The translation and localisation industry is growing rapidly.

From a $40 billion-dollar industry in 2016, it is estimated that the industry will be worth $45 billion dollars by 2020.

There is good reason to dance.

With the increasing market demand for translation and localisation services, the need for effective translation and localisation sales staff is growing.

What happens however, when the industry has exhausted available translation and localisation sales talent ?

They look to the next best thing – promising staff who they believe can build their understanding of the industry and step into important sales roles.

What Skills Will Help You Sell Translation, Localisation & Language Services?

Employers within the industry such as LSPs and agencies are looking for very specific skills.

Sales skills that work well in one industry do not necessarily translate well into this industry.

Couple that with a particular mindset and outlook and it quickly becomes apparent that a move into one of these sought-after roles is not necessarily straight forward.

So, let’s look at what recruiters within the translation and localisation field look for and what you need to be aware of if planning a move into the industry:

International Outlook

First and foremost is international outlook. Unfortunately, not everyone has this characteristic and it is easily discernible as to whether or not this is the case.

Those with an international outlook are fundamentally outwards looking. They have an essential appreciation of the need for businesses to communicate across linguistic barriers and they view opportunities in bringing the world together through language as something inspiring.

The sense that you gage from someone with this outlook is that of excitement and enthusiasm. They simply love the idea that they could be creating some sense of unity through supporting the process of linguistic and cultural understanding.

It’s not something that can be trained, so if you don’t have it, don’t apply. It lays the foundations and creates the drive of anyone in a sales position within this industry.


When working in the translation and localisation industry, it is critical that sales staff can work successfully across a multicultural target client base and navigate diverse audiences and needs.

As such, recruiters typically assess the extent to which the applicant can see the world through the eyes of international clients and adapt their sales behaviour accordingly.

Those who approach the interview process with a ‘my way is the only way’ type attitude will not make the transition into a sales role within the industry. This attitude is one of the most damaging in any international business role.

Although it’s difficult to assess, questioning and scenario discussions can present the interviewer with a fairly robust understanding as to where the applicant sits within this respect.

Relationship Building

Another critical skill is that of relationship building. Although work or projects might be prioritised above that of the relationship with western clients, clients from other cultures may well place greater emphasis on the relationship and degree of trust prior to making the decision to proceed.

Where trust lacks, or where there is no relationship, it may well be the case that potential clients decide to take their business elsewhere. It is essential therefore, that the applicant in this case is deemed capable of understanding the degree to which a potential client may need to build a relationship prior to proceeding to work based topics and then manage events from there.

Individuals who have a tendency to get ‘straight down to business’ may not be effective in selling to non-Western audiences and, depending on the focus to which they are being recruited, may not be the right person for the job.

Listening Skills

Within the translation industry, it is common for sales staff to spend a significant portion of their time discussing potential projects with individuals who do not speak English as a first language.

New members of staff may find managing calls with an individual who struggles with English fluency daunting. It is essential therefore that potential recruits demonstrate effective listening skills as these are essential to navigating challenging calls.

Sales staff need to be adept at listening, reframing questions and breaking their own language down into segments which can be understood by their non-English counterpart.

Individuals who freeze in such situations, unable to take control of the call or, who lack patience are unlikely to perform well in the position.

Language Skills

Language skills are a fantastic attribute for any potential recruit within the translation and localisation industry.

Linguists have a natural understanding of language and the translation process and they add incredible value when managing conversations with potential clients who may struggle with the English language.

As an example, a team based in the South West of England, has staff who cover most Eastern European languages coupled with German, French and Italian. The team are rarely stuck when it came to multilingual conversations and they are able to manage multilingual email conversations.

This has added considerable credibility to the translation and localisation services offered by the company while also helping to convert and retain business that would otherwise have been lost by English only sales staff.

Language skills, without doubt, carry potential recruits a long way and from a personal perspective, those with more than one language were nearly always shortlisted for roles and interviewed.

Is Sales for you?

So, if you are looking to move into the translation and localisation industry then ask yourself the degree to which you possess the above traits and the degree to which you have demonstrated them in previous roles.

If you are applying for an industry sales role, then spend time thinking about your past experiences of working with international clients or interacting with those of another language. How did you manage the situation? What did you do that helped progress, convert or close the situation?

If you have the skills and are outward thinking then you are likely to be a valuable addition to the continued growth of our wonderful industry.

Quick question….can you name a company beginning with A and ending with S that provide amazing courses on sales for people in the translation & localisation industry? 😉