trying to persuade them that your services are the best, your listeners may end up being confused about what exactly it is you can do for them.
Nobody likes a show-off. Why do you think people always root for the underdog? Having faith in your abilities and exuding confidence are necessary for success, but boasting is definitely not okay. Show humility when you make a mistake. When you acknowledge what you did wrong, people will be both surprised and impressed with your honesty. Pretending to be infallible will only make you look unprofessional and unreliable. There is an immense amount of value in honesty and humility. People trust in those who are sincere. Not to mention, when you learn from your mistakes, you can communicate those experiences and offer perspectives to others. So make sure you are being an honest businessperson. Others will see that in you, and your credibility will increase.
You are the professional, and it’s up to you to make sure that you give your clients their money’s worth without selling yourself short. Many clients want to haggle, complain, and bargain for a lower price. They may threaten to take their business elsewhere. Many translators and LSPs have a tendency to cave in—and larger clients know this and will take advantage of it. Don’t let this be you! Compromising your fees just because someone doesn’t want to pay full price should never be a consideration. You need to know how to stand strong and hold the line with your prices so that your clients don’t end up getting something for nothing. Think about big-name businesses out there. They don’t let clients dictate their prices. So you shouldn’t either.
There are reasons why your language business isn’t growing exactly how you want it to. You may have big ideas, hopes, and specific goals for yourself that you just don’t see coming true anytime soon. Why? Your answer should never be, “I don’t know.” It’s time to stop and think about the less-than-exciting things about your business. Specifically, you have to identify and make a list of your weaknesses. Every business has some rough areas, but what exactly is holding YOU back. Be totally honest with yourself, and take the time to make note of areas where you need work. Once you can physically see your problems in front of you, you can start devising practical solutions. If you’re bad at something, don’t just wallow in pity; work at it! The only way to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be is to state your goal and identify your challenges.
In today’s competitive language industry, quality is a given. So when faced with the decision to choose a translator, what exactly is the motivating factor? You can be sure that it is definitely not the quality of the translation. Your clients are not interested in the actual process of translation—so don’t talk about it! Instead, your clients want to know what you can do for them; how you can solve their problem. Most translation buyers look for language services because they have a particular need and hope you and your offering can satisfy that need. Perhaps by translating a particular document, your client is expecting to reduce the on-the-job accident rate. Others may need your services to make money, gain competitive advantage, or increase market share. So whatever exactly your client’s “problem” is, make sure you are communicating how you can offer a solution. That’s the value of your translation services.
There are many associations in the language industry that you can become involved with. These are excellent resources that allow you to meet other people in and learn extensively about the industry. Associations keep you in the loop about the latest conferences, software, and workshops. Many also have magazine subscriptions that are a part of your membership. Not to mention, having an association membership is a credential of sorts. Showing that you are a part of one will make you look like a professional part of a team, and will help show clients that you are serious about your work. Eventually, you may even want to consider holding a leadership position in one, or writing an article for an associations’ magazine. The language industry is large, and there are many resources to take advantage of. So consider joining one or more of these associations!
This is one of the most overlooked methods of marketing and promotion that a business has access to. And it’s so simple! Not only are articles inexpensive to write, but they also give you a chance to show people what you have to offer, how you can help them, and why you are an expert in your industry. The number of places that you can submit your article is vast—blogs, community newspapers, trade journals, association magazines, and newsletters are all examples. Article marketing is great for self-promotion and increasing visibility. As long as your write relevant material that provides value to your readers, you will succeed. When you use this tool, you are not only giving yourself a more expert appearance, but also providing people will free, useful information! People like free stuff, and even when it’s just information, it’s going to help you promote your business.
Like most international business, the language industry operates very quickly. Your clients expect you to respond to emails immediately, regardless of their nature. If you can’t keep up, you may find yourself behind. Oftentimes you will find a client asking for revisions and expecting them to be completed immediately. Deadlines are the norm, and the market is competitive. If you take your time getting back to a client, or miss a deadline, you will undoubtedly end up with an unhappy client. In order to be successful in the language industry, you have to be able to keep the pace with your competition. Punctuality a highly regarded, and important value factor in a language business. Keep this in mind when dealing with international clients who are on the other side of the world. They may be contacting you and expecting immediate responses when you are sleeping.
In the marketing world, leverage means using things like speaking engagements and using them as an opportunity to market. Take advantage of something you are already planning on doing, and make it a secondary goal to turn that something into a marketing event. Get a list of people who attend your presentation. Invite them into your business by sharing articles or other interesting information with them. Use your articles to create conversations with people so that you can, in turn, create clients. The goal of leverage is to make every marketing opportunity the most that you can get. A presentation never ends with a “goodbye”, and a blog post or article certainly does not end with a final sentence. These, along with other marketing strategies, will give you a chance to use leverage to get even more promotion. You’re already doing the first part of the marketing, so why not take it a step further and get more out of it?
Your translation business is a business. Unfortunately, while your primary objective is translation, you should also be spending a good chunk of your time on the business end of things. Your sales plan should allocate a good amount of time to sales situations—phone calls, in-person meetings, and even video conferences—where you can communicate with clients and prospects and figure out what they need from you. If you are always talking to people, you’re always increasing your chances of getting the sale and growing your business. Not to mention, the more time you spend selling, the more practice you will get, and the more honed you sales skills will become. In the language industry, it’s all about the clients. When you show them that you care about them by talking to them and figuring out their needs, they’re sure to be impressed and will be much more likely to choose your language business for their translation needs.
Listen, listen, listen. You can be immensely more helpful to potential clients if you pay close attention to them. Look at them when they are talking, and don’t engage in side tasks. Besides the fact that you will be able to read much more of what they are saying through their body language, you will also be showing them that you care. An indifferent sales associate usually leaves us feeling ignored and frustrated, even if they are able to help us just as much as the attentive employee. Not to mention, we tend to like the people who listen to us, and thus are more willing to listen to what they have to say. So pay close attention to your clients, and you will find them happier and more willing to listen to you in return.
Making a firm decision is much easier when you only have two or three options to choose from. Add more choices, and you may become overwhelmed and start shy away from making a decision. With fewer options, you feel more satisfied that you made the right decision. However, with a larger selection, there is a larger probability that you will feel that perhaps the choice you made isn’t the perfect one. Apply this to your translation services, and give your clients more than one, but no more than three options to choose from. That way, they still feel like they have more control over the process than if there were only one course of action, but are not overwhelmed by too many options. Nevertheless, if there is a necessity for more choices, putting them in categories, and even sub-categories, will help lessen the feeling of “too many choices”.
Have you ever walked into a store looking to find something not in stock, only to be pointed by an employee to a competitor? Remember how that felt for you. When sales representatives are helpful in that kind of way, it makes them seem more like friendly humans, rather than a part of their company’s army of sales robots. And despite the fact that you didn’t make a purchase from that store, it’s probably true that you held that company and its practices in higher regard. Now, you don’t actually have to make drastic financial sacrifices to make yourself look helpful, caring, and friendly. All you need to show your clients is that you are empathetic. Don’t be a robot trying to snag your clients’ money. Show that you are human by being compassionate with whatever problems your client may have.
You will hear that one of the best ways to get people to listen and agree with you is to show interest in them. “Be animated!” experts will tell you, and “ Always use their name when addressing them.” While it is important to make your clients feel cared about, you must also be sure your efforts appear genuine. As soon as someone gets the feeling that you might be “faking it”, you will lose credibility and become annoying. If your cheeks start to hurt from forcing your smile, you probably need to tone down your enthusiasm.
In honor of all those language professionals around the world who help bridge the gap of language and culture, we created this video just for you. We hope you enjoy the video and let the world know how important you are to bring cultures together!
Happy International Translation Day!
Do you have the stamina for speaking up in regard to what’s on your mind? Or do you prefer to keep quiet and make the best of all situations? A well-seasoned business professional suggested that when you continue to bite …
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February 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM (EST)
Are you one of those translators that says “yes” to anything that falls on your plate? Are you desperate to get any projects, even if it’s a subject on which you don’t have much knowledge or experience? Are you constantly being asked to reduce rates?
Your goal should be to be an expert, a leader, and a solution-provider in your market. People don’t just want someone who can get the job done. They want persons who know what they are doing and can prove they are worth investing in. There is a lot that you have to consider in developing your brand statement and identity, but being an expert will ensure that people see you as a force worth having on their side when they need translation and language services. Anyone can sell a service, but it’s up to you to become a master in your profession.
Join this webcast on Wednesday, February 26 at 11:00 AM (EST) to learn 10 tips that can help you choose your translation area of expertise so you build a thriving translation business.
Speaker: Ray Reyes, CEO, Latitudes Training Coaching and Consulting
February 18, 2014 at 11:00 AM (EST)
Now that 2014 is underway, many companies have set their sales goals for the year. But too often their efforts either fade away and fizzle out or they come up way short and find themselves asking the all-too-familiar question: “Why did we miss our sales goals?” In this webcast, we will discuss an effective way to manage your sales and increase your odds of success so that never again will you ask the question: “Why did we miss our sales goals?”
Join us for this exciting webcast Tuesday, February 18 at 11:00 AM (EST).