DATE: June 21, 2019
The 5 “T”s for Successfully Pitching in Another Language
Many of our clients come to us nervous and unsure when considering pitching for new projects in locations other than their home territory. Moving into a new market can be daunting at the best of times; when this move also entails a foreign language and culture, it can be enough to put businesses off completely. Our clients are often at a loss as to where to begin – first they need to understand the requirements; then explain how they can fulfil them in a meaningful and convincing way; and all in a language they cannot understand.
As soon as they get in touch, we are able to put their minds at ease, by explaining the ways in which our team can intersect with theirs – removing the language barrier at each stage – to ensure they can tender as confidently in a foreign language as they would in their own.
At a very basic level, it comes down to 5 main points – let’s call them the 5 “T”s – which, in our experience, give clients the best chance of securing that valuable contract.
It may seem obvious, but we have seen cases, when brought on board late in the process, where the tender request itself has not been thoroughly assessed. The only way to ensure you respond appropriately and in full to all requirements is to have a clear and complete understanding of exactly what those requirements are. Of course, this first stage is more complicated if those requirements are communicated in a language you cannot understand.
As tender requests can be lengthy and budgets for as-yet-unconfirmed projects can be slim, we find that a simple data extraction exercise, rather than full translation, can be the best fit at this point.
Linguists with the relevant expertise can analyse the request documentation in the original language, pulling out important information and requirements and translating only those into the client’s native tongue. This will allow you to have all essential details at your disposal, and to identify where any questions may need to be posed, without the time and budget required for full translation.
The people you have working on your tender application need, above all, to know what they’re talking about, and that includes the linguists. You should ensure, as we do, that any linguists working on assessment or translation of your tender, or indeed related communications, have exacting and up-to-date training and expertise in the subject area. It is essential that anything you provide as part of a tender is relevant, accurate and in the appropriate terms – anything less will undermine your position as an expert and therefore as a credible candidate for awarding of the contract.
Always to be kept at the forefront of your mind when pitching is the person you are pitching to – their requirements, their perspective, and their expectations.
Always to be kept at the forefront of your mind when pitching is the person you are pitching to – their requirements, their perspective, and their expectations. So much of this is wrapped up in where the individual or team receiving your bid is situated.
In-country linguists, who live within the same country and culture as the individual or team you are targeting, have a serious edge in helping you ensure you say the relevant things in the right way. They can evaluate your content, adjust tone for maximum impact, and review and suggest amendments to any imagery which may be inappropriate in a given culture. You need to show your prospective customer that they can trust you to keep their needs at the fore and to align yourself with their values and objectives.
Terminology and Tone
Okay, so it’s two “T”s, but very closely interlinked. We always recommend to our clients that we include a project assessment phase before commencing translation of the actual tender proposal. The main purpose of this is to establish core terminology and draw up glossaries. This ensures that consistent terms are used throughout when referring to the same concepts, allowing the reader to find a clear thread through the document, to follow your logic, and understand what exactly you have to offer. We also recommend the use of translation memory tools, which store exact phrases, giving the end product clear consistency of tone and expression. The more easily the requester can read and understand your responses, the easier it is for your expertise and USPs to shine through.
It’s all well and good producing a fantastic tender proposal to wow potential clients, but if it doesn’t get to them on time, chances are it will never even be seen! It’s a waste of impressive work, and a waste of your time, and yet it does happen. Often our clients only become aware of a request for tender with a week or so to deadline, so content needs to be pushed through quickly and efficiently, while still keeping the standard high. This is where partnership with a language services company really comes into its own. Expert project managers will put the necessary schedule and team numbers in place to meet almost any deadline, coordinate all resources, create standard guidelines, and use tools to maximise efficiency and quality for an on-time delivery. All of which gets your impressive proposal in front of the decision-maker in a timely fashion, and with minimal impact on your own workload.
All in all, bidding for contracts in other languages does not need to be a complicated process. Make sure you partner with an expert language team and they will guide you through the process phase by phase, maximising your chances of success and helping you conquer new markets and banish non-native nerves.