Gain direct clients offline

Despite the wonders of the internet, and all of the above methods to reach new clients, these tried-and-tested techniques still work for many:

-         Cold calling

-         Cold mailing

They may not be as cost effective as email, or as wide reaching as social media, and they can be unwelcome for recipients of calls and letters. Who hasn’t sat through mind-numbing scripts being read out monotonously down the phone, and then made polite excuses to end the call early? Or scanned over those boilerplate letters offering you ‘unbelievable’ deals…

Well, I don’t think it has to be this way. Phones and posted letters can indeed be your friends. Being creative and genuine with your calls and letters can lead to natural conversations and conversions.

There is a simple method you can use with these which has worked for me and is certainly worth a try. When calling or writing be sure to:

o   Check relevance

Check that the company really would benefit from your translation expertise, and think of how they might use it to a) save time or b) make money.

o   Be clear

Bear in mind not to let the conversation or letter stray from business. The aim is to ask just a few simple questions over the phone, or to highlight how you can help by letter, as trying to make the sale too early is pointless and could waste the opportunity.

If you establish that they don’t need any form of translation services at the moment, offer to place them on your mailing list for future offers.

What to say?

What can you say, then, to establish a working relationship over the phone or in writing? The goal with this particular approach is to advance down the sales pipeline, either with a meeting in person or with a view to setting one up at a later date.

One method for the phone is to arrange to meet in person. If inviting them into your home office or local café isn’t ideal, this method essentially creates a potential invite to their office, while offering them value in exchange.

“Hi, I’m Luke, a [specialism] translation consultant, and I’ve seen your work with [x]. I’m researching [local] companies who might provide interesting reading for the [specialism] businesses who visit my website. Could I come out to meet you this week to hear more about how your company works?”

At worst, you get a “no, sorry, not interested,” which you should make a note of and perhaps try only once again in the future. At best you go to meet them, you hear how they work and use that information to let them know where you can add value to their business.

You also offer their website an SEO boost by featuring them on your site, and they may then go on to hire you, talk about you or refer you to their colleagues.

At the meeting be prepared to take notes for the article, which might also be a future case-study if it goes to plan. This will build trust in other prospects looking at your site and continue the cycle.

Another way to write an effective sales letter is to show that you have researched the prospect’s company and would like to arrange a meeting to discuss collaboration, again in order to a) increase sales, or b) reduce costs.

Upon meeting these prospects, aim to find out who and where their clients are, which markets they plan to test, what changes their industry is undergoing, how often they release new products, how they currently handle translation projects, if they do, and how they see translation improving their business.

If you can demonstrate a clear way for you to add value to their business then there’s every chance you will be invited to put together a proposal after the meeting.

That one phone call or letter to find out more about the company can lead to a range of opportunities that would rarely be explored by email. That is why there is hope yet for the cold call and letter. It just has to be done in a smarter way to work in this day and age.


Thanks for reading. I do translation from French and Swedish to English, so if that's useful to you, feel free to connect and message me on LinkedIn or Twitter.