Slator’s hires column offers a glimpse into the inner workings of language service providers (LSPs) as well as translation management system (TMS) and other tech companies: how they run operations, which pricing model they use, how they engage clients, the impact of changes in the global language market, and the many challenges new hires face.
In this month’s column: Boostlingo’s Merrie Wallace touches on what else, aside from Covid, drove the shift to virtual remote interpretation (VRI). XTM’s John Herzig weighs in on SaaS pricing and selling tech vs. selling services.
Venga Global’s Brittany Gouze shares how the LSP is organized and the challenge of striking a balance between trust and growth. And Stillman Translations’ Shamiyal Shariq talks about how they stayed ahead of the post-pandemic curve by investing in tech, among other things.
Merrie Wallace – Boostlingo
Austin, Texas-based interpreting software provider, Boostlingo, named Merrie Wallace its Chief Revenue Officer on June 1, 2021. Account Management, Business Development, Sales, and Marketing report to Wallace who, in turn, reports to CEO Bryan Forrester. Wallace is based in Atlanta, Georgia.
She has an extensive background in both Fortune-100 and venture-backed software companies in the healthcare space. Prior to joining Boostlingo as CRO, she held a similar post at FairWarning and, before that, PerfectServe.
Her expertise, Wallace said, lies in “building high performance teams who have driven and sustained significant bookings and revenue growth, margin improvement, and employee and client satisfaction across multiple organizations.”
She described Boostlingo’s revenue model as a SaaS interpretation delivery and management system specifically built to serve LSPs and end users that need on-demand interpretation, whether over-the-phone (OPI) or remote (VRI).
“Boostlingo’s customer base is 65–70% healthcare and growing. My background in healthcare software and services, process improvement, and building and scaling organizations for growth made this opportunity an ideal fit,” she said.
About the massive migration away from onsite toward virtual interpretation, Wallace pointed out that while “Covid has certainly helped facilitate [it], consumerism, cost, convenience of on demand, and the emergence of on-site compliance requirements are also driving this shift.”
John Herzig – XTM International
UK-based TMS provider, XTM International, appointed John Herzig its VP of Sales on August 2, 2021. He reports to Shamus Dermody, SVP of Sales.
XTM International, headquartered in Gerrards Cross has offices around the globe including the US, Japan, Poland, Ireland, and Argentina. Herzig, who is based in Chicago, is responsible for leading the US Sales Team and refining existing sales processes.
He told Slator, “We will be building an SDR [sales development representative] team to work closely with our field sales reps, and hiring additional reps.”
According to the new Sales VP, the structure of the XTM Sales Team is “determined by geography and the market potential of a specific location.” At present, XTM has sales reps serving its growing customer bases in the UK, US, and Japan.
Herzig described the company’s business model as an enterprise SaaS TMS designed for large organizations with complex translation needs and a global client base that spans many industries.
“XTM is a pure-play software provider with no language services offering. This means we are translation service agnostic — our clients have the freedom to connect with any service provider they wish,” Herzig added.
On the trend of tech / service providers switching to a subscription-based business model, Herzig had this to say: “XTM has always had a subscription model based on the number of users. From our perspective, this is the most transparent way of pricing a SaaS solution. We’ve seen other SaaS companies experiment with pricing based on throughput and / or a percentage surcharge on translation services to fund a TMS. But we believe, as well as punishing the client for optimizing their usage of a platform with the additional charges based on throughput, this makes it very difficult for the customer to know what they are going to pay and, therefore, plan their budgets accordingly.”
Herzig has worked in various leadership roles at some of the biggest LSPs, including RWS / SDL, Lionbridge, and TransPerfect. Asked about the challenges of selling language technology versus language services, he said “Language services are fairly straightforward in the buyer’s mind: Either they need it or they don’t.”
He explained that the customer journey goes from the why-change stage to the change-to-what and then change-to-whom phases. In language services, prospects are generally focused on the latter; while in language tech, Herzig said, “customers must first see why they need to change their status quo. Once that takes place, they can navigate the next step: change to what? A standalone TMS? An LSP with a TMS? A multivendor? Single vendor? In short, there is more work to do on the buyer’s journey with language tech.”
Brittany Gouze – Venga Global
San Francisco-based LSP, Venga Global, added Brittany Gouze as Program Director on July 26, 2021. Program Managers and Senior Project Managers report to Gouze who, in turn, reports to Joanna Russell, Production Director. Gouze is based in Western Wisconsin “just outside the Twin Cities.”
She said Venga Global’s program management team was built along “a hybrid organization construct, pulling in elements of Functional, Regional, and Organizational Team Structures.” Gouze explained this allows teams and individuals to focus on and specialize in what they’re good at, even as they support customers using a follow-the-sun methodology.
As for the current linguistic talent pool, Gouze noted how “hiring markets have become much more challenging since Covid-19.” While the global talent marketplace has opened up more, offering more candidates, “it also blurs the path to the best [ones].”
Prior to Venga, Gouze worked in various Program Manager roles at Summa Linguae and Amplexor. Asked what her biggest challenge has been and how she deals, Gouze said it is “the balance of trust and growth.”
She explained: “Anytime you gain or adopt a new team, it’s important to blend into their environment. Become a part of their team and build trust together. Once we are comfortable with our processes, strengths, and areas for growth, then is the time to encourage challenges and change. Building these relationships is what I live for because, on the other side, I always become a better and stronger person.”
Shamiyal Shariq – Stillman Translations
Argentina-based LSP, Stillman Translations, named Shamiyal Shariq its Regional Sales Director for the UK on June 22, 2021. He reports to Vanina Micheloud, Director of Sales. Shariq is based in London.
Responsible for the UK and Europe, Shariq also designs customer satisfaction and loyalty programs together with Marketing; and, he said, “due to my vast experience in the public sector, I am also looking after RFPs and bids in the USA.”
Shariq has worked in localization for a decade. He joined Stillman fresh off four years at thebigword where he served as Customer Success Director. He told Slator, “At Stillman, we have a mixture of private and public customers, but most of our revenue comes from the private sector.”
He said Stillman’s sales strategy is simple: to become a knowledgeable, trusted advisor to the client. “We try to uncover our prospect’s needs, how they perceive their product, and how they plan to make their buying decision,” Shariq said, adding that this helps the team deliver “a buyer-driven sales process that’s repeatable and scalable.”
Stillman’s sales team comprises two Regional Sales Directors for the US, one for LatAm, one based in Argentina, and Shariq, all of whom report to the Director of Sales in Argentina. “I am their first hire in the UK,” he said.
According to Shariq, “Stillman has invested quite a lot on technology and their employees globally.” The LSP had already invested in expanding their VRI offer ahead of global lockdowns and before demand skyrocketed. Additionally, Shariq pointed out, “even before the pandemic, Stillman employees were mostly home-based workers and this has really helped us adapt to this new trend.”