recently returned from a trip to Barcelona to attend
what was supposed to be The Greatest Localization Show
on Earth. I had arrived in town a few days earlier to
visit some clients and attend a meeting, which after
a two-week delayed honeymoon through Portugal and Spain
put me back in the “professional” mood.
By the time Localization World started, I had the stamina,
I had my mojo and… I had a new suit!
first chance to meet conference attendees was the Opening
Reception at Poble Espanyol. After seeing the picture
on the website and reading the description in my guidebook,
I could not help but think “TACKY!” But
I was pleasantly surprised when, after being surrounded
by the trees of Montjuïc, I saw the “synthesis
of Spanish architecture, arts and crafts, conceived
for the 1929 International Exhibition.” The place
was simply amazing and right after Donna Parish completed
her welcome speech, the glasses of champagne started
to dance on air. The organizers certainly knew how to
throw an industry party and it was time to move that
body and network!
first night was rather promising and, perhaps because
of the bubbles, perhaps because it was an event for
the exclusive purpose of networking, people were all
very friendly to me. I started to feel there was more
to it and realized I had to leave my usual shyness at
the hotel room and just go for it. It was time to play
the salesperson role and interact with as many people
as possible. Business opportunities were all up for
grabs and nothing was as exciting as the possibility
of closing a deal or discussing a potential partnership.
I arrived at the conference, I was quite impressed with
the choice of venue and could already feel that the
fine mood from the previous night was there to stay.
With my badge around my neck, I went down the stairs
to attend the opening session, “Atomization of
the Localization Industry,” by keynote speaker
Roger Camrass. I went out for a quick coffee and returned
to the same room to watch a panel that included representatives
from Adobe, AttachmateWRQ, Autodesk and Rockwell Automation.
Coincidentally enough, Rockwell’s representative
was Eva Müller, who will contribute an article
for a future edition of the Ccaps Newsletter.
I must confess that my interests were manifold: learn
more from industry veterans by attending the sessions,
network with colleagues during coffee breaks and social
events, meet with associates and clients, discover new
partners and – obviously – sell, sell, sell.
Having said that, the reaction from the people I talked
to during cigarette escapades and walks down the hall
started to make me feel good… Really good!
I had been to other events both in Brazil and abroad
that catered to other industries, but my feeling was
that it had been rather difficult to sell Ccaps’
services to potential buyers. After all, not only were
they not looking for localization services, but those
potential buyers were also selling services or goods
of their own. And suddenly, it felt like paradise: those
people were in the same industry, knew what I was talking
about and might be willing to hear what I had to offer.
It was my very own Localization World!
such conversations, I was amazed to realize that there
are clients out there — and sometimes rather major
clients — that were interested in working with
single language vendors. This meant I could maintain
the quality of our services and still be properly compensated
for our hard work. I arrived in Barcelona thinking that
Ccaps only had a chance with the usual MLVs, but a whole
new scenario opened before my eyes. Quite a few seasoned
professionals on the client side were interested in
learning about our processes, structure and history.
Perhaps because of the recent return of merger and acquisition
fever, clients are looking for alternative choices and
restructuring their purchasing strategies. Or maybe
Adam Blau, whose most interesting presentation I also
attended at Localization World, is right to say in his
that the second generation of localization has already
begun. In any case, these new perspectives all sounded
new, exciting and promising to me. One more session
and it was time to try my luck again as Mr. Sales himself.
was I feeling good!
the smoking area, I cornered another potential client.
Actually, she approached me first and was very friendly,
asking who I was, what I was doing there etc. The localization
manager of a large telecom company, she explained that
she had no need for Brazilian Portuguese at the moment.
Yet, she was interested in meeting vendors for other
languages, such as Japanese and Spanish. The rush was
so high that I ventured to offer multilanguage services
through a Ccaps associate: “Are you looking for
an MLV then?” But when she heard me say that,
she backed off and the mood changed.
had I done wrong? Until then, I didn’t know that
multilanguage vendors had become some kind of satanic
cult. Could “MLV” be the acronym for a new
contagious disease that I was unaware of? Did my attitude
sound too sales-like? Had I used the wrong tone? I couldn’t
believe this was happening! My previous attempts had
put me in such a good mood that I would not give up
easily. I then decided to try to reach her again with
the help of the salesperson of “those we do not
speak of,” namely the multilanguage vendor with
whom we had established a close relationship. Yet, she
kept running away from us and pretending she didn’t
see me approaching… Was it the breath from the
smoking? Had she not liked the color of my tie? Was
my hair too wild after I had gone out into the wind?
But this was MY Localization World and I decided I should
talk to her anyway. After all, I had the stamina, I
had my mojo and… Nah, forget it! She was cold
as ice and didn’t seem interested at all.
see how we do at lunch then...
happened to sit at the table with some of Ccaps associates
and a few potential clients from a major hardware manufacturer.
For starters, that could mean a change from the morning
failure. And perhaps fortune was about to be served
steamy and hot on a silver plate. “Is this seat
taken?” I asked as charmingly as I could, while
trying to get close to the client side. The two girls
looked at each other and mumbled something unintelligible.
That meant a yes for someone who was feeling so good
and confident and… what was I feeling again?
It had come to my understanding that our Spanish associate
was a sales expert; one of those people who knew everyone
in the industry. I decided to observe her and learn
how to network with as many people as possible, eventually
transforming sales leads into actual clients. I followed
every step of her advance, examined her posture, scrutinized
her gestures, and when I thought I was ready to enter
the small realm of sales professionals, tried some light
conversation with the girls next to me. I introduced
myself and offered one of my business cards. If only
they gave me their cards in return… I couldn’t
believe it! How could they smile, say thank you and
put my card away? I even thought about asking for theirs,
but they quickly turned and started talking to someone
else. My hopes started to disappear, and so did my appetite.
wait a minute! Don’t these people know how much
we pay for sales workshops? Are they aware that it is
already difficult enough to remember all the cultural
nuances when introducing yourself at events like these,
let alone exchanging cards while having lunch with them?
“Shall I hold the card with both hands and smile?,”
“Shall I demonstrate a huge interest or pretend
I don’t care?,” “Shall I keep my hands
on the table as the guidebook told me to do in Spain?”
I was confused, frustrated and starting to feel bad.
whole experience had been very enriching and pleasant:
The conference sessions, the social gatherings (either
official or unofficial), the possibility of exchanging
ideas and knowledge, even the “window shopping”
in the exhibition area. However, I still had a sour
taste in my mouth from the affairs I mentioned above
and could not go home without receiving a clear answer.
the last day of the conference, a group of friends,
colleagues and associates went for a drink at the hotel
bar. I thought this could be a good opportunity to better
understand what was bugging me, since there were people
from both the client and vendor sides. After two Bloody
Maries, I asked the documentation manager of a medical
device manufacturer how she felt about being approached
by potential vendors. She said that she liked to be
introduced to new vendors, as long as they were recommended
by people she had worked with or she knew well. And
what she hated most were those little taps on the back
from people she had never seen before, offering their
services out of nowhere at the end of a session or at
a restaurant table. A sales manager friend of mine supported
what she had said: “You have no idea of what clients
go through! Can you imagine being pestered by all kinds
of sales people who can sometimes be rather inconvenient
returned to Brazil and started sending e-mails to the
contacts I had made during the whole trip. Perhaps because
most people were still catching up with overloaded inboxes,
perhaps because some of them had seized the opportunity
to extend their trips, the fact is that some 70% of
my messages remained unanswered. If my message did make
it through their spam blockers (mind you, I only e-mailed
people with whom I had some contact) and they never
responded, I would say this is far from being a good
thing. In fact, that is what is really ugly!
Well, Not That Ugly…
few weeks have passed and I am feeling better now. The
good news is that not only did I enjoy the event to
the fullest, but I also managed to acquire at least
five new clients, and there are even more in the pipeline.
I also understand that potential clients are busy with
their professional and personal affairs and I learned
to respect that. Next time, I will make sure the lessons
learned from Barcelona will improve my selling skills.
Since the mojo and stamina will already be back in place,
hopefully I will have enough work to buy me a new suit