Managing Your Localization Career: Sales & Account Management

This blog post is part of a series on managing a career in localization.

white mug on a wooden table

“Sales is not about selling anymore,
but about building trust and educating.”
– Siva Devaki

Sales jobs are in the highest demand in the localization industry. That may be surprising to hear, but it’s true. As proven from years of recruiting, sales openings are plentiful, but also the most challenging to fill as they take just the right type of person to be a good fit.

In localization, sales positions are uniquely offered at LSPs. They bring in client relationships and revenue for the companies. It is an coveted role and is best suited for people with motivation, persistence, and a drive to achieve and win.

Sales efforts can be divided up into two major categories: developing new business and cultivating existing business.

New business developers, also called hunters, find prospects, create new relationships, and bring in fresh accounts to the company. People who look out for what is new do well in this role. From their point of view, the market is full of opportunities and possibilities. Success can feel like a win and the compensation can be generous.

Growing existing business is called account management, or farming. Since client relationships are already established, the main objective is to keep the accounts active and bring in new projects and revenue opportunities. Account management is suited for people who maintain strong relationships and develop them over time.

Localization sales opportunities are complex and specialized and can take a long time to develop. Success is found in building lasting partnerships and long-term relationships.

To try to generate sales from the start requires focused and organized effort. Sales cycles can go on for a while and include identifying and generating leads, breaking the ice and opening doors, pitching and presenting to potential clients, negotiating deals, and closing the sale. Each of these phases must be handled professionally to be successful.

For example, to generate good leads the salesperson should focus on opportunities that would be the best fit for their company. They should understand the strengths and differentiators their company possesses and be able to communicate them as advantages over the offerings of other companies. Like, if a company has a long successful history in medical translations and has strong client relationships in that industry, sales efforts should focus on building more clients in that market sector.

Breaking the ice and opening doors can be one of the more awkward phases in sales. For some people, however, it is their favorite part. Some people naturally make others feel comfortable and can initiate conversations in a way that does not feel forced or schmoozy. Normally people shy away from being sold to but – honestly – if a company offers something someone needs, they should be open to having a discussion. Targeting correctly and offering relevant and appropriate conversations is key.

Presenting and pitching to clients requires that the salesperson is comfortable speaking competently and confidently in front of others. They must convey complex information in a compelling way and answer questions as they arise.

Negotiating includes discussing contract terms, payment agreements, and other complex details once the opportunities move forward. Negotiating is a delicate process with the ultimate goal being to come to an agreement that works for everyone. Strong and fair negotiation skills are developed over time and are valuable.

Sales roles may be specialized by industry or type of project. Since localization projects can require a lot of different areas of expertise, it is common that sales professionals become expert and focused in one type or another. A sales executive, for example, can be a specialized in technology products, or financial documents, or medical devices, or video games. They will know what the clients require, and that knowledge will come across as a credible. That credibility could be a significant advantage to winning business.

Sales professionals can receive potentially generous compensation. Salary plans often include incentive bonuses and commission in addition to a base salary which, in successful times, can be lucrative.

What kind of experience or skills should I have for work in sales and account management?

Someone who is interested in sales and is just starting out could try to find a company that supports learning on the job. Working with real clients and opportunities with a more senior sales executive would be an excellent experience. Knowing how to sell in general will be important. Taking classes on creating presentations, public speaking, professional sales communication, and negotiating will be valuable. Further, having solid working knowledge of customer relationship management systems (CRMs) will likely be required. There are numerous sales training resources and programs on the market that are worth a look. Learning and growing in this kind of role never ends and can only add to ever better skills and techniques.

Who might find sales and account management challenging?

People who are uncomfortable reaching out to strangers will not like to work in sales. People who have a hard time bouncing back from rejection will find it challenging and potentially defeating. Anyone who doesn’t like presenting or trying to be persuasive to make a sale happen can find it an uncomfortable or unsuitable profession overall.

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