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.
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!
This is an interesting trick, and seemingly contradictory to common sense. If you ask someone to do something for you, they are more likely to think a bit more highly of you. So if you find yourself with a client who is a bit hesitant to seal the deal or someone in the industry who you just can’t seem to get to like you, try asking them for a little favor. In order to carry out your request, they have to, somewhere in their mind, think that you deserve it. And once they acknowledge that you deserve their time, they will tend to like you just a little bit more.
More often than not, your “great sales pitch” is only going to leave your listeners bored and uninterested. While it may be helpful to them to know what you and your business do, listening to your pitch will probably make them feel like they are being advertised to. So, without a pitch, what do you do now? The answer is become a problem-solver. Your client has a buying problem, and you need to be the answer. The secret to finding a solution to a client’s difficult situation is to first let them tell you about it. This can be tricky, because many times the client won’t seem to have any issues at hand. Therefore, you need to help your client envision a better future for his or her business. Typically, this will uncover some roadblocks preventing the transition from how things are to how your client would like them to be. To be an effective problem-solver, your job is to communicate ways to remove these roadblocks and then explain how your services could assist with that. That way you are no longer the annoying salesman but the easy solution to your clients’ problems.
Always keep in mind that everything you do is for people. Humans sometimes can’t help themselves when it comes to the emotions and decision-making of the subconscious mind. Become aware of the different things you can do to influence this side of people. Anything you do—including the tone of your voice, your body language, the look in your eyes, or the way you phrase things—can have a profound influence on what someone thinks about you and your business. Learn to take control of these things so that you can become more agreeable and persuasive to prospective clients. In marketing, logic often loses to human emotion. So, if you can learn to carry yourself in a way that gives people a certain “gut feeling” that they like you, you will find yourself with more clients.
“Hi, my name is so and so and I am a translator in these languages. I work with this type of company to accomplish these tasks. What separates me from other translators is this.” After quickly telling others your job title, explain how you are different from other language service providers. The key is to grab your listeners’ attention and interest. There is a good chance that those that hear your pitch have heard many—and from other people in your industry, as well. Separate yourself from the crowd and draw attention to your uniqueness. Also, say it with confidence, and mention how your work gets results. Many times this little blurb will be your only chance to speak to a potential client. You want your pitch to make your listeners want to work with you. And even if they don’t need your services, your pitch still counts if they are interested enough to refer someone to you. Most of the time this sales pitch won’t be necessary, but when it is, say it well.
Have you tried search engine optimization, or SEO, yet? This clever “trick” gives you more visibility by moving you to the top of search engine results. However, it takes a bit of work—and if you are an international business reaching out to a global market, it can be even harder. Although the process can be intricate and complicated, the key to SEO lies in using the right keywords. And when you market to more than one culture, this can get tricky.
“Napkin” or “serviette”? “Sneakers” or “trainers”? “Sandwich press” or “toastie maker”? Your word preference depends on your cultural background. These questions represent only a small number of the differences in identifiers that you will find in the English language for things that are the same. How many times have you listened to someone speak the same language as you, only to find yourself lost and confused because you could not understand his or her dialect? Remember that individual words are central to SEO. So, when using it to increase your visibility internationally, be careful to pay attention to and account for any differences in word preference that exist between cultures.
Cultural values and the search engine. A less obvious problem arises when using SEO to market your brand internationally. You probably already know that different cultures place value on different things in the professional world. For example, in the U.S., boasting about our abilities is an accepted form of advertising; however, this practice is frowned upon in many cultures. So, to make yourself look good using SEO in the global marketplace, you have to focus on other features in order to appeal to international clientele. Depending on their cultural background, prospective clients will oftentimes conduct a search for a product or service using keywords that highlight unique characteristics they value. Again, be careful to keep this in mind. Without special attention being paid to the subtle cultural differences in your international market, even the best attempts at SEO will only work to promote your business in your home country.
You may or may not be someone whom others find they easily like, trust, and get along with. Regardless, every business should have a strategy for building strong professional relationships. An incredible amount of value is created in the minds of your clients when a successful business relationship is established. Behind every business is a human. We are emotional creatures, and it is because of this that relationships are so effective in professional environments. Once you establish a personal connection with your clients, not only will your services appear superior, but you will also be showing that you care. For this reason, devising a plan for creating, building, and maintaining lasting relationships is crucial to sales.
Whether you are a freelancer or a business owner with distinct departments, you will typically find that there is little agreement between individual sales and marketing goals. The marketing model to success focuses on advertising spending and growing a business’s name. Conversely, folks in sales usually think this money would be better spent on sales representatives. Choosing where to spend your money can be tough, and settling discrepancies between the budgeting and business goals of the two departments can be time-consuming and exhaustive of your resources. Acknowledge that your sales and marketing goals will typically not want to align. You can overcome this roadblock by promoting collaboration between your sales and marketing departments to ensure that the two share common ground in terms of ideas and planning.
If you think networking means walking around a room, meeting people, and exchanging business cards—and maybe even making arrangements so that you can talk business—you’re mostly wrong. While this method works for some people, chances are that it hasn’t scored you many clients. Erase this definition of networking from your mind, and think of it more as building relationships. When a relationship is established and maintained, you gain a significant amount of trust and credibility in the mind of the other person. Why? Simply because they know you. And when somebody knows (and likes) you, they tend to trust and support you. Your prospective clients will be much less hesitant to do business with you because of this. Not to mention, when the goal of your networking becomes forming relationships with those in and out of your industry, you build an army of friends who will vouch for your services. And why does this work? Because people tend to choose their friends’ recommendations over their own random findings.
Don’t be someone who is all “talk”. Do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it. The first time you don’t follow through with even a small verbal agreement with a client, you lose a significant amount of trust and credibility. Similarly, you may jeopardize a relationship and risk losing a client if your business prides itself on its excellent customer relations, yet the quality of your work does not meet expectations.. The word of even one bad experience can travel to unlikely places. Stay consistent, and make sure you can keep your promises.
It’s not bragging if you can back it up. ~ Muhammad Ali
Whether you like it or not, the majority of the potential clients you reach out to will turn you down. All of this rejection can place a major damper on your spirits. And if you try to sell your services to people while in this state of defeat, people will see your misery and reject you even further. Accept the fact that you will be turned down very often and stay optimistic. Now, this optimism should be maintained, not only for new potential clients, but also for the ones that have turned you down. Just because someone tells you “no” once does not mean that this will be the case the next time you ask him or her. Sometimes it may take four or five refusals before someone finally agrees to become your client. So keep your chin up and embrace rejection as part of the normal process of sales and marketing.
I think that you have to believe in your destiny; that you will succeed, you will meet a lot of rejection and it is not always a straight path, there will be detours – so enjoy the view. - Michael York
In today’s world we constantly hear “I hate my boss” stories, which typically involve a critical authoritarian manager or supervisor. If you are in a management position, you should be a leader to those under you, not a prison officer. Your job as a leader is to help your employees grow. Become their coach by teaching them new skills, introducing them to valuable connections, and providing them opportunities to gain experience. Sit down with them every so often and discuss their long-term career goals, and find out if they are taking the right measures to get there.
The more you help your employees grow professionally, the more motivated they will become to take on new challenges. Not to mention, the level of their respect for you can only increase if they regard you as their mentor. Even if your employees do not see themselves working for your language business much longer, you should still treat them as if they were long-term. Then, if and when these employees ever do decide to move on to other job opportunities, they will remember you for providing them with the skills they have. Your business will grow as a whole when you help your employees grow.
It’s better to grow your employees, steer them into a place that they can learn and succeed, and want to work hard and be loyal, than to have a revolving door of employees. That’s demoralizing. -Glen Mazzara
Waiting for your clients to make a move can be tiresome. It can also slow down your business growth significantly. It’s like building a store and expecting people to just find it. It’s not that easy, and in the world of the Internet it becomes even harder. When it comes to your clients, you have to decide whether you’re okay with just throwing out a line and waiting for a bite or if you want to take action and be more assertive.
Assertive is a tricky word. After all, no one likes a pushy salesperson. But there are things that you can do, such as recommending a course of action in a positive way, to make your clients feel like you’re being attentive without being overbearing. You have to avoid manipulating them and pressuring them into something, as that will keep them from coming back in the future. Here are some ways to sell your language business on your own terms without being that sales guy everyone hates:
- When someone inquires about your translation services, use action words to show them what you will do, not what you can do. Explain to them the benefits of your services and give them a reason to move forward immediately.
- Outline the advantages of acting on the project now rather than waiting. Some people like to look around, or they might not seem like they’re in a hurry to get a translation project done. If you show them it’s better to do it now, they might be more likely to follow through.
- Offer specials or incentives to people who follow through with a requested quote. Not only is this good marketing, but it will motivate people to act on their needs sooner than if there were no perks in place.
It takes a while to become comfortable with recommending and being more persuasive, but it’s the best way to grow your business and keep things moving at your speed.
We typically find that those to whom selling comes naturally are the people who are confident, energetic, empathetic, and friendly. Why? Because these people are likeable and easy to build relationships with. Your relationship strategy should start by asking yourself this question: “How can I become more like the ideal successful salesperson?” In the professional world, there are three clearly defined categories under which a business relationship can fall: personal, professional, and established. On the personal level, your goal should be to create a quick bond by coming across as interesting, trustworthy, and understanding. Once a personal bond is created, moving to the professional level is a bit easier, and involves introducing your business interests. To develop established relationships, the key is to actively manage and maintain them. Your relationship strategy must include a plan at each of these levels.
When we are awake and alert, we have the mental energy to weigh the costs and effort required of a job or a favor. However, when we are physically tired, we are also mentally drained. Our fatigued minds typically don’t want to think about or deal with anything. So what happens when someone asks for something when we are tired? We tend to accept requests without weighing the costs, and then shelving the request for later when our minds are back to their normal energy levels. This can be dangerous when we make promises that turn out to be time and labor intensive. So recognize when your brain isn’t working at full speed, so that you don’t make any promises you normally would not make.
“Hi, my name is so and so and I am a translator in these languages. I work with this type of subjects to accomplish these tasks. What separates me from other translators is this.” After quickly telling others your job title, explain how you are different from other language service providers. The key is to grab your listeners’ attention and interest. There is a good chance that those that hear your pitch have heard many—and from other people in your industry, as well. Separate yourself from the crowd and draw attention to your uniqueness. Also, say it with confidence, and mention how your work gets results. Many times this little blurb will be your only chance to speak to a potential client. You want your pitch to make your listeners want to work with you. And even if they don’t need your services, your pitch still counts if they are interested enough to refer someone to you. Most of the time this sales pitch won’t be necessary, but when it is, say it well.
There is no doubt about it: We love to laugh. We love telling jokes, watching silly movies, and being sarcastic. We view a sense of humor as a positive personality trait. In uncomfortable situations, we often look to lighten the mood with something funny. It is easily argued that most people around the world agree that humor is usually a good thing. However, what exactly people find funny can vary significantly across cultures. This is very important to keep in mind when doing business internationally.
Our varying sense of humor. How many times have you sat down to watch a comedy only to walk away feeling either offended, confused, or disgusted? Even within our own culture there is a wide array of comical approaches. Words like crude, dry, witty, sarcastic, and dark all describe some of the many different types of humor within our society. Outside of our culture, you will find even more. We have all told a joke that didn’t exactly resonate within someone, leaving both parties feeling awkward and embarrassed. The likelihood of this happening is high when conversing with someone who is of a different cultural background than you. Even if your delivery is stellar, and you are clear to enunciate every word of your funny story, your listener might not find it amusing simply because of his or her cultural background.
Humor in the workplace. Is it appropriate? You are meeting with a client, and things seem to be going great. To make things flow even more smoothly, you decide to tell a joke. However, instead of laughing and smiling, you find your client glancing back at you disapprovingly. What went wrong? Even though you may have told a joke that could be seen as universally funny, some cultures frown upon the informality created by humor. To be respectful of a culture’s business practices, you need to be aware of whether or not they view the inclusion of humor as appropriate during professional transactions.
It’s hard to be funny. Oftentimes, your jokes simply won’t translate because they include a pun or an idiom unique to your country. Being culturally sensitive includes taking care to monitor your humor, and in more than just one way. Nevertheless, if your jest does end up being misunderstood, be open about your mistake and try to laugh it off. Sometimes your embarrassment, rather than your joke, can help to ease some tension between you and your international client. We are humans, after all.
In today’s world, we are constantly bombarded with lies, tricks, and scams (think: e-mail junk folder). As consumers, we have to be careful to buy from credible sources, or risk getting taken advantage of. Now, this makes it harder for those on the supply side to be successful. So, as a translator, how can you make your language business more credible?
Be consistent. Consistency is one of the keys to building a reputation of credibility. Practice emotional stability and always treat your clients with respect. Tackle comparable projects similarly. Be fair, and make sure you always deliver a quality product to all of your clients. In addition, make sure you keep your word. If you promise a deadline, make sure the project is on time. Be careful about your commitments—whether they are verbal or written—and make sure you follow through with them. Give your clients a reason to really trust you.
Be professional. Give people a reason to believe in your abilities by being knowledgeable. Experts are easily trusted, so spend time learning all there is to know about the language industry. Keep yourself informed of the latest happenings and new technologies. Most importantly, always strive for improvement. Also, make sure your attitude is always professional. Show that you work well with others, and be polite to everyone. Fights, harsh comments, and rudeness are never seen as professional conduct.
Have excellent customer service. We always hear the phrase, “Go the extra mile” to depict great customer service. While you don’t necessarily have to go as far as say, babysitting your clients’ children, be sure to always treat them with the highest level of respect and politeness possible. Show your clients that you are passionate about helping them, and be sure to communicate this clearly. Let your clients know what to expect from you—and then exceed their expectations. Always remember that you are doing business with human beings, so treat them so. Everybody has specific needs and ways of doing things, so be sensitive to differences among your clients.
Be humble. Nobody likes a show-off. Why do you think people always root for the underdog? While you should definitely have faith in your abilities, always make sure you apologize for any mistakes. Ignoring them and pretending to be infallible will not help you. People will be both surprised and impressed when you honestly point out what you did wrong.
Building credibility is tricky because it is an aspect of your reputation. It’s not easy to take control over how people perceive you, so creating a credible language business can be tough. An important thing to always remember is that credibility is easier to maintain than to recover. So even though it may require a lot of effort, be careful to always and consistently give people a reason to trust you.
Sure, the more people in your network, the better. However, the likelihood that your networking efforts will lead to more referrals and new clients is significantly greater when you are connecting with the right people. Try to focus on those who carry some or all of the attributes of your ideal client—the people with whom you most enjoy working. Start by thinking about past and present clients. Make a list of traits that your favorite clients had that made them distinctive. Then, when networking, try going after those who display those same qualities. Now, this doesn’t mean ignore everyone else who doesn’t happen to meet your standards. Just be economic with your networking energies and spend more effort creating quality relationships with those who are most like your ideal client.
The art of networking lies in the principles of giving and taking. The professional contacts you make are there to help you, and, quite likely, they could also use your help. Think of your network as a resource. The more people of high quality that you are connected with, the more valuable this social resource is. However, in order to tap into this gold mine, you need to earn it. That’s where your generosity comes in. So, stop thinking of networking as a game of giving and taking. Just give. Do favors for others with humility, and don’t ask for anything in return. Before long, you will find that people will unexpectedly return the favor. Not to mention, your network will likely be there to help you out should you find yourself in some sort of business calamity. Good things come to those who deserve it, so forget about taking and be a giver!
While the first step in gaining clients may be to simply communicate that your language business is one of superior value, you must be able to deliver a quality job as well. Within the sales process, there are many steps, each one of which you should take care to make organized, pleasant, and uncomplicated for your client. However, what ultimately will add the most value to your language business is beyond the simple mechanics of a project or the quality of your translation. Devise a way to incorporate special “touches” to the normal process of project completion that work to build a relationship with a client. Think of the important factors that go into personal relationships and incorporate that into your professional practices. Offer good advice, provide solutions to problems, don’t just sell features or services. Remember that relationships do not end after a sale is finished! Maintain the connection by continuing to offer excellent customer service even after a project’s completion.
You most likely have a clearly defined “target audience” in mind. If asked, you could list characteristics about them, such as their industry, income level, location, etc. You also probably know why your previous clients purchased from you and how they found you. However, equally important—and something that you may not know—are the intangible, more abstract facets of your audience. In what way do your clients want to grow? What do they find important? If asked, could you accurately state their professional and/or personal goals? What is their method of tackling challenges? What are their online habits? For example, do they actively participate in social media? Being able to answer these questions about your clients will enable you to speak to them in such a way that they will want to listen. Also, because the members of your target audience will most likely share many attributes, you can reach out to them on a whole new level. The more you know about your market, the more effective you will be at grabbing them and pinpointing their interests. Regardless of who they are, your clients like to be treated as people. So get to know them!
It is so much easier to get your existing clients to come back for more work than it is to score new clients. While your efforts to market to new clients is still necessary, having a sustainable set of regular clients will really help your language business grow. When work comes to you, instead of your having to go out and seek it, you are able to spend much more time actually focusing on translations (which translates to more income). So, make sure you are focusing on making everyone you do business with happy with you and your work.
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