Thinking about expanding your business to Germany? Maybe Spain? There’s only one problem - you don’t speak German or Spanish. There are untapped markets you’ll never access if you don’t learn how to communicate with people in other countries.
As the world becomes more globalized and industries begin to cross borders, the need for clear and effective communication grows. Language barriers prevent many companies from growing as fast as they could. Fortunately there are ways to overcome language barriers!
Using Translation Websites
First and foremost make sure your website is available in multiple languages. Not only does this provide an easy experience for non-English speaking clients, but it also shows that your company is making an effort to reach the rest of the world.
There are several website translator programs available that have the ability to translate your website into dozens of other languages. Also, it’s a good idea to keep the language options near the top of the page so potential clients can see it right when they visit your page. With your website available in multiple languages, you’re bound to see an increase in clientele.
Conversing via email is actually a pretty easy way to overcome language barriers. There are a few great email translation programs with the ability to translate your email text into whatever language you may be trying to send it in. Some email providers even allow you to translate within the email program, such as Gmail and Microsoft outlook.
When you’re trying to overcome language barriers with clients who may not speak English fluently, it is very important to speak slowly and clearly. Even though it may not seem like it, when we speak in our native language we speak very quickly and mumble over words. When conversing with other native speakers this usually isn't problematic; however, when speaking to a non-native speaker they could have trouble understanding the words we are saying. It’s very important to take your time with what you are saying and slow down the pace a bit.
If you want to overcome language barriers, it is also a good idea to avoid using slang or idioms. These phrases that may seem common to fellow native speakers could be confusing to clients who are not familiar with the English language or culture. Think how strange the phrase “hit the nail on the head” probably sounds to someone who does not speak English fluently. They might translate this phrase directly and think that you are quite literally hitting a nail on the head. Best to keep things simple and avoid these phrases.
In general, try to use simpler words or phrases when communicating with people who do not fluently speak your native language. This makes it much easier for people to understand you, and in the end it makes things go much faster.
Visuals can help a lot when trying to overcome language barriers, and can communicate an idea well. A simple set of graphs or pictures can clarify a lot of questions, or help the clients understand the idea you’re trying to convey.
If you plan on meeting with the client in their country there are a few ways you can make the entire experience a lot easier. Hiring an interpreter is a necessity if your clients do not know any English at all, and neither you nor a fellow employee speaks the language. It is important to utilize your employees who can speak multiple languages. These employees will help you overcome language barriers and assist in translating conversations with clients. Developing a multicultural workforce will save time and money over hiring interpreters. In addition, you can trust your employees to always have the company's best interest in mind and know they will be translating appropriately.
Useful Tools While Traveling
Taking the time to learn a few words in the client’s language can make a great impression, and shows that you are making an effort to communicate with the client. Duolingo is an excellent app to use to practice another language. Even taking just five minutes a day, the week before you leave, could help you learn the basics. It could also be a good idea to learn some of the cultural customs or things that might be considered disrespectful in their country. You wouldn’t want to accidentally offend your client and lose the sale!
The Google translate app is also a valuable tool to use when trying to overcome language barriers. The app allows you to translate in various medias, so no matter which communication method you want to use, Google translate can help you. It’s as simple as typing in the text, or saying the words directly into your phone's microphone. One really cool feature the app provides is the ability to take a picture of the text, and then directly translate from the picture you took. Overall the app is really great, and very convenient if you are out in the field and only have access to your phone.
Sometimes it can be hard to ask for directions, especially while in another country. You’re not sure who to ask or how to even translate what you are trying to say. Finding a good map optimization system allows you to easily navigate around, while also being as efficient as possible.
Badger Maps is a great route optimization system, especially for people in sales who may be meeting with multiple clients in one day. The app allows you to enter in your points of interest for the day and then optimizes the quickest way to navigate your route. The app helps you overcome language barriers by using Google maps, so you won't have to (unsuccessfully) try to ask for directions in a foreign language.
If you have the means, technology has become so advanced that we are now able to directly speak with one another and translate in real time. The Pilot is an earpiece that directly translates the other person’s speech and then feeds the interpreted message into your ear. The product is truly amazing and is worth looking into if you are constantly communicating with people in a language you do not speak.
With these tips you will be able to overcome language barriers with ease. So what are you waiting for? You have future clients in Germany and Spain waiting to meet you.