What language service buyers want (full report)


Introduction – 

How do the buyers with the biggest budgets decide which LSPs to work with? What criteria do they factor into this decision? You don’t have to wonder any longer because Nimdzi has asked over 100 language service buyers for you.

If you are an LSP, the information contained in this report will serve as a valuable resource to make sure that you are prioritizing the areas that matter to top buyers. If you are an LSB (Language Service Buyer), you can get an idea of where your colleagues are and benchmark your own vendor selection process against what others in the industry are doing. 

Information contained in this report:

  1. TL;DR
  2. What is being measured?
  3. What individuals want
  4. What companies want
  5. Difference between companies and individuals
  6. Summary

We know you are busy! That’s why each of our reports are formatted so that information can be quickly and easily digested. For those in a hurry, we provide the TL;DR (Too long; didn’t read!) section in the beginning of each report. At the end of each report we also summarize key points with our own Insights.

For those that think the devil is in the details, we have you covered, too! In the body of the report we go into as much detail as possible about each topic discussed. Still not satisfied? Never hesitate to reach out to us directly to request additional information. We’re here to help!

No time to read the full report? Watch and listen! – 


Top 3 priorities

Quality, on-time, service

The top three priorities for both individuals and companies when making buying decisions are quality, on-time delivery, and customer service. These are the areas that buyers almost unanimously rank as either “important” or “very important.”

Competing priorities

Individuals vs their companies

Comparing the priorities of individual buyers to companies, we see some areas where the motivations of the individual are not always in sync with the motivations of the company. Individuals are more likely to prioritize brand reputation, number of languages offered, customer service, dashboarding, technology, and location or production centers. Companies are more likely to prioritize price. 


Not as important as expected

It is true that there are some very price sensitive buyers that only focus on price. However, in general, that is not the norm. Price is not in the top three priorities for either individuals or companies. Unsurprisingly, companies placed a higher value on price than the individual localization buyers.


Different motivations

When looking at the data by a number of different factors such as company, location, and gender, the only dimension that showed meaningful conclusions was gender. In general, women are more likely to rate any given factor as “important” or “very important. Women placed more importance on all factors except for dashboarding.

What is being measured?

Nimdzi has gathered responses from over 100 decision makers at language services buyers about the importance of various factors when choosing a language services provider. Each buyer was asked to rate the following criteria as either irrelevant, relevant, important, or very important. 

As we know, individual preferences can vary widely from person to person. Likewise, the view and opinions of individual decision makers within an organization can also vary from the view held by the larger organization itself. Each respondent provided information about what was important to them, personally, as well as what was important in the eyes of their company. 


Quality of translations

Quality is a tricky subject, because it can be so subjective. In this study we look at how buyers perceive the importance of translation quality.


Brand recognition and perception

The language services industry is not incredibly large. Most LSPs come with a certain reputation. How important is the LSP’s reputation to the buyers when making decisions?


Pricing of services

Of course, when deciding which vendor to work with price is a key criterion. But how important is it in relation to other criteria?


Number of languages offered

Scalability is increasingly important in the minds of buyers and clients are deciding to localize into more and more languages. A big part of this is whether a single vendor will be able to scale to meet the buyer’s needs for all languages.


Responsiveness and customer service

Customer service is a core function of an LSP and is one of the main areas where LSPs can truly differentiate.


Recommendations from colleagues

This is similar to brand reputation, but is more personal. How many of the buyer’s trusted colleagues have specifically referred a particular LSP?


Previous or existing relationship with vendor

Previous relationships can be a powerful factor when deciding who to work with. How important is it to buyers to work with LSPs that they already know and, presumably, trust?

Production centers

Location(s) of production centers

In an increasingly agile world, time-zone coverage can be very important. Where are the LSP’s production centers located around the world?

Account Management

Location of account manager

The account manager assigned to the client by the LSP makes sure that the client is getting good customer service. Buyers sometimes want to make sure that the account manager is in a location (or at least time-zone) close to them.


Number of global offices

The number of offices around the world that an LSP has speaks to the ability to scale up production, as well as better provide in-country linguistic support. Some clients may want to see a strong global presence, particularly if they are looking to outsource ongoing country-specific work other than localization.


Number of employees

This refers to the number of total employees that an LSP has. The size of the LSP is sometimes important to clients because it can show stability and potential scalability for both the LSP and their accounts.


On-time delivery

As development and production cycles get shorter, the need for speed is growing. LSPs need to demonstrate that they can not only deliver high quality service at an affordable price, but that they can do it in a time frame that will satisfy the client’s production schedule.


Language technology used

There are a growing number of TMS systems and other language technology on the market today. In addition, clients often bring other tools and technologies that they require their vendors to be proficient with.

Client portal

Dashboard for project tracking

Management by KPIs is becoming the norm. To satisfy clients’ thirst for data, many LSPs provide real-time KPI reporting and project status through cloud-based systems, either hosted themselves or through a TMS.

What do the individuals want?

As the well-known saying goes, people buy from people. Whether or not you agree with this well-known cliché among salespeople, you can’t argue that it is not useful to better understand the personal motivations behind buying decisions. We will start with a general review of the data collected and then look at some other ways to filter and analyze the data. 


Let’s start with the unfiltered data. In the below dashboard, we look at how each of the above criteria ranked for individuals when making decisions around buying language services. 

The results are ranked in order of importance, with the factors that were rated “Very important” by the most number of respondents is at the top, Most strikingly, we see that the top three factors of quality, on-time delivery, and customer service are the most widely viewed as “very important”, by a significant margin. Price comes in sixth place, when viewed as the top “very important” factor, though this moves up to five place if you consider all respondents who ranked it as “very important” or “important.”

Now we look at which of these factors had more than 50 percent of respondents ranking as “important” or “very important.” These are the areas where LSPs will want to focus their attention, as they will be the most relevant to winning new business from clients. 

Factors with over 50 percent of buyers ranking as “Very important” or “Important”

  1. Quality of translation
  2. On-time delivery
  3. Customer service
  4. Technology
  5. Number of languages offered
  6. Price
  7. Brand reputation

Factors with less than 50 percent of buyers ranking as “Very important” or “Important”

  1. Pre-existing relationship (barely under 50 percent)
  2. Referrals
  3. Client portal
  4. Location of account manager
  5. Location of production centers
  6. Number of offices
  7. Number of employees

Other filters

TO analyze for any other meaningful trends, Nimdzi has also looked at several different factors and the influence they have on buyer behavior:


Analyzing the buyer responses by their country of residence shows no meaningful results. The vast majority of buyers surveyed were located in the United States. Comparing these buyers’ responses to the responses of buyers located outside of the United States showed no difference in their preference.


Nimdzi also looked at responses sorted by the size of the country. The hypothesis was that smaller buyers (or at least those with smaller budgets) may have different priorities than larger buyers. However, an analysis of this data showed no meaningful difference. Priorities were consistent between small and large companies.


The third criteria that we looked at was the gender of the buyers. Without the data, it would be reasonable to assume that the first two criteria (country and size of company) would be more important than gender, but that would be wrong. Nimdzi found a small but statistically meaningful difference between how men and women make buying decisions.

A closer look at gender

In the below dashboard we see the differences between male and female buyers. The figures below represent each gender’s likelihood to rate a particular factor as either “very important” or “important.”

Most noticeable factors (those with more than a 10 point difference) are as follows listed in order for largest difference to smallest difference. Note that factors with a difference of less than 10 points are not listed below:

  1. Size (number of employees) – female respondents more likely to see as high priority. 
  2. Location of account manager – female respondents more likely to see as high priority. 
  3. Number of offices – female respondents more likely to see as high priority. 
  4. Number of languages offered. – female respondents more likely to see as high priority. 

In all categories except one, females were more likely to view as either “important” or “very important.” The only factor that men rated as more important than women was dashboarding and data visualization, but only by a 4 point difference. 

It is prudent to note that all respondents identified as either male or female, although additional gender options were included as options in the study. 

What do the companies want

The motivations of individual buyers can be very different, even within the same company. it is not uncommon to be dealing with multiple buying influencers within the same company and each of them have different priorities. This also means that individual motivations can also vary from the motivations of the overall company. Often times, individual buyers will have to forsake their own prioritize in order to meet the needs of the company.

Now that we are finished looking at the preferences of individual buyers, we turn our attention to what the companies look for when making buying decisions. We present this information in the same format we have already used for individual buyers. 


To more easily view the differences between individuals and companies, in the next section we look at these side by side to see the results. 

Difference between companies and individuals?

The below dashboard shows the delta between the individual data and company data. On the left we see the factors with the largest discrepancy (those over 5 points), and a full list is available on the right. 

As can be seen, the factors that are more important to individual buyers are, in order of decreasing importance:

  1. Brand/Reputation
  2. Number of languages offered
  3. Customer service
  4. Client portal/dashboarding
  5. Technology
  6. Location of production centers

Those factors that are more important to the company than to the individuals are:

  1. Price
  2. Pre-existing relationships


Getting inside the head of the buyer allows LSPs to better understand where they should focus their resources. There are two practical approaches to this: long term or short term. 

  • In the long term, strategic decisions can be made to best align service offerings to the needs of the client. 
  • In the short term, this information can be used to know which points are more likely to be important to buyers and where to focus attention when crafting proposals and closing deals. 

If you are interested in discussing any of the information in this report with the Nimdzi team, we are happy to talk to you. Remember that, as a Nidmzi Partner, you have full access to our team. Do not hesitate to reach out. You can schedule time directly on our calendar as easily as clicking a button!

16 January 2018

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