Translation should be a seamless part of your global sales...is it?

Guest Blogger | Oct 11, 2013

No more babysitting the experts

You're running a business.  Everyone looks to you for answers and solutions - even to problems and circumstances over which you have no control.  But fortunately, for certain specialty professional services you rely on outside experts.  And they always get it right....don't they?

Seriously, doesn't it drive you nuts when you pay an expert top dollar and end up having to coach them through how to do their work?  My measure is transparency.  I want it done right without having to worry about it.  If it's on my radar, somehow we've gotten sideways.  One of my particular pet peeves is a freight forwarder whose hand I have to hold.  

But translation runs a close second.  And it's really amazing how many translation shops have the silly idea that they are merely converting words! In reality we often play into that.  After all, to really market well, globally, content must be localized, and ideally created within the target language and culture.

Realistically that can't always happen, and no translator will know your business as well as you.  So you can't simply do a document dump and walk away; but you shouldn't have to babysit! But translation is inescapably an integral step in international marketing.  And if you don't find the right partner you'll wish you had stuck with google translate.  (Please, NO.  Don't do that.  But that's how bad it can be with a poor partner.)

So for today's blog we welcome Rachel Chilson of Sajan translate with her thoughts on what makes a great translation partner. 

Shopping for translation services: 3 tips for finding a true global partner

translation service for global sales and export growth strategiesIt isn’t exactly front page news—when you’re expanding your company into new global markets, you’re going to need translation services. But what you might be finding while shopping around is that language service providers are all telling you the same things: We guarantee quality, increased cost savings and fast turnaround.

While their statements might make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, the true test lies in what they actually deliver on the road ahead.

According to a recent study by language industry expert Common Sense Advisory, 59% of North American and 77% of European translation buyers claim poor service as their primary motive for switching vendors.

When looking for translation services, you want more than the high quality you expect. You need a true partner—a dedicated team that knows the ins and outs of your business. To help you steer clear of a vendor that only wants to get you on board, I have some tips to help you know whether your translation provider is a true partner in your global growth.

Gets to know you and your business goals

True partnerships don’t happen overnight. It takes time for your vendor to get to know you and your business—but you can tell right from the start whether a translation provider is interested in developing this relationship.

From the first discovery meetings, a translation provider should ask you the following questions:
  • What are your current translation needs? 
  • What is your business and technology environment like?
  • What are your global goals?
  • What challenges or constraints are you facing, and which ones do you anticipate as you expand into new markets?
  • How many languages and markets do you focus on now and which ones? How might this change down the road?
These are just a few of the questions you should be asked, but it’s important that the vendor you’re talking to shows interest in your overall business goals, procedures and plans for long-term growth.

Caters services to meet your needs

Just as no two snowflakes are alike, every business is unique with different needs. If you’re working with a translation provider who’s constantly pushing service offerings on you that don’t apply, they don’t have your best interests in mind.

A true partner is flexible, catering services to meet your needs. A cookie cutter solution will not cut it. You can tell if a provider is a true partner by their proposed localization solution. If it takes into account your requirements and shows in detail how it does this, then you know they have a partner mindset.

For example, one company may benefit from intelligent machine translation. Another may not have the content volume to warrant this service.

A true partner understands this and works with you to create a plan based on your company’s business model, capabilities and comfort level.

Is available when you need them and checks in frequently

According to the same study by Common Sense Advisory, 89% of buyers believe that a quick response is important, but only 43% report being happy with their current vendors' execution. When obstacles around translation services stop you from getting your job done, this is an issue. A true partner should not only respond to daily requests, but also check in regularly to anticipate needs.

In fact, a true partner can be so attuned to your business that they begin to anticipate product launches and release cycles, proactively reaching out to assist in the process.

***
True partnerships don’t happen overnight, but you don’t need to wait around for months—or even years—to know if your vendor has your needs in mind. Only by asking the right questions and showing interest in how your business operates, can a true relationship be formed. With this relationship comes mutual trust—where projects are completed to your liking.

It’s not uncommon for translation providers to proudly boast that they’re your partner in global growth, but the true test lies in their actions—and from the very beginning. If you need further advice on finding a true partner, please comment below.

Rachel Chilson (@RachelChilson_) is a marketing communications coordinator with Sajan, Inc. 

4 Immutable Laws of International Marketing