Selling the result

Here’s a basic but critical mistake that lots of freelancers make when marketing to direct clients. When the client asks, for example, “Why should we hire you?,” the freelancer’s answer promotes a) their life story, or b) their process. Don’t do this (we’ll talk about why). Instead, sell the result of your services, so that the client clearly sees what’s in it for them.

Let’s take a closer look. Back to the question from our prospective client. “We’re looking at a few different translators. Maybe we don’t even need this translated. Why should we hire you?” Here’s how many freelance translators would respond:

“Because I’ve been a translator for over 10 years and I specialize in your industry. I have a Master’s in Translation and I’m certified.”


“Because I translate over 3,000 words a day and I have all the latest software. I use the market leader translation memory tools. I’ve been building up my glossaries for the last 10 years, and I use many specialized dictionaries as well.”

What’s wrong with these kinds of pitches? Well, a few things. For example, many direct clients may not know (or, for that matter, care) what translation memory software is. But the root of the problem is that these pitches fail to show the client what’s in it for them. The client might extrapolate those advantages. Using a certified translator with 10 years’ experience should mean that the person is competent. The fact that the translator’s software is up to date is impressive. But that’s counting on a client to make connections that they shouldn’t have to make. What if our translator answered the client’s question like this:

“Why work with me? Because I help you market with confidence in Latin America.”

“Because I help you feel confident when you walk into a meeting with foreign investors.”

“Because I keep your social media presence engaging and consistent across languages.”

“Because content marketing is the new advertising, and I help you do that effectively in English.”

“Because I help Spanish speakers find you instead of your competition.”

These are exaggerated examples. But the point is: sell the result. Show the client what’s in it for them, and leave your life story and the process for later in the conversation, if the client wants to hear about them.

Here’s a humorous example from another sector. A friend of mine who’s a therapist put it this way. Not many people wake up in the morning thinking, “You know what would make today great? A relationship counseling session.” But if you look at the results end of that thought, *many* people wake up in the morning, thinking, “I wish I could talk to my spouse about money without arguing. I wish we didn’t have the same disagreements over and over again. I wish we had more time to do fun things together instead of talking about the appliances and the kids’ sports schedules.” So, instead of pitching “Don’t you want to come in and pay me to listen to your relationship problems,” or “I have a Master’s degree in Counseling, come see me,” the therapist could pitch, “Have you ever wished you could talk to your spouse about money without arguing? Have you ever wished you could resolve those recurring arguments and get back to having fun together, like when you first met?” See how those two pitches, for the same service, are radically different?

So, try it. Even if one of the sample pitches I wrote feels a little salesy to you, try selling the result. “Why hire me? Because dealing with translation isn’t your job, and it can feel really stressful and confusing when you don’t know much about it. So that’s my job: doing a great translation, on time, so that you can focus on what you do best.”

Readers, over to you: any thoughts on this approach?

14 Responses to “Selling the result”
  1. Sjoe! January 12, 2017
    • Corinne McKay January 13, 2017
  2. Christian Nielsen-Palacios January 12, 2017
    • Corinne McKay January 13, 2017
  3. Eugenia Tietz-Sokolskaya January 12, 2017
    • Corinne McKay January 13, 2017
  4. EP January 14, 2017
    • Corinne McKay January 16, 2017
  5. Jongwon Im January 15, 2017
    • Corinne McKay January 16, 2017
  6. Natalie Soper January 16, 2017
    • Corinne McKay January 17, 2017
  7. Laura Schillings January 18, 2017
  8. Istvan January 30, 2017

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