Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Annoyed They're Asking for a Free Sample? You Should Be Happy! And Let Me Tell You Why.

Before we move on, let's keep in mind a sample is not the same as a test. There is a difference between being sampled and being more or less formally graded, and most translators should be more wary of the latter than they already are.

… Not so with free samples, however.

I understand the annoyance and discomfort of being asked to provide some of your work free of charge, but let me be open with you — you can get over it. Suspend your displeasure and allow me to explain.

What I'm proposing is a pragmatic look. Imagine yourself sitting at the chessboard. You're playing to win the whole, not to find pleasure or comfort, or avoid displeasure or discomfort, in the individual moves. A move is good or bad depending on how it serves your goals. If you come out on top and win the game because of that move, then it was a good move, even if you allowed the opponent to take your queen with short-term impunity.

There's a military saying that no fire hits home better than friendly fire. Doubtless you're familiar with the concept of being caught in one's own snare, poetically speaking; falling into your own trap. This is precisely what can happening to your counterparty in the negotiation if you keep your calm and consider how providing them with that sample can serve your goals in the longer run and advance your position instead of the opposite.

Generally speaking, there is no better marketing than good work and happy clients. There's a reason all those companies are peppering the market with free testers and tasters, satisfaction guarantees and generous cancellation terms. They want the product or service to touch the client!

And when you provide a free sample, your service, the product of your work, touches the client. And that is a very powerful message. If you're good, the client can take a look and see that with his own eyes, hear it, touch it, smell it; it's tangible, it feels more real, it connects better, it hits harder. In a way, this is similar to how having some face time with the client is usually better than mailing, chatting or even calling.

By exposing the client to your work in this way, you're getting so much closer to your goal, which is convincing your client that you're good and better than the alternatives.

This goes down to 'show, not tell'. Feel like explaining to your client, verbally, how your degrees, years of experience and whathaveyou make you (more) qualified and justify paying you (more) serious money?

Instead of have to plead your case like that, where the client turns into a powerful judge and jury and you're like that small-town lawyer dominated by an overbearing judge, you can simply throw your bait and wait to see the results.

If your your work is good, it will speak for itself and make its own case, at least if the client is serious, such as the typical semi-sophisticated buyer in B2B who may not be an expert but has been there, done that and has the scars to show.

In the last decade I've noted how certain companies delay the discussion of your rates to the last, making you jump through all their hoops first, almost asking you to sign the actual contract before filling in the rate.

Obviously, one of the effects of that strategy is escalation of commitment, making it more and more difficult for you psychologically to quit the negotiation after (i) all the declarations of readiness to co-operate that you've already made (which makes you look inconsistent or even unreliable, as in less of a man or woman of your word for turning around) and (ii) so much investment of your time, effort and hopes that you're now unwilling to accept as a total loss and move on, so you look for a compromise solution to cut your losses.

They will exploit that further by boiling the frog, gradually asking small concessions from you until the sum total of them becomes significant and you've moved, in small steps, a huge distance away from where you were and where you wanted to be (but each and every individual concession was too trivial on its own to put up much of a fight, not worth damaging the goodwill, etc., as they may have been amply, and aptly, reminding you along the way).

Depressing, ain't it?

But you can turn the table around on them.

They're asking for bait, so throw it to them. Grant their request, make them think — consistently with objective reality — that they got what they want and are moving on as planned, according to their own game plan.

… Except you've been forewarned about all the potential psychological effects, so you can shrug them off more easily as they come and even plan your time investment in that negotiation in a conscious way, keeping things under control and avoiding uncontrolled escalations (or escalations controlled by the other party).

Now, there's no obligation and no reason for you to in any way let them know that you know their game plan.

So you just give them the sample they requested, which will from now on act as your fishing bait, you put on your psychological kevlar suit, sit back and watch as the bait does its work. And they aren't expecting it!

Something to consider:

If you actually paid for a marketing/advertising campaign, it would probably largely come down to highlighting your good work to date and the promise of more. Also targeted direct marketing would most probably involve having a decision-maker take a look at your existing work, be impressed and give you some projects as a result. And this is exactly what you're going to achieve by giving someone with decisionmaking authority a sample when requested.

The difference comes down to who's asking whom to show or look. Don't allow such meaningless minutiae to distract you from your goal, which is to close the deal by establishing your value — one way or other. Getting your way in the short term and in small details shouldn't distract you from getting your way in the long term and big picture.

And you aren't even sacrificing your queen here. It's a knight or bishop, tops.

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