The Art of Sales in the Localization Industry

Connection. Authenticity. Trust. With over 10 years of experience in numerous aspects of sales, I have discovered that these are the crucial ingredients for sales broadly and in the localization industry specifically.

Having recently been invited to present a webinar on the art of sales in the localization industry, hosted by the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), I was both a little nervous and excited to share my thoughts and experience with an amazing audience.

Below, I share my thoughts with you. Let’s get started!

Sales Philosophy

Sales is a profession that I am proud to be in. And it has changed dramatically over the years. No longer the domain of “sleazy vacuum cleaner salesmen”, sales is an art, a science, and a craft that requires careful thought and a powerful strategy to yield successful results. But what are the foundational principles for successful sales? I have narrowed them down to the following:

  • Connection: connection goes beyond merely reaching out to decision-makers. It’s about a sustained approach founded on building rapport with them so that you become top of mind when they are looking for a new service provider. Patience is key here and it means nurturing the relationship.
  • Trust: Building trust is a widely spoken-about topic. Yet, to me, it is a crucial ingredient of successful sales. Some of the principles that guide building trust include being transparent and willing to answer any questions or concerns your prospective clients may have as well as having a strong moral sense, which quickly shines through and determines whether you are looking at the client as a mere “piggy bank” or a valued partner. Trust defines the quality of our relationships and sales is no different. Be empathetic to clients and determine how you can address their pain points, needs, and concerns.
  • Communication: choosing the right channels of communication, being available when a client has a question or a concern, and addressing these honestly and transparently means that small issues that could have grown bigger will not hinder the professional relationship.
  • Authenticity: being authentic means truly believing in the product/service you’re selling and liking the company you work for. This often comes through to the prospective client. Doing things differently and being authentic to stand out from the crowd is not about sending an email with a funny meme. It’s about a genuine interest in the client, a passion for your product, and being positive about the relationship. Anything short of that and the client will immediately get the sense that you are not a reliable service provider.
You may also like:  Top 5 tips for Fintech Translations for Asian countries

Selling translation services 101

Selling translation services is very far removed from a purchasing decision to choose one chocolate bar over the next. It’s a big decision that clients make that holds a high amount of risk for them. That’s why each project needs to be given the right level of respect and attention. Here’s how I would outline my approach to the sales process we’ve built at 1-Stop Asia:

  • Stay focused on the big picture: selling translation services is a long-term game. You need to think of the bigger picture in the long run and not focus on short-term gains. Sometimes, smaller compromises now can lead to big returns in the future and it’s better to focus on those than a short-term gain that may lose you the client in a short space of time. Always try to think a few steps ahead and remember the importance of every reaction. No matter how small, it can be either positive or negative for you.
  • Position yourself in the number one spot: it’s rare for sales efforts to be successful from the very first attempt. That’s why positioning yourself in the number one spot on the client’s list of vendors is essential. Some tips for doing so include:
    • Making a good first impression using the sales philosophy outlined above
    • Sending regular follow-up emails within a reasonable time frame
    • Congratulating the client on any notable achievements
    • Wishing people happy birthdays (but keep the value in your gesture and don’t try to sell to them)
    • Sharing your own news of achievements or product developments

The ultimate purpose is to keep your company fresh in the client’s mind so that they have a positive feeling when they think of you.

The lifespan of a sale

As a sales professional, you will be in contact with many different companies, each at various stages of the negotiation and you cannot afford to miss anything. That’s why being organized and focusing on time management are so essential. For this purpose, there are two steps that I encourage during this phase:

  1. Step one: find the exact person you need to be approaching
  2. Step two: research the company beforehand to see if there are any opportunities you can use during your initial approach.
You may also like:  The Difference Between Translation and Transcreation, and what Transcreation is

Ultimately, the method of approach boils down to email, calls, and LinkedIn. However, in my experience, email is the best choice. With cold calls, it’s become even harder to reach out to decision-makers who may be working remotely. As for LinkedIn, although it’s popular, it should be used for research or approaching specific people about a specific thing and not just general sales.

If you choose to use email, always have an ultimate goal in mind. In my case, the goal is always to schedule a meeting. Now, let’s explore the anatomy of the email and its constant aspects that lead to a higher success rate. It should contain a simple and professional subject, a polite greeting, an introduction of yourself, the magic paragraph, and a call to action.

What do I mean by the magic paragraph? This is where you showcase your research skills while tailoring the email for the person and company you are contacting. This is where being authentic really matters. Examples of some aspects you could cover include:
sales conference

  • Pain points vs solutions
  • Standout facts about your company
  • Empathizing with the company’s position
  • What do you like about your own company (as a part of authenticity), and
  • Keeping it simple and professional.

Closing the deal

Once you’ve reached out to a prospect through any of the channels mentioned above, it’s time for the real magic to take place. My goal of scheduling a meeting is now met and it’s time to put my skills into practice.

The real secret, from my experience, is to simply have a casual conversation that shows an interest in the person you are talking to while trying to find common interests to establish a connection. For me, a perfect meeting will be 60% talking about non-work-related topics and 40% talking about work. The best in the industry typically have a 70/30 breakdown.

You may also like:  Language Services Need to Level Up

For a successful call, we now need to go back to the sales philosophy mentioned earlier. It’s all about investing time and building trust with the client, establishing a connection, and demonstrating your passion. The chances are that they will have a positive reaction to you. Make sure you are not fake interested in them as this will immediately show.

As for the technical aspects, be sure that you outline the next step after the meeting. It’s essential to remember that getting a client to send you work after the first meeting is rare. You need to nurture the relationship like you would an orange tree that is grown from seed. And finally, like the great Michael Scott’s A-B-C, you should Always Be Closing.

Follow-ups

Follow-ups are crucial for every salesperson. You need to do follow-ups within a reasonable time frame. In reality, the first follow-up should be done after around two weeks. The second one should be after a month. The third should be after three months. After this, it’s best to leave it for at least four to six months, depending on the situation.

Of course, follow-ups could be done via different methods and platforms. However, during this time, you should still send non-sales-related emails whenever the opportunity arises. The ultimate goal is for the client to have a positive feeling when they think of you.

Post-deal work

Post-deal work is possibly even more important than the initial sales work. That’s because experience shows that partnership development is what really increases your value. Partnership development done properly will ensure repeat sales, which is always our long-term aim.

In conclusion

Wrapping up, passion, and authenticity are a necessity no matter what you are selling. It’s essential to focus on building relationships with clients for long-term success. For this purpose, effective communication is crucial, and creating channels for open and honest feedback is essential to building a successful partnership.

Finally, companies with sales teams should trust them and encourage their individuality, which will shine through during the relationship-building phase. This is essential for achieving the organization’s long-term sales goals.