Tips for Onboarding New T&I Clients

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The onboarding process for any type of business is a truly important one to carefully consider and refine. But what about for a translation or interpreting professional? The first impression you give a potential client is ultimately one of the main reasons people will choose to work with you or not. So, making sure that your onboarding process is well thought out can help clients remember you for your professionalism. Onboarding clients well is an great way to show that you have a real process and plan in place, which can reassure customers that they were right to reach out to you in the first place.

If you're like me and you have found that most of your clients have come to you by way of referrals, then this process is one that you can improve time and again when onboarding new clients. Here are my top three tips on how to onboard new translation or interpreting clients in your business.

Tip #1: Let your client know what it's like to work with you from the very beginning.

As professionals who tend to work mostly online with our clients in this digital age, it is even more important than ever to start with a great first impression. Once you know who your ideal client is, you can tailor the experience to fit those you'd like to work with, those you want to attract as clients. You could also think of this as a way to weed out those who would not make ideal clients.

 To read more about how to appeal to ideal clients, check out How to Determine and Attract Your Ideal Client.

Think of your onboarding experience as a storefront window. A lot of clients are interested, but they don't necessarily know exactly what they need. This is your time to shine. To show your expertise. To let your clients know what it will be like to work with you. When they ask you for a quote, give them a little more information with the quote. This allows you to focus less on a number (the quote) and more on yourself as the expert they need.

Include with your quote, what the client can expect from you with regard to questions you will need them to answer about the assignment(s) they send you. Fill them in on your working hours and how you prefer to be contacted (and ask how they like to be contacted, too). Include a questionnaire or preliminary questions you may have about their inquiry. Be creative and tailor this introduction to reflect your business and personality.

Tip #2: Create templates!

When you have a real process in place, you can truly utilize the power of well designed and well written templates. If you plan to respond to potential clients with an email, take some time to create several templates that outline everything in Tip #1.

To read more about creating email templates, check out How to Create Email Templates to Implement in Your T&I Business and Save Time.

If you prefer to have a face-to-face conversation, provide a response with a link to your calendar/schedule so that the client can choose a time to discuss their needs with you on a virtual call or over the phone. While this approach may seem more time consuming than shooting off an email, it is very effective in landing clients for service-based businesses. Give it a try!

Tip #3: Build a sales funnel.

This may sound daunting, but it truly doesn't have to be. Outline how you plan to talk to new clients from the time of inquiry until the time you deliver a project (and after). If you have a wait list or a delay in the time an inquiry comes in and the time you are able to start working on a client's project, make them aware of this right away. But make sure you show them why you're worth waiting for!

During the onboarding process, it is vital to discover a client's pain points, i.e. problems or challenges. Explain how you can help solve these problems with the service(s) you provide. Make your value proposition very clear so that the client is not riddled with more questions than when they reached out to you. Ideally, your sales funnel should always have a "next step", i.e. a follow-up of some sort so that you continue to be in touch with the client. This is something you'll make better over time, as you never want to come across as spammy or salesy, but you do want to come across as the perfect addition to their collaborative team.

Lastly, don't drop the ball after you deliver a service. Follow up with your client after delivery with a handwritten or typed (and signed by hand!) letter to let them know you value their business and look forward to working with them in the future. You might even do something extra, something unexpected. Again, the point is to set yourself apart from the rest. You could include an elegant bookmark, a gift card to a coffee shop in your client's local area or another fun surprise that leaves a lasting impression in addition to your outstanding work and service.

The client onboarding process should never be overlooked. It's how you give that meaningful first impression to a client. Again, this process can and should be refined over time. It can change. You will want to keep looking at what worked and what didn't, what you can do better or differently. For ideas on how you might be successful in onboarding new clients, take a look at how key professionals in other industries tend to do it. Or consider your most memorable experiences as a customer. What made you feel valued? What made you return? Take those ideas and start a list. Now, you have something to work with and you can customize it to fit your business, your personality, and most importantly, your clients.


For more ideas on how to successfully market to and onboard new clients, be sure to sign up for one of the two webinars I'm offering this month: How to Leverage Your Online Presence to Market Your Translation or Interpreting Business. The 90-minute webinar will provide you with actionable steps that you can take right away to boost your presence online, attract high quality clients and avoid mistakes in online marketing of your translation or interpreting business. The Q&A session will allow you to get your questions answered in real time, or, if you're not able to make it in June, you can simply sign up and you will still receive the recorded webinar, workbook and more.

More is Not Better When It Comes to Your T&I Client List

More is Not Better When It Comes to Your T&I Client List | www.madalenazampaulo.com | Translation and Interpreting

Everyone wants to grow their client list. After all, who wouldn't, right? It's part of being a business owner, no matter if you are a freelancer or if you manage several people who work for you. It's good to always have more clients coming in the door… but quantity over quality is often not a good idea, and that includes in business. When you have high quality clients (i.e., ideal clients), then you don't necessarily have to have an ever-growing client list. Once you have consistent work coming in from those ideal clients, you can shift your focus more to maintaining those client relationships by refining the client experience, and then a slower incoming trickle of new clients won't seem so much of a make-or-break issue.

To read more about finding that sweet spot with quality clients, check out How to Determine and Attract Your Ideal Client.

Just like most things in life, when you focus on quantity (i.e. how many new clients you can gain or how many clients you currently have), losing sight of quality can easily create more issues for you. If you are constantly striving for more, you will find yourself always wishing you had more. And frankly, you cannot possibly focus on sustainable growth or nurture client relationships with your best clients if the focus is always on when that next project will be coming down the pipeline.

By choosing to focus on attracting and maintaining lasting relationships with quality clients, you will find that you have more time to work on the things you want to within your business. You can take a vacation (and leave that laptop at home!), and you can take more time for yourself and the things and people you love outside of your business. With some care and time, you can grow your business into something that sustains the lifestyle you want, rather than working to sustain your business and income until that next payment arrives.

Rather than trying to convert every lead that comes your way, or take on every project that is offered to you, be more selective. Make some non-negotiables when it comes to the work and clients you take on. Do you want to avoid working after a certain hour of the day and on weekends? Quality clients mean that you can achieve this. Do you want to drop projects that you find absolutely tedious and draining? Seeking clients (and maintaining an ongoing, positive relationship with them) whose work you value in terms of content will allow you to do this.

Don't get stuck in the "But what if next month is slow?" cycle or way of thinking. Decide to make an effort to attract those clients that will make you feel satisfied with your work, because the quality of the client and the quality of the service(s) that you can provide to them match up. After all, if you're always taking on quantity (volume), then the quality of what you produce will suffer as a result. It is impossible to keep up with quality if you are accepting every project that crosses your desk. It's okay to say "No."

When trying to determine whether a client is "high quality" or not, ask yourself these questions:

  • Would you like to hear from them whenever they come knocking, or would their projects feel like tedious tasks that make you less than excited about sitting down at your computer to complete their projects?
     

  • Do you like to work with them because of the type of work you can do for them (subject matter, their mission lining up with your own values, etc.)? This may even be the case if the client doesn't have the budget to pay your higher translation or interpreting rate. As long as you feel good about the working relationship and the value you provide (as well as the value the projects provide to you as a professional), you may very well think of them as a high quality client.
     

  • Does the work you receive from the client allow you to be open to new opportunities later? For example, is the subject matter is something that will help you to pick up new (and high quality!) clients because of the experience you're gaining by working on their projects?

Be sure to reassess your client list from time to time. If there is a client you'd rather not work with in the long term, put your energy toward gaining more of those you do want to work with, and set a goal to let go of those that are less than ideal.

By focusing on quality over quantity when it comes to your client list, you will see that you are happier with the work you do and the value you provide. This satisfaction will carry over to other areas of your life. You will produce better content and output as a result. You will be able to spend more time on the things that you want to work on after you've met the deadlines set by these quality clients. And last, but definitely not least, you will simultaneously be refining your craft with the work you get from these clients. This alone is enough reason to take a hard look at how your clients shape up when it comes to quality vs. quantity.


If you want to gain some ideas on how you can utilize your online presence (social media, website, directory profiles, etc.) to gain more of those high quality clients, be sure to sign up for one of the two webinars I'm offering this month: How to Leverage Your Online Presence to Market Your Translation or Interpreting Business. The 90-minute webinar will provide you with actionable steps that you can take right away to boost your presence online, attract high quality clients and avoid mistakes in online marketing of your translation or interpreting business. The Q&A session will allow you to get your questions answered in real time, or, if you're not able to make it in June, you can simply sign up and you will still receive the recorded webinar, workbook and more.

Five Website Mistakes Translators and Interpreters Make and How to Fix Them

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The fact that everything is searchable online these days means that you have a responsibility to yourself and to your business to market yourself well via your website. After all, it's an expense in your business that is worth getting a return on, right? But it's all too easy to fall into the well of project overload, pushing things off until the weekend or that next period of free time (psst… it's not coming!) or when things are slow in your business. But what if that proverbial project well goes dry?

You might start to think about your website and how you might tweak it to get more traction with potential customers. Ugh... but where to start?! So, instead of doing an entire website revamp or even making a few of those minor tweaks, you end up keeping your site the way it is. Months start to pass on the calendar and you haven't touched it, let alone thought about what you could do differently to attract more of your ideal clients.

And while you might not be in for the entire revamp just yet, but if you're open to planning it for the future and/or tinkering around a bit on your website, here are five website mistakes translators and interpreters often make and how to fix them. These should get you off to a great start and help you brainstorm how your new and improved site should look and feel once you're ready to tackle it.

Mistake 1: Not making a real connection with those who visit your site

As soon as someone lands on your website, it is important to make a connection with them. If your website takes a long time to load, you can lose someone. If the navigation is hard to figure out, you can lose someone. If there is too much text, you can lose someone. (I know, it's hard as word people not to be wordy, but do your best to be concise and catch your site visitors' attention right away!)

For more ideas on how to make a real connection (or not!) with your site visitors, check out this infographic What Makes Someone Leave a Website.

Mistake 2: Not creating an emotional connection in the "About" section

People want to know what it's like to work with you. So, give them that by engaging with them, creating a connection beyond the services you offer. The "About" section of your website should start by telling visitors who you are, mention some of the problem(s) they face, how you solve their problem(s) and the outcomes they can expect if they work with you. This is similar to an elevator speech, but it's in text form and should be concise without feeling stiff or cold.

Here's an example of a great "About" introduction for a fictitious translator named Susan.

Olá! My name is Susan Duncan… I am a small town Portuguese to English translator who serves big town clients all over the world by delivering translations of their marketing and communications content. I've found that companies in Portuguese-speaking countries struggle to find professional translators who really understand the corporate culture when they start to do business in and market their products in the United States. I've helped numerous clients refine their email campaigns, advertisements, internal and external communications, brand identity and social media messaging so that they can conduct business successfully in the American market and gain peace of mind in the process. 

Mistake 3: Neglecting to consider the user experience

We often fall into the habit of creating our site as we think it should feel or look without actually considering our ideal users. One way to change this habit is to have someone navigate the site in front of you. Start on the "Home" page and let them click around the site at their pace and as they desire. Don't tell them what to do or where to click next. Pay attention to what they choose and where they navigate, click after click.

What changes can you make to improve their experience? Ask them follow-up questions about what they thought they'd find by clicking on certain items. The person (or persons--even better!) should be an ideal client, if possible. This will help you determine various details about how your site should look and feel, keeping the user experience in mind.

Mistake 4: Not updating the site to fit market changes and ideal client shifts over time

Just like everything in business, markets shift. Ideal clients change. As time goes on, you see how what once worked well for you may not anymore when it comes to gaining new clients or reaching your ideal customers. As these shifts and changes take place, you too must adapt. This means your site should adapt to these changes as well. Pay attention to and keep track of the ways your ideal customers change and be ready to change with them. This is all part of doing business.

Mistake 5: Not continuing to make sure all design and branding speak to the ideal client

From time to time, you will want to update the design and branding on your website to continue "speaking" to your ideal client in a way that makes them feel like you really get where they're coming from. No one wants to read a site that's all about you. Make your site stand out to your ideal client in a way that makes them feel like it was worth taking the time to read your content. They should feel like you know them already, like you created your business (and site) with them in mind. This is the true way to win over your ideal client's heart.

For more ways to appeal to ideal clients, check out How to Determine and Attract Your Ideal Client. 

If you're making any of these mistakes, there's no reason to worry. Just fix them and move forward. Dust off that website and get to work. The key is to know your ideal client well and to write and design the site with them in mind. The rest will work itself out!


Want to learn about more ways to leverage your website and online presence? Sign up for one of the two webinars I'm offering in June 2018: How to Leverage Your Online Presence to Market Your Translation or Interpreting Business. The 90-minute webinar is chock full of actionable steps that you can take right away to boost your presence online, attract more of those ideal clients and avoid mistakes in online marketing of your translation or interpreting business. The Q&A session will allow you to get your questions answered in real time, or, if you're not able to make it in June, you can simply sign up and you will still receive the recorded webinar, workbook and more.

How to Use Referrals to Grow Your Client List

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If you're a translator or an interpreter, you know just how important it can be to get a client (or friend) referral that leads you to a great client. It helps you to build what is hopefully a sustainable and booming business. Once you define your ideal client, you'll want to get the word out to others about the fact that you're looking to grow your business or client list. But you will want to do this strategically without coming off as salesy, right?

Here are three ways you can leverage referrals to grow your client list starting today.

1. Give your clients an unforgettable experience.

Before even considering how to get more referrals for your business, it is key to treat your current clients well, first and foremost. As most of us work from home and have clients all over the map, we don't often get to see or meet with our clients. So, finding ways to give them the ultimate experience when they work with you is important in getting them to offer your name up as a referral to those in their own networks.

Think about this. When you refer your friends or family to a particular restaurant, shop or professional provider, you want them to be just as pleased as you were, right? You wouldn't refer them to someone who you thought would give them poor service or sell them a glitchy product. That's exactly how your customers feel, too. So, whenever you have the chance, make a point to wow your clients. Do something unexpected for them like throwing in a bonus translation of something that would serve them well. I'm not saying you should give away your work, but by adding an extra touch like this, you stand out a bit more than other folks who provide the same service as you. If this isn't your style, you could write a handwritten thank-you note and include a gift card to a coffee shop near their office. Remember, it's the little things that clients remember when it comes to why they love to work with you. So, give them a reason to keep coming back and keep referring others to you.

For more tips on how to effectively network with clients when you work from home, check out this post.


2. Never underestimate who you might meet or speak to at any given moment.

It's been said that you should always carry yourself as though you are representing your business or brand. This is even truer nowadays, as more and more people are in touch with each other through technology, too.

Your next referral could come from a current client or a friend, the person bagging your groceries at the supermarket, a bank teller or even a gym pal. So, staying "on brand" and "on message" is key to landing more referrals. How does technology play into this? While you shouldn't underestimate who you might speak to or meet in person, you must also be sure to carry yourself well online. I have had many friends, who I've not seen in over 10 years, refer business to me simply because they saw my social media post about something language-related, or they remembered I have a small translation agency because of a recent tweet they saw in their Twitter feed. Stranger things have happened!

3. Don't be afraid to request a testimonial. They work.

Testimonials can be one of the strongest marketing methods you can use. Don't let anyone tell you that no one reads testimonials anymore. Just look at the number of review on an Amazon product page, and this should convince you otherwise. And what's more? They're totally free. Reach out to past clients and ask them to give you a brief testimonial. As they write it, they will be reminded of just how much they liked working with you, which is never a bad thing.

Once you have a few testimonials under your belt, post them everywhere, post them frequently, but don't be spammy (of course!). Use them on your social media channels, in email campaigns to clients and on your website. If you're on particularly great terms with the person who gave you the testimonial, request that they share it on your LinkedIn profile or another professional site you use as well.

Take a look at your current client list. No matter how long it is, I am willing to bet that more than half of your clients came from referrals. And while this may not necessarily be the case for you, never give up on trying to get more referrals. They are invaluable and worth multiplying if you take a little bit of time to build stronger client relationships and get the word out more often about the work you do and what its like to work with you.

For more reading on this topic, check out Jesse Tomlinson's guest post, "Who's Watching?" on Judy and Dagmar Jenner's blog Translation Times.


For more ways to leverage your online presence, be sure to sign up for one of the two webinars I'll be presenting in June 2018: How to Leverage Your Online Presence to Market Your Translation or Interpreting Business. I'll be sharing 60 minutes of actionable steps you can take right away to boost your presence online and get more referrals, more clients who find you through search results and more. Plus, there will be a 20- to 30-minute Q&A session for you to get even more ideas for your business growth. Space is limited, so even if you cannot make it to one of the two dates/times, you can sign up and will receive the recording, workbook and more.

How to Determine and Attract Your Ideal Client

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People talk about ideal clients all the time. But what in the world do they mean? Someone who pays on time? Someone who doesn't try to low-ball you every time they contact you? Projects or assignments you enjoy taking whenever they ask? An ideal client could be all of these things, but my guess is they're even more than that. Your ideal client is someone you want to work with on a regular, ongoing basis. Your business relationship with them is smooth, uneventful and pleasant.

Of course, you can't (and shouldn't) try to be everything to everyone. If you do, you'll be pleasing no one in the process. You'll get price-shopped. You'll turn into part of all that online "noise" we all dislike so much. So, how do we determine who is our ideal client and how to attract more of them as we build our client lists?

Here are my top five ways to determine your ideal client so you can start marketing to them directly online, save time and spend less time on those not-so-ideal clients.

  1. Determine whose exact needs you are meeting with your services. Who is this person and how do your services improve their job and, in turn, their life? That's your ideal client.
     
  2. Define who values what you offer, and who you value. Knowing the answer to this allows you both to move forward in your businesses. That's your ideal client.
     
  3. Figure out which potential gaps you fill in your industry. The person who would want this gap filled? That's your ideal client.
     
  4. Decide who is willing to accept your non-negotiables. No working on the weekends or after 6:00 pm? No last-minute jobs unless the client will pay your rush fee without balking? That's your ideal client.
     
  5. Determine your differentiating factor and use it everywhere you can. This is different from number 3 above. Your differentiating factor is what sets you apart from everyone else in your language pair or field. The client who loves you for this? Yep, that's your ideal client.
     

To read more about how to differentiate yourself, check out Nine Ways to Stand Out in the T&I Industry.

Once you've determined who your ideal client is, you can target all of your marketing efforts and outward messaging, especially online, to appeal to them. It won't feel complicated. It won't come across as spammy. It will flow, and you will watch your client numbers rise. Of course, you'll want to constantly be aware of whether your ideal client is changing or adapting to market or industry shifts and refine your marketing and messaging to fit these changes. But once you've nailed down who that ideal client is, the rest will come!


If you're ready to learn more ways to leverage your online presence, be sure to sign up for one of the two webinars I'm offering in June 2018: How to Leverage Your Online Presence to Market Your Translation or Interpreting Business. It will cover 60 minutes of actionable steps that you can take right away to boost your presence online to attract more of those ideal clients through search results and more. Plus, there will be a 20- to 30-minute Q&A session for you to get even more ideas for your business growth. Space is limited, so even if you cannot make it to one of the two dates/times, you can sign up and will receive the recording, workbook and more.