Many language service providers (LSPs) struggle to articulate their unique valuation proposition to the market. That can put them at a disadvantage in a hyper-competitive market worth an estimated USD 24.2bn, of which nearly three quarters is serviced by boutique LSPs and in-house resources.
It is essential for LSPs not only to be clear on their particular mission, but also to communicate that mission effectively, whether proactively seeking out potential clients (as in sales) or drawing them in (through marketing).
Slator’s 2020 Pro Guide on Sales and Marketing for Language Service Providers offers a roadmap for developing a comprehensive strategy, including two pillars of successful business development: Supply the marketing team with the tools it needs, and let the sales team sell, rather than dragging its members into other projects.
Like sales professionals who thrive when allowed to focus core activity of generating leads and onboarding new customers, each small- and medium-sized LSP would do well to find an angle based on a niche vertical, geography, or technology. Trying to appeal to the market by being everything to everyone is a losing strategy. That said, a degree of flexibility and creativity within a specialization (e.g. selling legal translation to a technology company, or marketing translation to an insurance company) can lead to long-lasting business relationships.
Curating a brand that speaks to an LSP’s target clientele has only become more important as social media has become more popular. Among the 42 Super Agencies and Leaders on Slator’s Language Service Provider Index, LSPs with a LinkedIn page had an average of 22,940 (mean) and 5,234 (median) LinkedIn followers; for LSPs with a Twitter handle, the averages on Twitter were 2,170 and 1,114, respectively.
Of course, a referral from a satisfied client remains the gold standard in terms of granting an LSP an instant credibility boost. A smart system of compensation for sales professionals will incentivize them to generate the right kind of leads, and to convert those leads into business — which, after all, is the bottom line for sales and marketing alike.