who decides for translations in a company?
Thread poster: Lucia Cantella

Lucia Cantella  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:01
English to French
+ ...
Mar 23, 2009

Hi,

I was wondering who to contact within a company for a translation. Which department, who decides for translations?
I've been trying to contact some companies directly by searching email adresses on the net, but this solution seems completely wrong. On the other way, buying email or addresses information on the net is quite expensive, and I don't want to give my money away...
Those files would give me the purchasing contact names and email (if I ask for), but does the purchasing department decide for a translation?

Thanks in advance for all your comments.

Lucia


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:01
English to Dutch
+ ...
Search local Mar 23, 2009

Hi Lucia,

I think it is a good idea to start looking for new clients, but there are a few things you need to consider, or you'll be wasting your time.

First of all, big companies usually need translations in a number of language pairs. Most use agencies for this, because they like to have one contact for all their language needs. If you want to offer your services to a company like that, you need to make really clear why working with you is worth the extra trouble.

Small companies need a different approach. You need to get in touch with the owner or someone within the sales department and get a personal appointment (could be on the phone). Otherwise your email message will just end up in the trash bin, along with all the spam messages.

My best advice would be to try locally, in your own city or region. Search the Yellow Pages and write your messages specifically for that company. Mass emails are usually not effective - you need to stand out from the crowd.

On a general note, Sales, Human Resources, or the secretary within the Executive's office would be the best contacts, I suppose.

Good luck!


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Luisa Ramos, CT  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:01
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
The head does not know what the tail is doing Mar 23, 2009

My experience in dealing with large companies is that, more ofthen than not, the head does not know what the tail is doing. Off the top of my head I can mention three global companies in which each department uses a different translation resource (I am thinking pharmaceutical and insurance, mostly). Right now, I am working on two projects for the same insurance company, except that they come from different agencies. Hey, sometimes I get confused and save my documents to the wrong agency's directory. Some of the departments leave the hiring of the translation resource to the advertising agency they deal with; been there, done that too.

My advice is to contact the head of the department where your expertise lies. If you specialize in marketing, then contact the head of the Marketing department, usually the VP; and so on.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:01
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Insider advice Mar 23, 2009

Luisa Ramos wrote:
My advice is to contact the head of the department where your expertise lies. If you specialize in marketing, then contact the head of the Marketing department, usually the VP; and so on.


Lucia,

Luisa gave you good advice, but I'd add something there: go for the doer.

Instead of asking the big boss, who might be too busy with strategy and other high-level stuff, try to contact his/her PA or secretary, and ask them who handles multilingual publications or whatever you are attempting to translate.

In three companies I worked for, several decades ago, I was in charge of all publications. Of course, I did all the translation and most of the photography work myself, it was part of the job, but my immediate boss had no idea on the art, photolith, and printing vendors I was using. Of course I had all bids I got for each job to show the auditors, but not to my bosses, no time for micro-managing. Their secretaries were fully aware that I was the guy taking care of that.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:01
English to Spanish
+ ...
Lower Level People Mar 23, 2009

Others have also alluded to this, but my experience in dealing with direct clients is that lower level people, that is the ones directly involved with the material needing translation, are the decision makers. I often deal with requests from numerous people in the same company, they just pass my contact information along to one another. Usually there is no central point, but often it can be helpful to contact and positively impress someone a bit higher up who can then pass your info on to those below. From then on you will find yourself dealing with their charges.

Luisa's advice in trying to contact managers of departments that could use your services depending on the kind of work you do is good. I would be inclined to recommend that you contact managers who are closest to the people actually involved; that is farther down rather then higher up, especially in the case of larger organizations.

Secretaries and administrative assistants in the right places can often be great contacts for work, cultivate them. Then your good work also makes them shine!


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AutoLingo  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:01
Spanish to English
Target "Seekers" Mar 23, 2009

I suggest you target "seekers" by joining translation associations, putting a small ad in one of their publications, or getting involved in an event like ATA Annual Conference. However, my best candidates have come from visiting expos and recommendations from colleagues, especially those who have used them before. I definitely agree that bigger companies want to work with agencies who may have better collaboration tools for bigger projects and for rapid throughput.

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Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:01
English to French
+ ...
In charge Mar 24, 2009

I have contacted several times small companies through their website email, in certain cases where I was certain I would be the best for a very specific product.

It never worked.

I guess you must reach the person who is in charge of translations, and that can VERY different from the official email.


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:01
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
everybody and nobody ... Mar 27, 2009

Big companies might even have a transaltion department, or a documentation department, or a fixed contract with a translation agency (or two)...

That doesn't mean they do not need additional individual translators from time to time though...

In smaller companies they might not have ever thought about contacting a translator in the first place, so you actually might need to convince them your work is better than what ever the "guy from the 3rd floor that has a french grandfather" or the "bi-lingual secretary" provides...

You need to contact decision makers, department heads or individual entrepeneurs... My guess is you only meet them at seminars, buisiness clubs and meetings...

Cold calling "Direct clients" for translation jobs is often like going for the needle in a haystack....


Ed Vreeburg
Translate.ED


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Kathryn Sanderson  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:01
French to English
Question about expos Apr 8, 2009

chiriz wrote:
... my best candidates have come from visiting expos and recommendations from colleagues, especially those who have used them before.


What kind of expos? Industry expos in your target area, or translation expos?

Thanks,

Gargamelle


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 07:01
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Erm, the secretary? Apr 8, 2009

Lucia Cantella wrote:
I was wondering who to contact within a company for a translation. Which department, who decides for translations?


All departments are potential clients of yours. I mean, unless the company is in the business of publishing stuff. In a normal business, all departments need translations. That is not to say all deparments will buy translations, but the point is that you can't pin it down to just one department.

I would assume that the person who is most likely to know that he or his supervisor needs a translation, would be the secretary or personal assistant or receptionist or such a type of person, depending on the make-up of the company. I assume the secretary's boss will be too busy to know that he needs a translation, or if even he does, then he'll generally ask his secretary to arrange it.

I'm not sure how you'd find out what the name of the secretary is, though. If you address your mail to the department, the secretary may throw it away because it is her job to ensure that only very relevant mail goes through to her boss. If you address it to the boss, the secretary may not realise that she's your actual target.


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AutoLingo  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:01
Spanish to English
Visiting Expos Jun 13, 2009

Kathryn Sanderson wrote:

What kind of expos? Industry expos in your target area, or translation expos?

Thanks,

Gargamelle


I actually meant translation expos and related ones such as Gilbane Boston, which was mainly about content management, but had several companies involved in providing translations. However, for the last couple of years, there has been a language service provider that had a booth at an SAE expo, surrounded by automotive OEM and component booths. Since we know how much those booths cost, it was impressive that they would invest to reach out to us in such a targeted expo.


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 01:01
Member (2008)
French to English
Go as high as you can Jul 14, 2009

Henry Hinds wrote:

Luisa's advice in trying to contact managers of departments that could use your services depending on the kind of work you do is good.


As a general rule, it might be beneficial to get to the real decision-maker through the highest person in the company you can reach. Even if the VP or the VP's secretary isn't the real, lower-level decision maker, you're at a much better advantage if you can work your way down the ladder to the real decision-maker while saying "I was referred to you by the VP". Someone who comes in cold to the decision-maker is likely to get put off, while someone who comes to the same person having been referred by the VP will get better attention.


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Rod Walters  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 14:01
Japanese to English
Offer something too Jul 15, 2009

The first person that you contact may not be very motivated to help you find the person you need to talk to. So it sometimes helps to say that you've identified some complete rubbish on the company website and you've rewritten it out of the goodness of your heart, and if only you could get hold of the person responsible, the shameful drivel could be expunged from the publication in question...

I've tried that a few times, and I often get a grateful call from the young, harried, powerless 'office lady' in charge who says "Yes, everything on our English web is crap, can you really help me with it?"


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