Chinese Translator; Friend or Foe?
Chinese Translator; Friend or Foe?
A Western sales manager is in an important sales meeting, pitching his product to an interesting potential client. He just entered the crucial part of his sales pitch for a 1-million-euro deal and nailed it! Enthusiastically he turns towards his Chinese translator. In his turn, the translator looks up from his phone and summarizes the sales managers pitch of ten sentences into five short Chinese words. With a seemingly uninspired look, he returns his attention back towards his mobile device.
Unfortunately, such a frustrating scenario is not uncommon and it must have made many people believe that this Chinese translator is to blame for failures in negotiations. However, is it truly the fault of the Chinese translator? Is it the relationship between the sales manager and the translator that is to blame? Or is it the sales manager who is at fault for not preparing properly?
How to select the right Chinese translator?
As with any type of job, there are both experienced and qualified translators as there are unexperienced and unqualified translators. Therefore, the first step towards making sure the translator will benefit the goals of your company, is by selecting a qualified Chinese translator. A translator who does more than just translating Chinese into English. At 1421 we occasionally refer to these highly qualified translators as interpreters. To interpret is to explain the meaning of information or actions. To translate is to express words and/or text in another language. An interpreter is there to convey what originally was intended to be said, not just to literally copy words in another language. He or she educates the client in cultural differences and guides the client towards successful business meetings.
Experience is key
When selecting a Chinese translator, one should not just consider their ability to interpret what is meant and send the message in the correct manner. Preferably the translator should have experience in the specific industry. Especially, when the negotiations are about complicated topics. Having an experienced interpreter will minimize the amount of misunderstandings. Furthermore, it will positively influence the time it will take to get through negotiations.
At 1421 we ask our translators to study a certain industry before going into the negotiations. A good example is our expert, Vanessa, who has studied the wind energy market in order to fully assist our client in that industry. This is often based on the market research we or the client have already done before deciding where the most success in China can be reached. Also we want our translators to know the service or product of our client in detail. This goes beyond knowing the terminology and even into the unique selling points or how the product works. Having such a well-trained interpreter with you is almost as having a local Chinese sales second-in-command!
Do not try to skimp out on translators
A mistake many Western businessmen and women make, is trying to reduce the costs of negotiations when an opportunity for this arises. For example, many businessmen will refrain from using a translator when the Chinese counterpart is, or is believed to be, fluent in English. Another example of cutting costs on translation is when the counterpart arranges a translator themselves. It can be very attractive to save costs, by disregarding the need for an interpreter. However, this means information which is not originally meant for you will never be heard. Bringing a dedicated interpreter means someone can tell you about mistakes made by the counterpart. All kinds of crucial information can be missed. It can be a whisper about their budget, an angered expression about something the sales manager said or a lingering document showing their plans.
Furthermore, it is important to build a relationship with the dedicated interpreter. When willing to go the extra mile, an interpreter will in return be more inclined to stay sharp and to focus on the negotiations. Taking good care of that specific person might be the most important part of booking successful results in China.
When such a Chinese translator is found, then the sales manager will receive crucial information during negotiations. Relevant information about the counterpart, about the process and about the deal. Perhaps during certain parts of the negotiations, the sales manager might even notice the translator explaining the points with the inspiration and flair as was intended. The goal of the sales manager became the goal of the translator and the result is much better.
To assist our clients in the best possible way, 1421 Consulting Group works with various inspired local Chinese interpreters. Looking for assistance in negotiating with future counterparts? Contact us!
Michael got acquainted with China when his sister was adopted in 1996. His first trip to China was in 2008, visiting the Olympics and his parents, who live in Beijing. In 2011 Michael joined the team of 1421 Consulting Group, as Business Development Manager Europe. He has helped to establish 1421 Consulting Group in the international market as a respected consultancy assisting western companies doing business with China. Since October he became the group CEO.
What happened in the year 1421?
From 1421 to 1423, during the Ming Dynasty of China under Emperor Zhu Di (朱棣) the fleets of Admiral Zheng He (鄭和), commanded by the Chinese captains, discovered Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Antarctica, the Northeast Passage; and circumnavigated Greenland.
Due to this endeavour we can conclude that “1421 is the year that the Chinese discover the world”.