It makes perfect business sense to upsell. Not necessarily because you’re on a quest to squeeze as many nickels out of your client as possible (although there’s nothing wrong with trying to sell more), but because your client may genuinely need or want a product or service that she may not know you offer, or she may not be aware of the upside benefits. In my industry, for example, the client that comes to us with brochure text to be translated into five languages doesn’t realize that we can also handle the design work to turn their English piece into an exact replica in those other languages. So we let them know, and in many instances they hire us to do the extra work. If the price is right, it saves them the time and trouble of going to a different provider.

On a macro level, the 43-billion-dollar language services industry is driven by two things: regulatory compliance and the rise of globalization. There are countries that require product safety information to be available in the local language; this affects manufacturers and exporters that do business on a global scale. In addition, the rise of e-commerce has blurred borders and made it possible for companies to do business anywhere in the world. This makes globalization, internationalization, localization and translation an absolute necessity, and multimillion-dollar companies like car manufacturers, software giants, and global consumer brands have entire budgets and infrastructures to handle the task of converting product- or service-related information into assets that are fit for global consumption.  

In other words, on the global stage language services are a necessity –or dare I say, a necessary evil. Down here in the micro-world it’s not much different, with the exception that regular folks don’t have ready budgets for translation. And the sad fact is that people don’t want to pay for translation unless somebody makes them do it. This “somebody” can be a regulatory entity, a loan underwriter, or the demands of living in a multicultural metropolis like Miami. One of our clients, an international bank with a local foreign agency, must translate a large number of documents on a regular basis to comply with state and federal regulations. Another client is a multinational e-learning company that does business in several countries. Many individuals that come to us for translation of immigration-related documents do so because they are asked by their lawyers or by the government agency to have it done professionally. When individuals or companies opt not to pay for translation, they resort to doing what they shouldn’t do: they ask non-qualified bilingual speakers to translate, or they do it themselves, or they use Google Translate. 

And precisely because there’s a mandatory aspect to translation, and therefore a need to pay for it, most clients and customers are grateful when the translation provider actively looks for ways to save them money. At TransForma, we hear regularly from mortgage brokers that work with foreign national clients. These clients, unlike multinationals or government entities, don’t have deep pockets. So we make every effort to provide the best price possible without sacrificing quality or accuracy One of the recent files we received from a mortgage lender contained nearly 100 pages of information. After reviewing the package, we determined that the data that was relevant to the transaction amounted to 12 pages of information, as opposed to 100 translated pages, and we said as much to our client. The price of the summarized translation was a fraction of what it would have cost to translate the whole thing.

The key is to think about what’s in your client’s best interest. If downselling is more beneficial, downsell. If upselling is in their best interest, upsell. If your customers know that you’re looking out for them, you both win.

Carmen Hiers is founder and managing partner of TransForma Translation Services. Get a free quote on your translation project today at or call 305-722-3827.