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How to approach a direct client?
Thread poster: Laurent Boudias
Laurent Boudias  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:47
English to French
+ ...
Feb 6, 2007

Marketing/Sales question

Here's the situation. An american company has its website translated in French. There's daily content added every single day. There's something to translate every day.

But I noticed several mistakes almost every day, the job is not done properly.

So I would like to approach this company and offer my services. And my question is the following:

How would you approach it? I have documented a list of mistakes, but I'm not sure it's an ethical process (basically I would tell the people who are doing the job are not good).

Another problem, though this is different, is that it's a big company, really big and I am quite sure they don't have an in-house translator (its activity has nothing to do with France, the French version is just a marketing tool, they have different versions in other languages too). So I don't know who to contact in this company. What department/group inside a big company is in charge of hiring an agency/a translator? Marketing?

Thanks
Laurent


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Monica Tuduce  Identity Verified
Luxembourg
Local time: 05:47
Member
Italian to Romanian
+ ...
Je ne te le conseillle pas Feb 6, 2007

Salut Laurent

J’écris en français parce que je me trouve plus à l'aise.
Ne fais pas ça !
Je ne pourrais pas te dire comment ça devrait fonctionner avec un client direct, moi je l’ai fait avec une agence de traductions.
Agence française, sur leur site il y avaient beaucoup d'erreurs en français. Je leur ai offert mes services. Au début je n'avais aucune intention de ce genre, mais en lisant les informations publiées sur le site, j’ai observé les erreurs. Et je me suis donc proposée, en leur disant de ne pas s’offenser et de prendre mes observations en tant que test de traductions. Je n’avais rien à perdre.
Ils ont choisi la première variante, je suppose, parce que je n’en ai reçu aucune réponse
Même si, comme moi, tu pourrais penser que c’est une façon honnête de proposer tes services et également de mettre en valeur tes qualités, il paraît qu’ils ne l’apprécient guère.

Je te conseille donc de te proposer tout simplement et de leur solliciter une entrevue ou un test, afin de prouver ton expérience et peut être de les signaler les erreurs lors de cette entrevue.
Un autre compte c’est que ce genre d’approche, du moins pour les clients directs étrangers, n’a pas eu du succès dans mon cas. Soit qu’ils jettent tout de suite les courriels de ce genre, soit qu’ils préfèrent contacter une agence juste au moment où ils ont besoin d’une traduction, soit …. les possibilités sont nombreuses.

Bonne chance.
Monica


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Laurent Boudias  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:47
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Monica! Feb 6, 2007

For the non French readers, Monica doesn't think it's a good idea to approach the company showing the mistakes right away. She didn't seem to have had any good experiences in this domain.

She suggests to just contact the company and apply for the job.

Merci encore pour tes conseils, Monica.

Any other translator with similar situation?


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xxxEdGoulart
Local time: 00:47
English to Portuguese
Thanks Feb 6, 2007

Dear Laurent Boudias,
Thanks for the translation... I was really interested in Monica's answer.

[Edited at 2007-02-06 21:03]


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:47
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Write to Marketing Feb 6, 2007

Hi Laurent,

What's wrong with offering a service a company really needs? There's nothing unethical about that.

Write to Marketing. Try to find the e-mail address of someone high-up in the marketing department. Go to the press section of the site to find it. Don't forget to mention how much you enjoy the daily information on the website. Point out 10 blunders in your e-mail and attach a document with all the other mistakes you've found, e.g. during the last month. Attach your CV. Chances are your e-mail will get passed the secretary. Don't talk about your tariffs in your first mail, managers are more interested in your QA procedures.

Most likely your e-mail will be forwarded to the translation agency responsible for the daily translations into 10 languages. If you're lucky the manager will demand that the PM contact you. Stick to your tariffs when you have to bargain.

Never be afraid of offering your services to someone who might need them. Professionals have no reason to be shy.

Good luck,
Gerard


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:47
Member
Italian to English
Please write in English Feb 6, 2007

I would be very interested in hearing your views Monica, as I am sure would many others. Please write your messages in English in this forum, for those who don't speak French! Many thanks

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Laurent Boudias  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:47
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The ethical question was about... Feb 6, 2007

... the fact that I would have to criticize a fellow translator in order to have a chance to get a contract that has already been awarded to this fellow translator/agency. I believe this is an agency, given the size of the client.

But thanks for the tips, Gerard. That's what I was planning to do, but I have a doubt about denigrating someone else. After all, pointing to mistakes and errors is saying "Look, this translator is not good, I'm better". That's the part that I have a problem with.


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:47
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
I don't see the problem Feb 7, 2007

Laurent Boudias wrote:

... the fact that I would have to criticize a fellow translator in order to have a chance to get a contract that has already been awarded to this fellow translator/agency. I believe this is an agency, given the size of the client.

But thanks for the tips, Gerard. That's what I was planning to do, but I have a doubt about denigrating someone else. After all, pointing to mistakes and errors is saying "Look, this translator is not good, I'm better". That's the part that I have a problem with.


I haven't seen the website you're talking about but I presume you're not nitpicking. Being scrutinized is the hardest part of our job. Scrutinizing colleagues isn't shameful, I can't find the right word, our most talented colleagues make their living that way. Bad translators shouldn't translate and shouldn't be published. It's as simple as that, talking among peers.

Regards,
Gerard


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 10:47
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Apply for Editor Feb 7, 2007

Laurent Boudias wrote:

... the fact that I would have to criticize a fellow translator in order to have a chance to get a contract that has already been awarded to this fellow translator/agency. I believe this is an agency, given the size of the client.

But thanks for the tips, Gerard. That's what I was planning to do, but I have a doubt about denigrating someone else. After all, pointing to mistakes and errors is saying "Look, this translator is not good, I'm better". That's the part that I have a problem with.


I agree with Gerard. No ethical issue in this case. You may offer your services as an editor.


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Monica Tuduce  Identity Verified
Luxembourg
Local time: 05:47
Member
Italian to Romanian
+ ...
Ok, I’m posting in English Feb 7, 2007

I wouldn’t advise you to do that, Laurent.
I could not say how a direct client would react; I did that with an agency. A French agency, which has a lot of mistakes on their website. At first, I had no intention of pointing those mistakes to them, but then I proposed my services and said to them about the mistakes. I asked them not to feel offended, but to take all I said as a translation test. I had nothing to lose at that moment.
Apparently, they felt offended; at least that is what I thought, because they didn’t answer to my e-mail.
You could also think, like I did, that this is an honest way to propose your services and to make them appreciate your professional assets, but it seems to me that they don't like this kind of approach.
I advise you to simply propose your services and to demand them to meet you; this meeting would be an opportunity to maybe point those mistakes to them, too.
This kind of approach, at least in case of foreign clients, was not successful to me. They may just put aside all this kind of e-mails, or they just prefer to contact an agency, when need arise.

Good luck,


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Natalia Elo  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:47
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
My 2 cents Feb 7, 2007

I think Gerard is exactly to the point.

On Monica's experience, well, s... happens, too bad for the agency. I personally always take constructive criticism with gratitude, becuase imo it is very important for our profession and it is somehow hard to imagine that a translation agency felt offended becuase of the improvement suggestions. Maybe they just didn't have time to reply your email.

Of course, Laurent, you have to be sure that you are not splitting hairs there. After all you don't have anything to lose.


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Angelica Perrini  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:47
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
A few words on my experience Feb 7, 2007

Hello everybody,

just to share my own experience with you, I too made contact with the Chief-Editor of a bilingual Magazine whose Italian articles I noticed to contain a few mistakes here and there, awkward phrases and so on.
In my e-mail to the Chief-Editor, though, I just congratulated them on the publication contents and offered my language services.

I prepared a well written cover letter and simply marketed my services as being "professional". And I also stressed this point in the Subject line, in a catchy manner.
No mention was made of the mistakes made by their translator (no agency, in this case).

Curious about the results?
First, they kindly answered something like "Thank you for your email. We have a translator at the moment but you might be interested in writing something for us?".
I was obviously flattered with their offer but I'm not a writer
So I replied to their e-mail to thank them and nicely point out what I had noticed when reading an Italian translation on their magazine. If this was not enough, I also anticipated their possible reaction and clearly said that that was just my opinion, even though it could sound as a competitor's manoeuvre.

Their kind answer followed a little later:
"At the moment we have to be loyal to [translator's name]who translates for us. Should anything change, we will let you know".

My 2 (maybe 3) cents,


Angelica


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Laurent Boudias  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:47
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Feb 8, 2007

Thank you for all your comments and experiences. I will try to reach the appropriate contact and offer my services.

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