Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Benefits of Giving Your Clients Multiple Options

The way of many translation agencies and corporate clients is to send you a completely defined project — including deadline and even fee — which you're supposed to either accept or reject but not really negotiate.

Younger or newer translators working with agencies may consequently feel that their place is to simply accept and execute such define projects or decline it, end of story. Fortunately, life is not as simple as that.

Working with business clients and still quite a lot of traditionally minded translation companies is different. They ask how long it's going to take and how much it's going to cost, and it's up to you to answer.

And guess what. You don't need to consult your crystal ball for the only one right answer, nor do you get only one chance. You can give them a variable quote and have all your bases covered.

The sum total of alternatives is a better answer to your client's needs — and your profitability — than a one-size-fits-all quote.

How is this better for the client is quite obvious: You provide the options, the client chooses what's best for the client. The client doesn't end up paying for what the client doesn't need (or not as much of).

On the other, how it is better for you will take a little longer to explain.

A variable quote takes a bit more to write, so there is an upfront investment of time, but it ultimately saves your time, as it reduces the follow-up — inquiries, negotiation etc.

Next, formalized options help focus your clients' attention on making choices and proritizing their needs as opposed to tempting them to haggle with you. If you do make a concession, it will be more tangible than a nebulous small favour.

Finally, you have three horses in the race now, in case your client is also getting quotes from other people (which is quite likely these days):
  • your cost-optimized offer competes against cheap offers
  • your speed-optimized offer competes against fast offers
  • your balanced offer competes against generic and middle-ground offers
This way you can:
  • accommodate outliers (special cases and needs)
  • but still have a balanced offer on the table
  • and still score brownie points for having what your client needs, even if it's one of 3 or 4 options for the client to pick from as opposed to a smart, lucky guess on your part (and the difference between your client and your toxic ex is that your client doesn't really care, as long as the need is met).
You can still be outcompeted by someone else, naturally, but not because you simply gave up without even trying, i.e. didn't have a contender in whatever category of race was important to your client.

All this is requires is not being a lazy person, or one that compulsively tries to be both fastest and cheapest (and still the best quality), so you have no excuse.

And let me tell you something: Clients like options. They don't necessarily pick the cheapest one, either, and if they do, then they are less likely to dispute the deadline. You will never know if you don't try.

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