Localization sales process

I recently read an excellent blog about the difference between winning and losing a sale in our industry.  Jessica Rathke, principal of L10n Sales & Marketing Ltd, was giving her views in an interview style blog and it was particularly interesting to read how she came to be in a sales role in our industry.  Interesting because she “fell into the industry” and this resonated with me as that is exactly how I arrived here.

We both have similar backgrounds in our personal language skills (German) and we have both lived in foreign countries.  Our opinions are also in alignment, in so far that we believe to truly understand why the process of Localization is so important, you have to first experience it yourself, which in turn gives you the credibility needed to impart this knowledge upon others.

This in itself however is not the only thing you need.  If like me you’re a bit of a scatter brain (entrepreneurial is how I like to call it)  and your thoughts fly all over the place, you also need a solid sales structure to work with.  Over the years I have tuned my own sales methodology, I actually take a similar approach to the legal industry, in so far as “if you haven’t documented it, it hasn’t happened”.  I am meticulous about documenting things, filing things and I can rarely remember to call somebody on time unless I have it written in my diary, or  our CRM, to do so.  This does mean that I tend to do a lot more admin work than some of my peers but it does pay off in the end I can assure you.  What it has also lead to is being in a position to help write, guide and assist in a number of Sales ISO policies throughout my career. I believe that having a framework, where within both structure and freedom is encompassed, plays a vital role in winning, and more importantly, retaining new customers.

Freedom: This is for each individual you have on your sales team, without it you can’t have the differentiators needed to “Sell” your proposition.  People buy from people and those talented individuals, which are the face of your company, need to be able to adapt to the customers needs quickly.

Structure: Keeping your value proposition in check is what this is all about.  Making sure your team can deliver what you promise and making sure you don’t forget some of the vital pieces of the jigsaw when it comes to writing that proposal.  Yes it is good to have something to go back to your prospect with, a question here, an answer there, but if you’re calling them every 5 minutes and asking a boat load of questions, which should have been answered in the face to face meeting, or worse still they were and you didn’t write them down, then you’re more likely to be on the “also rans” rather than the winner.

So what is the localization sales process? where does it start? and how do you win?

Well how to win is very eloquently described by Jessica, you need to understand your client’s needs before you can do anything.

Where does it start? It starts from the first point of contact, most people make a negative buying decision within the first 30 seconds, if you haven’t made a good impression by then you’re fighting an up hill battle.  This does not mean you have lost, it just means your job has got a whole heap more difficult.

The Localization sales process is a consultative one.  Most educated buyers of our services will have a good understanding of what a TMS is, what TMs are and how a their own CMS functions, but they probably won’t know how our industry works.  Just because they have been having their content localized into multiple languages over a number of years, does not mean they know how our industry works and moreover how to get the best value from their LSP.  So the answer to the question, “what is the Localization sales process?” it is the most important part of any LSP because without one, you’re just another sales person punting for a few words to translate from a back bedroom somewhere.

Localization World June 2013 London

So the Language Olympics have come to a close and it is now time to reflect upon, and then put into practise, some of the things we have learned about over the last few days.  No matter where you come from it was hard not to hear the boisterous buzz in the Novotel London West between the 10th and 14th June and a number of exciting topics were discussed both in and out of the conference rooms and halls.

I personally joined the event on the 12th for a pre-conference workshop covering the topic of “Localization for Start-ups”.  Hosted by Daniel Goldschmidt (Microsoft), Oleksandr Pysaryuk (Achievers Corp.) this workshop covered the need to understand at what point Globalization (G11n), Internationalization (I18n) and Localization (L10n) would need to be engaged in a Start-up company.  To do this the definitions of a Start-up , G11n, I18n and L10n were delivered along with a number of standard business terms used in the Start-up community.  After a good 2 hours the foundations were laid for the second half of the workshop which found us split into 3 groups thinking about a start-up of our own and where G11n, I18n and L10n would have to be part of the growth plan. Then came “The Pitch” to investors.  Luckily for us, we had the World bank in our team and we’d managed to secure the funding before even having to deliver the pitch. We heard three great new start-up ideas and all of teams understood how crucial our industry has become to an ever increasing global audience.

Day 2 was the first day of the 2 day main conference and we were like kids in a sweet shop, quite literally as we,  Capita , opened the “The World’s Local Sweet Shop”

Life is Sweet

Life is Sweet

This did open up a number of other conversation beyond our core expertise.

In all seriousness though the main halls and conference rooms were again buzzing with excitement and there definitely seems to be a shift in our industry’s approach to the growing need for quality and turnaround times (not something that usually goes hand in hand).  Machine translation, content management systems, translation memory software, authoring software with content optimisation, (the list goes on), were all topics of conversation, but the one key element central to all of this was the professional people who use them.  We have some very talented people in our industry and they are ultimately going to be the ones who drive through the quality initiatives from within their own companies, giving the clients we serve the best possible service in this diverse and subjective industry.