Negotiating: A Short Case Study

Negotiating is one of the skills that are crucial for any entrepreneur, especially in the languages industry, where we frequently get asked for discounts and yes, free translations. In general, unless you can expect an immediate promise, in writing, of a project following your free translation, they are not a good idea. You'd be voluntarily devaluing your product. We do, however, think that giving advice, along the lines of attorneys prodiving free first consultations (but where they do NOT give you a sample contract) is advisable. We routinely provide free over-the-phone assessment of clients' translation and multicultural marketing strategies.

We wanted to share this brief case study. A few days ago, a potential client called us with what sounded like an interesting long-term collaboration on multilingual websites. The client, to remain anonymous, asked us to translate a few lines for free, but that he would show his gratitude by "sending a little something via PayPal." The first thing we need to remind ourselves is that this is not personal -- it's just business. We quickly responded that we do not provide free services on the promise of future projects, which might or might not happen. The potential client mentioned that it was "only a few lines," to which we said that this was about the principle about not providing free work. We then quickly thought about what the customer wanted: he wanted to verify that we have website localization and e-commerce experience, which is certainly a very fair request. We offered him a following:
  1. Customized links in the language combinations that he was looking for to live websites that we've translated and localized
  2. References from clients who have used our services for website translations
We felt that this was a good compromise and that it would fulfill both purposes, which are:
  1. Giving the customer what he wants: a verification of our skills
  2. Giving us what we want: to not give away free work, but to make our customer happy
We are happy to report that our customer seemed satisfied with this scenario and we hope to collaborate with him in the near future.


Anonymous said...

I like your professional resolution of this issue. And, it goes along with the points made in that hilarious video in your previous post...

Judy Jenner and Dagmar Jenner on October 5, 2009 at 10:43 AM said...

@Eve: thank you! We are always thinking of ways to resolve these difficult issues.

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