The Linguist

The Linguist 52,2

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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FEATURES Making sales Luke Spear shares his strategies for securing the best clients and establishing a successful translation business If the lifeblood of a translation business, or any business for that matter, is in making sales to new and existing customers, it is only right to spend time developing a structured sales and marketing process. This can initiate a steady stream of new clients, each leading to better pay and conditions as we renegotiate terms with every addition. The process doesn't have to cost a lot. Spending on marketing can be a very cost-effective and high-return investment. I have tested sales strategies used by successful startup companies and freelancers in a variety of fields, and found one rather obvious pattern: persistence is the most profitable quality of a marketing campaign. However, persistence is nothing without a range of strategies to find and work with the best clients – the ones who are pleasant to work with, happy to provide all the information you need, generous with timescales and wary of quality issues. Not to mention, happy to pay a fair fee. How the successful businesses I have studied present themselves to potential clients is telling. For example, no experienced copywriter uses academic qualifications as their main selling point; they communicate that they solve specific problems for businesses. Some go further, claiming to be a sound investment whose work will result in higher revenues for the client. They assure buyers that their decision will not be a mistake and imply a 'win-win' proposition. It seems to hold true, across the professions, that working with clients in a more consultant-like manner results in more profitable projects with the best clients. This may be because many companies don't consider freelancers to be as invested in 22 The Linguist APRIL/MAY or high growth and profitability are likely to offer quicker decision-making and shorter payment cycles. Pricing yourself into the market PHOTOS: © ISTOCKPHOTO An email to a popular news site's editor can see you published within days, if your story is of interest projects as their own in-house staff. They see them as short-term fillers who will want to move on to the next project as quickly as they can. Consultants, on the other hand, tend to work more closely with clients and this justifies their higher fees. The understanding is that the work will be more in line with the client's business objectives. A consulting translator, for example, might incorporate SEO (search engine optimisation) keywords, aspects of localisation, text string length and external proofreading. The best client need not be the biggest client. Smaller companies with recent funding Our continued insistence on educating clients about per-word pricing can be counterproductive. Although it is undeniably accurate, it ignores a few real-world factors. People in business generally have little idea of how many words are in their project, or how many words can be translated in a day, for that matter. An alternative is to use a perword rate in our own calculations and to give clients a familiar pricing arrangement based on that – one they can easily compare to those of the other professions they work with. Most clients are used to paying day rates and tend to make decisions based primarily on value, rather than budget. I've worked with companies that will pay thousands of pounds per day for a photoshoot model because they believe that she adds value by ensuring that the product looks polished and, ultimately, that the client looks good. They will not be shocked by our relatively modest fees. It is important to offer a pricing structure that reflects client expectations, and preparing rates for hourly, daily or even weekly line-items should be a first step in this direction. Per project pricing is another valid option. Such a pricing structure can be applied to some agencies (usually smaller ones), although it is more likely to be expected by direct clients. A time- or project-based method enables you to negotiate on cost rather than price. By removing a service – such as an external proofread or glossary building stage – you can reduce both the cost and the time you

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