Finding Prospects for Translation Services

5 replies
Hello to all fellow warriors.

I've been lurking here for a while, but only reading about other people's cases, so I thought it would be a good thing to take the plunge and ask for your advice.

I'm a freelance translator and I translate from English to French. I specialize in medical and IT. I've been doing this for a little more than two years now. I did various kinds of contracts through agencies here and there. Many times I felt like I was paid peanuts for my work because, among other things, I was pitched against people with low wage expectations (i.e. cheap labor), and often without much experience in the field.

Now, I'm trying to change gear, and get meatier contracts, and if possible, ones that last longer. I don't know if it's possible or reasonable, though. Until now, I have only done one-shot deals. Some company needs a specific document/software to be translated, and after that, it's done, I'm back on the hunt for another piece of work to translate.

Are there any methods to reach companies efficiently? Most of the time, companies don't openly display their email addresses on their web sites, for many good reasons, including spam. I feel like using the on-site form is kind of "doing like everyone else" and will likely be read by someone who doesn't know about my services, nor how the company could need it.

How can I reach the correct person that will be receptive to my offer? Who should I address at the beginning of my offer? Is it okay to use "to whom it may concern"?

Should I present myself as "I" or as a company name? Should I use "we", even though I'm only one individual?

I thought about using email, because of all its obvious advantages (efficient, instant, no hassle), but would it be a good idea to send my offer on paper? Or maybe both email and paper?

Is it a good idea to try to address the CEO/President directly, and use his/her name in the greeting? If I don't know exactly who is in charge of translation, if any, I'd rather aim too high than too low.

Would it be a good idea to make a cold phone call? Or should I wait until after a few days past my initial offer? Or forget the phone altogether?

Should I pitch everything at once or approach with multiple communications? I have read in a few places that it can be a good thing to make an initial offer that is short, but to the point, and then make a follow-up. But if it's not detailed enough, the prospect may miss many details that could make the difference.

Should I propose to meet in person as soon as possible?

Sorry for the bombardment of questions. I want to look as professional as I can on the first contact, but maybe I'm being a little too picky. Thanks in advance for your advice...

Simon
#finding #prospect #prospects #services #translation
  • Profile picture of the author HenryLatourrette
    Hello Simon, I was thinking on starting to also sell translation services. My pair is English Spanish and I have no experience. I can see that you didn't get any response here in the forum.

    However, I have the same doubts as you have. It's been a few days since you opened this thread, have you got to a plan yet?
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    • Profile picture of the author AnniePot
      Hi Simon
      I strongly suggest that you open an account with LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the number one business-to-business social network Worldwide with over 300 million users. There are bound to be a slew of potential clients for you there.

      If you need any assistance with methods of contacting potential clients through LinkedIn, just PM me and I'll give you some tips.

      Good luck
      Anne
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    • Profile picture of the author Steve B
      Simon,

      Welcome to the forum. You've asked a ton of questions and most folks who have worthwhile answers don't have the time to address them all.

      As it states in the forum rules (which you should read), it's best to pose one question at a time in a thread so folks can answer that question in more depth than if they have many questions.

      I read your whole post and I think the first thing you need to do is identify where the need exists for your service online. Where is there demand for English to French translation? That is the audience you must identify.

      Let's face it . . . generic advertising to the public is going to turn up very very few potential prospects for you. Until you identify and find where your audience "hangs out" (or can be found online), you are not going to have a targeted crowd . . . which is what you first should identify before you try to find answers to all the other questions you've asked.

      Obviously, businesses and corporations seem like they are the ones that will offer you the best chance for higher-paying and longer-lasting contracts. Authors might be another group that need translators. But I would think businesses, especially those that offer services, will ultimately prove to be your business audience. But you need to go beyond just businesses . . . you need to identify those that want Eng to French capability. That should be your first order of business.

      I'll let others chime in as well - and the very best to you.

      Steve
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  • Simon,

    Originally Posted by Simon3Z View Post

    I'm a freelance translator and I translate from English to French. I specialize in medical and IT. I've been doing this for a little more than two years now. Now, I'm trying to change gear, and get meatier contracts, and if possible, ones that last longer.
    Let's start with your ideal customer avatar -- I think some of your target customers include marketing VPs, Web property managers and HR managers of IT and medical / healthcare corporations, small to medium-scale companies and start-up businesses that have recently launched products and / or services for the French market, especially those that have recently posted related job ads in free and paid job sites, classified ad sites and so on; and

    Now, let's move on to how I managed in 2005, after identifying my ideal customer avatar, to sign a short term contract that has a paid trial agreement with a prominent corporation, which resulted to a much bigger, much better B2B contract with the same corporation and many other ongoing and future B2B contracts afterwards with other prominent corporations, small to medium-scale businesses, start-up businesses and even individual affiliates and marketers for my now 9-year old Certified Microsoft Partner global ICT consulting company with a multi-lingual call center, a software and Web technology development department, a multimedia marketing department and a VA leasing department:

    • Well, you now know your ideal customer avatar, so look for them and develop a list of prospects. Get their names, LinkedIn profile URLs, emails, phone / mobile / fax numbers, Skype and Twitter IDs;

    • At this point, extensively research about their relevant needs, in order to formulate a mutually beneficial custom proposal for each of them. In your custom proposals, it's best to show (not just tell) the real world results that you provided your former clients through your services (ask for the permission of your former clients if you can mention their names and / or companies and if you can show them the work that you've done for them to your prospects);

    • Through LinkedIn InMails, emails, Skype messages and Tweets -- Briefly introduce yourself, briefly talk about their recent job postings for French translators, briefly ask for possible mutually beneficial collaboration oppurtunities, briefly tell them a few of the most enticing real world results you've provided your former clients (specifically results that are most relevant to their particular needs), and briefly let them know that you're greatly interested in discussing your custom proposal in detail with them at their most convenient time -- Remember, your objective is to get a response, and not close a contract right then and there, which RARELY happens;

    • In instances where you get a response, take it from there by sending your custom proposals via email and fax, then set a phone / Skype or offline appointment where you can present and discuss in detail your custom proposals;

    • In instances where you don't get a response in the next 3 to 5 business days -- If necessary (you won't most likely need to do this if you've already received some responses from other prospects), then you can send them a follow-up message with your attached custom proposal via email and fax, and call them / send them a Skype message / send them a Tweet so as to politely inform them that you sent them an email and a fax with your custom proposal; and

    • Once you're at the point where you've successfully scheduled a phone / Skype appointment or offline presentation and discussion regarding your custom proposal -- That'd be up to you and your offer and your negotiation expertise to close a short term contract with a paid trial agreement, and regarding renewals to bigger, better and longer contracts -- That's mostly up to the scalable real world results that your offer can give them...
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  • Profile picture of the author HenryLatourrette
    I also own a few Andorid Apps on the Google Play Store and from time to time I receive translation services proposals by some individual translators. Since my App as local-based I never needed the services but I thought it was a good approach.
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