LSPs, Stop Making These 10 Mistakes in Your Sales






Are you also one of those language service providers (LSPs) who would like to sell your translation services, but you think there's no point in trying to sell them because you’ve approached a few potential clients without making a sale? 

Don’t hate me for saying this, but selling requires a lot more effort, time, and energy.

In this article, we'll explore this mistake and other common mistakes and discuss how LSPs can overcome them to make their sales efforts fruitful.

1.    Not having a sales strategy or any growth strategy

Without a clear sales strategy and growth plan, you risk operating aimlessly. If you don’t know where you are going, then it doesn’t matter which turn you will take at the crossroads. Do you also do that when you travel to another city? 

As Zig Ziglar put it nicely, you cannot hit a target you don’t see, and you cannot hit a target you don’t have. Develop a comprehensive sales strategy that aligns with your general business goals, and regularly reassess and adjust it to adapt to market changes and emerging opportunities. Because things change, we change, and circumstances in this turbulent world change by the minute.

2.    Not having an organized sales process at all

An organized sales process is the backbone of any successful sales strategy. What does sitting and standing feel like when your backbone hurts? Without a structured approach, you risk losing motivation and not developing new habits and skills that are the cornerstone of success in any field. In the long run, you risk losing potential clients and revenue just for this relatively simple trick. 

Establish a clear and well-defined sales process that contains a step-by-step approach so anyone can do it and jump in, be it translators or project managers.

3.    Not using the potential of social selling

Social selling is a game-changer if done properly. LSPs often underestimate the power of social media platforms in building relationships and generating leads by spotlighting themselves, grammar mistakes, and office stories no one cares about. 

First and foremost, share valuable content that helps your potential clients feel you, reap some little benefit from your content and start trusting you. Only later showcase your expertise in the language services industry. Trust building starts with the captured attention.

4.    Believing that only translation conferences bring ideal customers

While translation conferences are valuable for networking and finding LPS clients, relying solely on them can limit your reach and profitability as we all know how many companies are in the profit chain when you work in such a setup. 

Explore diverse avenues for client acquisition, such as online target client platforms and meeting points, target client forums and events, to expand your client base beyond the confines of traditional approaches.

5.    Giving up on sales efforts too soon

Patience is key in sales, just like in life. LSPs frequently make the mistake of giving up on potential leads too soon and only after a few direct messages or phone calls. The truth is hardly anybody needs translation services in the moment you get in touch with them, but they might need them later. The purpose of your interactions should be for your potential clients to remember you once they need your services. 

Therefore, cultivate a persistent mindset, follow up consistently, and nurture relationships by sending thank you notes, and best wishes for birthdays, religious holidays, and the like.

6.    Seeing sales as manipulation

Sales should be viewed as a collaborative process aimed at meeting the needs of both parties. Avoid the misconception that selling is synonymous with manipulation. Selling is just showing your customers alternatives and helping them make the best decision. Selling is essentially giving. Focus on building trust, understanding client requirements, and delivering language solutions that genuinely benefit your clients. 

7.    Not understanding that selling is in every sphere of our lives

Sales is not confined to the office; it permeates every aspect of our lives. Someone sold you the idea that you need a logarithmic function back in high school and you sell your ideas to your kids or partners every day.

You should recognize that effective communication and persuasion skills are valuable in both professional and personal spheres. Enhance your overall communication skills to improve client interactions and all relationships with your project managers, in-house translators, suppliers and other stakeholders.

8.    Not knowing who your ideal clients are

Knowing your target audience is fundamental to successful sales. We often see that LSPs are almost scared to define an ideal client because they find it hard to have only one. But this is not the point of having an ideal client profile You can have multiple ideal clients and working on them is a continuous activity because ideal clients change. 

If you translate medical devices and legal texts, it is impossible to have one ideal client for this. So, identify and fully understand a couple of your ideal clients, their needs, wishes, desires, goals, dreams, and pain points. And then tailor your sales approach to address the specific challenges your clients face because they will finally hear you.

9.    Hiring salespersons who know nothing about the industry

Many LSPs are rather busy small or medium-sized companies, and it is difficult to focus on sales amidst often complex projects and inhumane deadlines. And might hate sales in addition. That is why they often quickly hire sales professionals who don’t know the ins and outs of the language services industry when revenues start dropping.

But they forget that sales efforts take a while to bring new customers. Especially if someone is a newbie and doesn’t know how translation memories and analyses work, and how to negotiate a deal with potentials who have their TMs and use machine translation and AI already. 

10.    Believing someone or AI can sell instead of you

Technology and artificial intelligence can improve sales processes, but they cannot replace human contact. They can put you in touch with a potential customer, but from that point on you have to do the actual communication work with the real person. No company is likely to entrust a project worth EUR 100,000 to a bot. The personal and non-verbal communication of your interlocutor is crucial for sales success. Therefore, maintain a human connection to promote authenticity, as this is the most important thing you can offer in the red ocean of similar translation service providers on the internet.

On the one hand, many LSPs find the language services industry amazing because they are willing to collaborate on large projects and share best practices with their peers and “co-opetitors”. On the other hand, the industry is simultaneously characterized by cut-throat competition and price undercutting, especially in translation tenders. This is why developing your sales skills is crucial. As Grant Cardone put it nicely – sell or be sold.



Zoran Metikoš

I help language service providers (LSPs) grow as businesses and their employees grow as professionals by providing unique business development consulting and growth mindset coaching for executives and middle managers. My company, Profecta BDI, not only helps LSPs find new clients, but also grow as companies, professionals and individuals. The stability of the company and a good corporate culture are the foundation for growth. After graduating in Linguistics and Translation in 2003, I started working as a translator and translation tool trainer in SAP localization and eventually worked as a project coordinator, business developer and operations manager at LSPs for 17 years until 2020. After completing my MBA at the School of Business and Economics in 2015, I came up with the idea of helping many LSPs grow and learn how to develop as businesses and professionals. I'm also a certified professional coach and NLP Master Practitioner.