What Do Localization Clients Want?

Antoine Rey WelocalizeAntoine Rey, Senior Director of East Coast America, Europe, and Asia Sales at Welocalize, has worked in the localization industry for 17 years. He has been working at Welocalize for the past eight years, helping enterprise clients and global brands to successfully develop and implement localization business and operational models. Antoine is hosting “Gaining Efficiencies in Marketing Localization,” presented by Juliet Elliott and Hajo von Kracht from SAP, on day one of the upcoming Localization World 2014 Conference in Dublin.

In this blog, Antoine looks at the art of selling in the localization world by listening to what the client wants and making sure everyone’s objectives are met.

For many years, business and sales professionals were taught what a small number of people thought customers want. A popular sales approach was selling purely by features and benefits. This resulted in sales teams across the world giving extravagant dog and pony shows, presenting featured components of their product or service then sitting back and hoping the client will be suitably impressed and buy. This left a legacy of over-staged performances and a negative connotation stuck to the sales profession. Thankfully, the art of selling has evolved and it has become more customer-centric for the benefit of all involved.

This change of approach was also accelerated by the blockbuster bestseller, “Customer Centric Selling” by Mike Bosworth, John Holland and Frank Visgatis. Initially released in 2003, it provided a new sales approach, focusing on empowering people to buy rather than aggressively pushing pricing and product benefits.

Key to successful customer-centric selling is that you have to listen to your customers. In the business world, you have to sell by value. Clients need to know how and why a particular product or solution will impact their bottom-line. For the localization industry, clients need to know how localization programs will help their overall globalization strategy and meet their international growth targets.

I have worked in localization as a sales director for over fifteen years and I have learned that to be successful you have to listen to your clients. You must also recognize that even if you are working with one organization, there will be more than one stakeholder — the company, the client’s localization team and the individual. Each stakeholder’s objectives and agenda must be aligned to ensure you meet all business targets. To make a difference and impact a client’s globalization strategy, language service providers have to address and meet key objectives for everyone.

1. Company Objectives

My main goal when engaging our team for a client is to make sure we understand the following questions. What is the overall corporate business driver? Why are they doing what it is they are doing?

We always understand in client discussions or RFPs, there will always be goals of cost, quality, and time to market. These are inevitable, required and understandably, always requested. Yet, understanding what drives the business to localize content is crucial. We need to know why websites, software, technical publications, eLearning or marketing materials are translated into a certain number of languages How does this change each financial year? For example, a newly appointed VP of International Sales needs to bring the international revenue of a company from 20% of global sales to 50% within three years. How does this impact localization strategies? In another example, the executive team for a global brand needs to decide which new markets are going to generate the 20% growth their company needs over the next three years. Beyond the boardroom, everyone in the company who is involved in localization and globalization needs to be behind these goals.

To achieve successful globalization, the client localization group and localization vendor have to be an integral part of the overall business strategy and know what the corporate mission and goals are – even if they keep changing. These are the real goals and we need to work together to reach them.

2. Client Localization Team Objectives

The corporate goals must dictate what the client localization team objectives and plans are at all times. If not, that team will fail or fall under pressure from internal and external detractors!

This is why big data analytic and key performance indicators (KPIs) come into the picture to support the other objectives of cost, quality, and time-to-market. Any program we build for clients has to give the client localization team the data and support they need to demonstrate that all localization decisions are in line with the corporate business objectives.

This is where the need for automated workflows, integrated project accounting and business intelligence reports to support KPIs and the service-level agreements. The localization vendor and the client localization team must work together to build a rock solid operational infrastructure, ideally underpinned and supported by the principles of operational excellence (OPEX). This allows the client and vendor to produce international content in a cost-effective manner to the required quality standards and delivered on time.  Each of these are measurable so they can be shared with internal and external stakeholders and progress chartered in line with the corporate objectives.

3. Individual Objectives

If the corporate and localization goals fit together nicely, then this is all good news for the personal and career objectives of the champion driving localization within the client organization.

Anyone who works in the localization industry will know that life is not always easy. Quite often, the key localization contact will usually have to navigate through a number of J-curves and curve balls. I can see many heads nodding.  The individual will also need to surround themselves with a sphere of influence, constantly evangelize internally and externally and share best practices. There’s no point keeping good stuff to yourself – share it and your reputation will soar.

In the next month, Welocalize will host their semi-annual LocLeaders Forum in Dublin. The event is attended by Welocalize clients and hosted by myself and Smith Yewell, Welocalize CEO. We purposely do not present our story, not a dog or pony in sight. We simply have a number of key localization topics that we debate, fueled by a panel of clients and translators going through similar experiences, both successes and challenges. It is in all our interest to share what does not work, as these tend to be more interesting and help us all learn from each other. This is where best practices are shared, myths dispelled and those people in the driver’s seat of client localization programs can hear and share where value has been created in globalization strategies.

Globalization can be a complex and challenging for any global brand. If you know and meet the objectives of all parties involved, then your localization programs will be a success.

Hope to see some old and new friends next month in Dublin at the LocLeaders and Localization World events, where we can discuss your strategies and what is top of mind for you.