Yesterday my mentor with the American Translators Association took me to a workshop presented by Ken Smith from Sandler Training on how to "Upgrade Your Sales Process for Today's Environment." I'm glad it turned out to be something worthy of my rushing out of the door at seven in the morning.
My biggest takeaway is that marketing activities between a service provider and a prospect client, like everything else, have an implicit system or unwritten rule that requires a lot of thoughts and efforts to master. When trying to perfect our marketing strategies, it's always helpful to think in the shoes of our clients. This is actually not at all difficult to do because we are all clients in some aspects of life as product and service consumers.
Ken shared with us his experience shopping for a replacement window. The first window specialist he visited bombarded him with a multitude of technical terms and specificities and ended up losing him as a buyer. The second specialist he consulted with, in contrast, asked Ken why he was shopping for a replacement (how the old window was bothering him and what kind of improvement he would like to see), offered solutions, and successfully closed the deal.
To translate the moral of the story to the translation industry: our collective mindset as translators typically focus on establishing our credentials and educating our clients. What we tend to neglect in the process is presenting ourselves as a problem solver. To do that, we need to invite our prospective clients to educate us: why are they looking for this particular service? Have they had any experience with translators before? What are some of their concerns? How can I serve them better?
Ken began his presentation with a word game and asked us to rearrange scrambled letters to form a word, which I should have done better at as a devoted Scrabble player. It was an overwhelming visual presentation of just how powerful and impactful it can be if we reconstruct our marketing strategies.
The final point Ken raised that I resonated so much with was what I think of as an issue of dignity and respect when it comes to marketing or doing business in general: respect each other's time, establish in advance an agenda for the prospect meeting, charge what you are worth, and do take "no" for an answer.