Poll: What do you do about clients who have not contacted you in a while?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 09:06
SITE STAFF
Dec 20, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What do you do about clients who have not contacted you in a while?".

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Edith van der Have-Raats  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:06
Member (2016)
English to Dutch
+ ...
I find it rather shocking that ... Dec 20, 2016

... apparently approx. 85% of the respondents in this poll do not follow up with existing clients, while this is (by far) the easiest method to get new assignments when you need them.

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
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Not so shocking Dec 20, 2016

Edith van der Have-Raats wrote:

... apparently approx. 85% of the respondents in this poll do not follow up with existing clients, while this is (by far) the easiest method to get new assignments when you need them.


In my world, if they haven't been in touch, it's because they haven't needed anything translating, so ringing them up is a waste of time.

And anyway, I'll be too busy working on other things to worry about it.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 18:06
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Probably the same here Dec 20, 2016

I don't have time to do much. If a regular client disappears for no apparent reason, I may try to make discreet enquiries. As a matter of routine I send the regulars an electronic Christmas card or a mail with dates when I will be away on holiday and back, depending on the time of year. Most reply to those.

Often, clients do not have a lot of work in my language pairs and/or the subject I work in, and I know they are going to be one-off clients from the start. There is no point in chasing them up, but some do come again when they have anything relevant - even if it is a couple of years later!


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 17:06
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Nothing Dec 20, 2016

I'm lucky enough to have a handful of very “regular” and loyal clients who are responsible for about 60% of my business month to month. The rest comes from “irregulars”, some are just one-offs, and others have jobs once a year or every trimester. I never bother them (they know where I am if they need me) unless I have something important to say like when I moved last year from Brussels to Lisbon or when I changed my email address…

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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 18:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
Send them a "Season's Greetings" card Dec 20, 2016

A great excuse to get back in touch, jog the PMs' memories etc.

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:06
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not too much Dec 20, 2016

To begin with, I have about as much work as I can handle. Last year I was overbooked and it really stressed me out. This year not so much. After not hearing from three of my clients last year, I learned that two of them had retired and the other one had taken another job.

I do find that if I turn down a job because I'm overbooked, sometimes my name goes to the bottom of the list. In such cases, I may contact the client to let them know that my work flow is more manageable now.


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 02:06
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Seasons greetings Dec 20, 2016

I send them this since this is the general practice over here.
And, sometimes it has jogged their memory.

Sales is sometimes like dropping a small seed in a big pond and seeing where the wind and current take it and let it plant its roots.


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Hege Jakobsen Lepri  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:06
Member (2002)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Spot on! Dec 20, 2016

Chris S wrote:

Edith van der Have-Raats wrote:

... apparently approx. 85% of the respondents in this poll do not follow up with existing clients, while this is (by far) the easiest method to get new assignments when you need them.


In my world, if they haven't been in touch, it's because they haven't needed anything translating, so ringing them up is a waste of time.

And anyway, I'll be too busy working on other things to worry about it.


And I'm trying to stay away from embarrassing moments when they sit you down and say.... "honey, it's not you, it's me."


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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:06
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
In my world as well Dec 20, 2016

Chris S wrote:

In my world, if they haven't been in touch, it's because they haven't needed anything translating, so ringing them up is a waste of time.


We don't work with telemarketing and job "capturing". It doesn't work that way. I doubt anybody has ever got a job that way. Forcing a client to make excuses is not nice at all.

I'll send them an X-mas+New Year card, so they remember me.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:06
English to Spanish
+ ...
Most small clients are like that Dec 20, 2016

Christine Andersen wrote:

I don't have time to do much. If a regular client disappears for no apparent reason, I may try to make discreet enquiries. As a matter of routine I send the regulars an electronic Christmas card or a mail with dates when I will be away on holiday and back, depending on the time of year. Most reply to those.

Often, clients do not have a lot of work in my language pairs and/or the subject I work in, and I know they are going to be one-off clients from the start. There is no point in chasing them up, but some do come again when they have anything relevant - even if it is a couple of years later!


I had a regular client in the first few years of the new century, then work dried up. I would see the owner at translation conferences, so we would talk business; turns out that my language pair wasn't much required. Years later (2014-early 2015), this client came up with a very large translation job that kept me busy for 3 months. After that, work from this client dried up. Now she moved her company to Germany.

I may send a discreet inquiry, like Christine says, along with new information (a new mobile number, the required updated CV, etc.), and nothing else. If you hear some translation “gurus” and “marketing specialists” here in America, sounds like peppering old clients with emails, phone calls, etc. on a regular basis is the way to secure more business. It is not, and doing that is pretty inconsiderate and mercantilistic.


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Francisco ABREU  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:06
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...


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From time to time... Dec 20, 2016

I contact old clients I have lost touch with. It's not uncommon they had simply lost my contact details, or there was a change in the company's management and staff. In several cases the relationship was renewed and new jobs start flowing. But it's always a single, non-intrusive contact. l am completely against "selling" anything, even (and specially) my services.

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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Communication Dec 20, 2016

I think that it's very people who do the biz and it's very relationships (including commitment and trust) what makes the biz.
So I prefer to stay in touch and occasionally remind them about me, but in an unobtrusive way.
For holiday greetings and significant dates in their lives I prefer sms/email, or phone/IM them if we are pals or they are not very busy.

Frankly speaking, it doesn't help much exactly for translation field, yet we often share different activities and get new acquaintances, and they still are my people and spreading good words about me too. Therefore, considering time/costs, it's quite efficient and natural way to keep in touch and in biz.

Our life doesn't revolve around language translations only, then why disregard (hard-earned) contacts so easily? There's no "unimportant" people for it's very you who forgot and let them forget you could do a win-win, and it's you who didn't care to say another "Hello!" to a new partner or friend.
Working with papers still assumes working with people, why so Hikikomori?
In my view, to be in touch does imply to be in biz.

Gosh, from different people I leant so much useful and enjoyable! (even if it's not directly related to translation)


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 14:06
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
It depends, but I usually let them go without contacting them. Dec 20, 2016

Unless the client (agency) was my bread-and-butter up until the disappearance, or things are unbearably slow, I just let nature take its course. Spanish-English is a high-traffic language combination, and there are so many agencies out there, that if one lets me go, or I let it go, another one will pop up soon.

Turnover is par for the course in the translation industry, and though this can be bad, it can also be good because new opportunities come up, it is easier to raise your rates for first timers and you can also make more demands and take advantage of leverage. After all, once you've accepted an agency's terms and conditions, unless you make it known what you will and won't do in your business relationship, you're basically stuck with the initial agreement.


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Khanda
Poland
Local time: 18:06
Polish to English
+ ...
Usually they come back after a hiatus, and I'm not concerned Dec 20, 2016

Once, after a very weird interpreting assignment, I had an inkling that a returning indirect client had decided to ban me for political reasons. As this uncertainty nagged me, and there were no assignments from them for quite a long time, I made a discreet inquiry at the agency which used to hire me for those assigments and learnt that it is not the case. After several months, the client returned with more work and never left.

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