“Your sales pitch should focus on the client’s needs, not on you.”
It’s not like I’d never heard this before, and in fact some of you have given similar advice on your own blogs. But you know how it is, sometimes you need to be told ten times before you do anything about it. So after attending a webinar by a consultant named Brennan Dunn in which he also hammered home the fact that clients are interested in your solution to their problem, not the boring details of your life, I finally decided to take a good, objective look at the text of my website.
What I thought was an interesting, solid spiel, was, in fact, a showroom display of every mistake in the book. Or at least the three mistakes in Brennan’s book. As he explains it, these are the characteristics of an effective pitch:
1. It does not focus on you but on the client’s need.
2. It does not sell a product but a solution
3. It does not present you as a vendor but a partner
This is the main text on my home page:
I have extensive experience with a wide range of documents, including hospital records, clinical trial documentation, medical journal articles, SPCs, lawsuits, contracts, etc. Confidentiality is of the utmost importance when dealing with medical and legal information, and I adhere to international and US regulations, including HIPAA and the EU Data Protection Directive.
Yawn. The whole section focuses on me, me, me, and all of it of it should actually go without saying. Of course I am experienced and law-abiding, or else what am I doing running a business like this?
I do make a slight effort to focus on the client in the sentence about confidentiality, but again, should they be pleasantly surprised I don’t sell information to the Chinese or read their letters to my friends over coffee?
So what are my clients looking for?
To paraphrase Brennan, they don’t wake up thinking, “What we need is an accurate translation that reads like the original, delivered on time!” If the client is a contract research organization, they’re focused on collecting and managing clinical trial data in such a manner that it will be easy for the sponsor of the study to determine whether they have a marketable product on their hands.
If the client is a legal firm, they are looking for substantiating documentation that will help them win the case. With that in mind, I rewrote the text as follows:
The foundation of a successful trial is accurate data and clear communication. Whether you are preparing for a criminal case or engaged in a clinical study, you need to be sure that the information you are presenting is rock-solid.
Dealing with documents in a foreign language adds an element of uncertainty, and an inaccurate translation can have far-reaching consequences. Partnering with Calliope Translations means access to accurate information you can safely build your case on.
Moving on. Next to my picture on the same page, this is how I introduced myself:
Welcome! I am Marie Brotnov, a certified Dutch-English translator specialized in medical and legal documents. If the translation of your document has to be impeccable in order communicate to a professional audience with the highest standards, contact me and I will be happy to discuss your project and show you how I can help.
The problem here is that I present myself as a vendor of a product, i.e. translations, rather than a professional partner. The issue with that is that it subtly presents translation as a commodity (which you try to get at the cheapest rate available) rather than a more valuable professional service. I do try to focus on the client’s need in the next sentence, but “trying to communicate with a professional audience” is probably not exactly their perceived need.
Here’s the rewrite:
I am Marie Brotnov, your partner in effective Dutch-English communication. Lives depend on the outcome of your clinical trial or your court case, and it is of the utmost importance that you can rely on the accuracy and clarity of your supporting evidence. Calliope Translations takes your Dutch documents and delivers information you can work with. Contact me today and let’s get started.
I’m still wrestling with this whole “partner” concept, as the webinar was mostly geared towards web designers whose projects can’t easily be compared with translation work, but I’ll explore that in another post.