Like most translators I know, (especially those who have either started out recently or gone full time in the last few years) the drive to gain new clients, market services, be proactive and active on social media can be pretty intense. It’s all about finding the balance between being visible enough that your profile is raised, but not too visible that people start to throw the Twitter equivalent of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak over you (that’s unfollowing you, in case you’re not a Twitter/HP fan).
Equally, when contacting prospects, what’s acceptable in terms of response time? If you’re as impatient as me, the minute you press send on your carefully crafted email pitch (which is often the product of days of research and thought) you start the stopwatch in your mind. If they haven’t responded within a few hours you try to shrug it off, “People are busy” you tell yourself, “They have meetings”. Once it passes the end of the working day, the more optimistic of us decide that they’re probably just discussing your pitch with their boss before they contract you for two million euros’ worth of work. Those of us who are more “glass half empty” might resort to slightly cruder forms of expression and top up that half-empty glass to the brim with our sorrow-drowning beverage of choice.
They’re Just Not That Into You…
So what is it that makes a prospect reply to our pitch? Is it chance? Fate? The content of our email? Venus being in line with Jupiter? It might be all of those things. Or none. It might be down to the fact that, when we’re writing to potential new clients, we forget that it isn’t about us. Marie Brotnov wrote a brilliant post last month on how we need to put the prospect first when we approach them, pulling on information from the freelancer Brennan Dunn‘s effective approach to getting clients. Marie’s post outlined three main boxes that your pitch should tick:
1. It does not focus on you but on the client’s need.
2. It does not sell a product but a solution.
3. It does not present you as a vendor but a partner.
These points makes a lot of sense. Position yourself as a problem solver; someone who can be relied upon to help them with whatever challenges they or their business might be facing. Your pitch shouldn’t say, “I can translate your website because I have the relevant qualifications and I have 15 years’ experience in the industry.” While that’s marvellous, (and probably true) it doesn’t really tell the client anything about how translating their website can help them. It just tells them about you. And, as hard as it is it might be to come to terms with – they’re not interested in you. They’re not interested in me either. They’re interested in their problems being solved. And that’s where your pitch comes in.
99 Problems…which you can help them solve
Why not frame your pitch around potential problems they might be having – companies aren’t likely to actually advertise the problems they’re experiencing, but a bit of digging and logical thinking will get you pretty far. Continuing on with the website theme, let’s take one example – companies with an e-commerce or transactional element to their site face a constant battle with potential customers abandoning their carts before purchase. This can be for a number of reasons and the main one translators will focus their pitch on is: if the customer doesn’t understand the payment process because it’s not in their native language, then they won’t complete the purchase. This is a very valid point and it’s backed up by recent research from the Common Sense Advisory which says that “85 percent of Internet users do not make important purchasing decisions unless product descriptions are in the language they speak”. But there are other points to focus on in your pitch – points which demonstrate that you understand their industry and its inherent challenges. Does the payment section make it easy for customers to pay if they reside outside of the country where the business is based? Is there an option to pay (or at least view) the item’s price in different currencies? And let’s not get ahead of ourselves and presume that a customer is going to get as far as buying something…what about getting to your client’s website in the first place? What’s the percentage of traffic coming to the site from “foreign” sources? If it’s a low percentage, how about optimising SEO terms in other languages? And if a decent percentage do land on the website, is the content available in their language…and this obviously brings you neatly back to translation. By having these sorts of conversations with your potential clients, you’re demonstrating that you’re on their side, you’re their partner and you’re here to solve their problems.
How do you pitch to clients? Do you have individual pitches for every new prospect, or do you use a template? I’d love to hear about your experiences.