Planning a Strong 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged many LSPs’ ability to grow. In a January 2021 survey of 113 language services providers that are ranked in our lists, we found that 44% of them experienced a setback in 2020. How does that number compare to other years? Past data shows that number is normally more along the 15% to 20% range.
But that’s not to say the overall market performed that poorly. On average, despite the losses of many, we calculated a 4% growth from 2019 to 2020 for this group of providers, which has traditionally outpaced the industry as a whole. And they are overall optimistic about 2021, as their sales goal amounts to an average planned increase of 19% over their 2020 revenue. Their mission is clearly to get back on track.
The big question is how LSPs are going to do that. Our survey gave us a closer look at their approach:
- Marketing is undergoing a major transformation. One-third of respondents (32%) are planning on reducing their investment in offline marketing channels, such as tradeshows, networking events, and printed mailers. Instead, 84% intend to increase their investment in digital marketing with strategies relying among others on a strong website, email campaigns, and search engine optimization.
- Sales teams are becoming larger. Fully 57% of respondents intend to increase their sales team’s size in 2021. However, for these new recruits to be successful, LSPs must have a strong infrastructure to support them.
- Expansion is in the plans. An impressive 60% of respondents are planning to pursue new target verticals and geographies in 2021. That’s because they struggle to reach desired growth levels with their existing target markets or because they are starting to formalize their approach to segmentation. Targeted digital marketing is much more effective than generic messaging. In addition, 46% listed expanded and/or new offerings as a big opportunity for their company.
To assist LSPs with these significant shifts and enable more providers to resume successful growth, CSA Research developed an add-on series to its popular Sales Cookbook. We designed it specifically to help LSPs’ executives and growth managers make the leap to remote and sell proactively in 2D venues such as video meetings. It’s called the “Digital Growth Cookbook” and will be published in the coming weeks. Virtual selling requires a re-think and shift in mindset, strategy, tactics, and skills.
We developed the “Digital Growth Cookbook” series to cover the spectrum of growth management needs:
- Module 1: Digital Growth Cookbook. The first module provides a context for what has changed along with the rationale for why LSPs must act now. It also summarizes the shift in mindset needed to capitalize on digital marketing and virtual sales.
- Module 2: Digital Marketing and Virtual Sales Strategy. This module helps LSPs rethink their value proposition in the context of the pandemic, revisit their target market segments and personas, evaluate the opportunity to repackage offerings based on their new segmentation, and update their growth plan.
- Module 3: Techniques for Digital Marketing. We help LSPs use a digital-first approach when promoting their brand. We dive into how to beef up their content strategy and adjust the content focus and writing style. We provide guidance to gauge whether to make essential website adjustments. Finally, we explore how to leverage SEO, SEM, and social media.
- Module 4: Techniques for Virtual Selling. Virtual selling requires re-evaluating sales playbooks and embracing new communication mediums, whether social selling tools or video-based solutions. This module covers both selling to new prospects and managing existing accounts.
- Module 5: Management of Virtual Sales Teams. For all the initiatives in the previous modules to work, LSPs need the right leadership style, sales culture, organizational setup of the sales team, and technology to increase efficiencies. We provide concrete advice on managing a sales team, which includes motivation, training and coaching, and performance management – all in the context of the pandemic and virtual selling.
Growth in difficult times may seem daunting for many smaller and mid-sized LSPs that still lack a strong framework for repeatable sales. Yet social distancing and travel limitations bring an unexpected opportunity for smaller LSPs: They can now better compete on an even footing with larger counterparts that have greater budgets to sponsor conferences and meet with faraway prospects. A sound strategy, basic web conferencing tools, good content, and the willingness to work in the clients’ time zones open new opportunities for smaller LSPs regardless of their location.
As Chef Gusteau in Disney’s Ratatouille movie famously stated: “Anyone can cook.” With our cookbook series, CSA Research is making sure “Anyone can grow.”
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