New research by Aston University has found definitive evidence that UK SMEs who embrace language capabilities are more likely to succeed when exporting.
In our 40 years experience of helping organisations to go global, we’ve always believed that communicating in the language of your buyers helps you to sell. But now, thanks to the first study of its kind, of which we are immensely proud to have been a part, that fact has been confirmed.
Not only that but Ankita Tibrewal, PhD researcher at Aston University, who Comtec have been assisting for the last three years, has also managed to quantify how much difference language skills can make. According to the research, businesses with language capabilities who export are 30% more successful than those without.
In her quest to examine how investing in language capability (in-house or via use of a language services provider) can increase global competitive advantage for the UK SME sector, Ankita looked at 415 companies across a wide range of sectors.
You can read the full report here. Some of the headline findings include:
- Through their knowledge of language, companies can access wider networks and demonstrate greater competitive advantage.
- Language capability enables companies to build invaluable knowledge and understanding of their target sector, driving better access to markets.
- Future focused companies who are more willing to invest in the development of their workforce, are in turn more likely to invest in language skills.
The results of the research indicate that SMEs can significantly increase their export sales, growth and profits by:
- Hiring people with language skills and high cultural intelligence.
- Providing language training to existing staff.
- Investing in professional translation services using sophisticated language technology.
Not only did Comtec assist with the research but one of our clients, b2b.store, also took part in the research, submitting a case study discussing their experiences of working in different languages.
Rob Mannion, founder of b2b.store, appears on this podcast with PhD research supervisor Dr Geoff Parkes. Rob and b2b.store are active in helping many of their clients to expand internationally, so his insight into the process was crucial. As Rob himself says:
“Selling in a different language is not as hard as it might sound and if you partner with the right translation service then you heavily de-risk your expansion plans. In the B2B environment you must have the perfect translation, with all of the nuances of the location – it’s the crucial ingredient to whether we’re successful or not.”
Of course we’re very familiar with that importance; whether the translation is a customer-facing marketing message or to do with internal communications. Ankita’s research marks a ground-breaking moment, where there is finally some quantifiable evidence on the importance of language to business success. This important milestone will mean many more businesses will take the time to embrace language capabilities now and far into the future.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how translations can play a part in your growth strategy, please book a call with our team.