Written by contributing writer, David García González, Founder, GoLocalise
As is likely to be the case for many businesses, this continuing constant uncertainty means persuading our clients to spend money with us can still be a challenge. For us, we think, as you might imagine, localising content is essential, but for many of our clients, it is an extra service. They might say, ‘We already have our campaign in English. Do we really need it in another language?’ The answer sometimes varies between a maybe and a flat no. As a result, our services get cut back or dropped entirely if money is tight.
It’s at this point you might have heard you need to “think outside the box”, but what does this actually mean for an entrepreneur? It can feel very abstract. I am going to share an example that might help you to think differently about your problem at hand, and why you need to think ‘inside the box’ too.
Thinking ‘Inside’ – the sales pipeline
Aware of the challenges impacting our clients, we started to think differently about the process of winning work post-covid. As we coped with the impact of the lockdown, we started analysing our sales pipeline through a new lens with the help of a fellow entrepreneur, Michael Norbury. External perspectives are crucial.
Since starting the business, I have always been fortunate enough to enjoy a healthy number of inbound enquiries. We became good at responding with the right answers, winning projects and delivering high-quality work. Clients would come back to us time after time, which put us in the comfortable position of having regular customers. At one point, almost half of our turnover came from just one. This was great until the day that one client stopped using us.
It wasn’t because we had delivered a bad job, become too expensive or any other reason under our control. They simply lost a major client themselves, and their localisation requirements, viewed as no longer essential, fizzled out. Having learned a lesson about having all our eggs in one basket, we set about changing the profile of our client base. In our early days, 80% of our turnover was split between just four clients. Once we’d completed our analysis and work with Martin, the same 80% was split between twenty-five. With a diverse client base (or more eggs in more baskets), we aren’t so badly affected if we lose one or two of them along the way.
Winning more clients, of course, didn’t just happen. It meant shifting to a proactive state of mind and getting on the front foot. We made sure everyone in the business put part of their day aside, often a few hours in the morning, to make direct contact with a target list of organisations we might want to work with.
I say everyone, but we quickly learned sales wasn’t a role that came naturally to the entire team. People tend to split into two clear categories. There are team members who enjoy client-facing work, and they embrace the challenge of making new business contacts enthusiastically. There are also team members who definitely do not enjoy that kind of work. Typically, they are diligent and productive worker bees, and asking them to become more like butterflies flitting between phone calls, meetings, and presentations made these people miserable, which we didn’t want. Eventually, however, once we had allocated the work to the right people, we reached a happy place where proactive sales effort was embedded within our operation and culture.
Thinking ‘Outside’ – Creative campaigns
Extra effort doesn’t automatically equal better results, of course. Our problem, familiar to many salespeople, I’m sure, was speaking to the right people. Emails were unanswered, and phone messages were rarely returned. Even old-school snail mail failed to make an impact. Gatekeepers, it seemed, blocked our every move. To solve this problem, we played to our newfound strengths and set about the task creatively, our ‘outside the box’.
We have run many marketing campaigns in recent years, but I think I’ll share my favourite because it embodies our quirky, inventive spirit. We bought dozens of old-school Nokia phones that anyone from the nineties would recognise, complete with the Snake game and those iconic ringtones. We sent them in beautiful eye-catching red boxes along with out-of-the-ordinary sales letters. We sent the packages by special delivery too, as they needed to be signed for and we would know when they had arrived. Our targets were a bunch of ideal clients we had previously researched, and so we knew we wanted to work with them.
We assumed, rightly it turns out, that an actual physical parcel in these days of e-communication would get noticed and opened. Once we had proof of delivery, we would ring the mobile phone inside the box and, in a stroke, have a conversation with the person we wanted. Who wouldn’t pick up a mysterious phone when it rang? A couple of our targets said yes, and we won enough work to make a return on the investment that had made the campaign happen. Even when the response was a polite ‘no thank you’ we, at least, gained something. People appreciated our sense of humour and the effort we had gone to. They would remember our name if we contacted them in the future.
Thinking outside the box and putting a phone in a box worked for us, as well as the inside sales pipeline analysis. Consider a combination of the two in your business when you’re tackling your next challenge.
About the Author
Spanish-born David García González is an English and Spanish audiovisual translator turned multi-award-winning entrepreneur and business owner. David runs GoLocalise, a localisation company specialising in the audiovisual field (translation, subtitling and voice-overs). Under David’s leadership, GoLocalise grew three-fold and achieved international recognition. He helps businesses of all sizes communicate their messages effectively in over 100 languages. David is the author of “Chancing Your Arm: How I Made It Big In Britain”, his personal story of overcoming obstacles and succeeding in both business and life.