How to Win Customers With the Best Deadlines,
Not the Lowest Rates

Is there any other way of winning a new client, other than by offering the lowest rates? I have spoken with dozens of translation company owners and I often ask them what their main current challenge is. Their answer comes back like a mantra, “Price pressure!”.

Clients force translation companies to lower their prices and they always happen to have a cheaper supplier that they are willing to choose if the price is not matched. On the other hand, when I ask about how companies differentiate from their competitors, in most cases it is by ”best quality at the best price”. It’s a vicious circle. Your clients expect great quality most of the time and none of your competitors offer poor quality. So, this cannot be the only differentiator. At the same time, there will always be someone offering their services for less. Competing on prices may hardly be the best long-term strategy.

There are other differentiators that may win you, new clients. It may be a low business risk, your ability to handle specialized texts or formats, specialization in a specific field, or short deadlines. With clients sending more and more rush jobs, short deadlines have become the crucial component of the winning offer.

Let me share with you 5 easy steps for shortening your deadlines:

1. Use automated vendor selection

Finding vendors who are available to start a translation or proofreading immediately always takes a lot of time. Project managers spend many hours every week contacting translators to find the ones that can take on a new assignment. Not only do they lose time, but their work also costs real money. So when a project is very small, this task consumes virtually the entire project margin. To win, you need to automate vendor selection with an automatic availability check and predefined vendor selection rules. That way you will surely start the project much faster, which is the first step to a quick delivery.

2. Deliver automatically

Would you agree that delivering a completed project is a great opportunity to develop your relationship with the client and ask for new business? Of course! At the same time, if it is the deadline that counts most for your client, you have to act accordingly. Your system could inform the client when the project workflow is finished and the files are available at a given link or location. The system will always deliver a project faster than a project manager, because the system is always working, always has time and sends information within seconds.

3. Be available 24/7

If you want to be the fastest, you need to be available when your client needs you. Building an operations team that works all the time would be pretty expensive, and it’s not an option for most translation companies. However, cooperating with a client through a dedicated online portal is very cost effective and enables 24/7 availability. All you need is to invite your clients to order their new projects and requests through a dedicated online tool so that they can be processed automatically. Such a client portal is a website. It is always there – working night and day.

4. Define different services

You can do one more thing to reduce deadlines. Agree with the client what service he would expect for different types of assignments. While TEP (translation-editing-proofreading) remains the most popular service, it might not be the best for small and rush jobs. Maybe a “Translation + simple Quality Assurance” would be enough? Or maybe something else? The fewer the steps, the shorter the deadline. Don’t assume you always know the answer for your client. Ask precise questions about how clients would like to be served, and then define for your client the specific services in their client portal.

5. Give your clients control

When we talk about rush jobs, clients really appreciate always having up-to-date information. Give them control over starting their project, accepting a quote, or monitoring the progress of their projects – all through a client portal. They will love it.

Being a great supplier to your clients does not mean you need to be the cheapest. In the end, clients buy services to achieve their business goals. Discover what they are and act accordingly. With the global economy accelerating every day, by offering the best deadlines you can even increase your rates and still continue winning new customers.

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Andrzej Nedoma
Andrzej Nedoma is the Co-founder and CEO of XTRF Management Systems, a global translation management platform provider for translation companies of every size, in-house corporate language departments, and public organizations. His company helped hundreds of translation and localization agencies in 30 countries to leverage their potential. Andrzej was awarded with the Polish Entrepreneur of the Year 2006 title in the category “Services”.

He has been building his translation industry expertise since 1996 as a business development manager and as a Managing Director for a leading Central European translation company LIDO-LANG Technical Translations which was eventually sold to Sepro Group from Spain.

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