John Herzig appointed VP of Sales
We are proud to announce that John Herzig has been appointed VP of Sales for XTM International. From a base in Chicago John will lead the US sales team, further increasing XTM’s market share across North and South America. John’s track record delivering language technology solutions to enterprise clients hungry for growth makes him the ideal person to lead this exciting new phase of XTM’s development.
John comes to XTM International with a reputation as an industry sales leader, earned over 20 years at technology and language service providers including RWS/SDL and Lionbridge. He has a wealth of cross-sector knowledge and niche experience selling language technology to the medical device sector.
We asked John to share his views on current language technology trends and their impact on client content strategy, and to tell us what he enjoys most about B2B sales.
Tell us about your role as VP of Sales. What will be your top three priorities?
John Herzig: My three top priorities will be revenue, revenue and revenue. The goal is to accelerate XTM’s growth in North America, and I’m excited about doing exactly that. XTM is currently enjoying 50% year on year growth and we expect to ramp that up to 60-80%. To hit the target, key processes have to be put in place and key roles have to be filled, notably we need to build a team of sales development representatives to qualify new leads and hand them over to field sales reps who will convert them. We also need to refine our existing sales processes so we’ll be better placed to identify and manage growth opportunities.
What important trends or shifts do you see shaping the language space in 2021?
John Herzig: I’ve seen two big trends. One of them is that companies are way more confident with MT than they used to be. MT has improved a hundred fold with the arrival of NMT and the ability to train engines specifically for departments and products. In the life sciences sector MT was both the hottest and the most taboo topic; companies were so excited and scared of it at the same time, and they were probably right to be. When you combine a powerful NMT with a robust post-editing process, in the majority of use cases you can get a high-quality output. When companies overcome their aversion to MT, use it to manage traditional translation tasks and to gain access to previously untranslatable content such as user generated content (UGC) or social media content, great things can happen for them.
The second trend is the desire to separate language services from localization technology. For a long time, customers combined the two. It was a reasonable decision at the time: Have the LSP also offer the TMS and the customer can negotiate better translation rates (the bulk of the spend)! However, too many companies got burned when something went wrong either with the services or the technology. So now, I see a desire to exert more control over the tech and identify best in breed for tech and service separately.
How are those trends impacting what life science sector companies do about global content?
John Herzig: Some trends, such as the dispersion of the workforce because of Covid, regulation through EU MDR, and digital transformation, are not going away anytime soon. Those trends cause companies to rethink their technology budgets and upgrade their spend. My advice to companies is always to invest in their technology stack. The amount of content they produce multiplied by the number of languages they need, further multiplied by the speed at which they need to get content to market equals one very large content challenge. The way to gain control over global content is to invest in technology: Specifically a CMS or CCMS to author and publish global content. Also, connect those systems to a next generation Translation Management System. One example: I was involved in a major localization project for a medical device client in 2019/2020. At debrief stage, the client sought feedback on how they could improve their translation workflows. Their content was decentralized and scattered across various systems. They really needed two things: A CCMS to have one repository of content and one TMS connecting it all to their global LSPs.
How is the Covid pandemic impacting enterprise business? Do you see any long-term effects for specific industries?
John Herzig: In the life sciences sector, many companies were already on the path towards virtual clinical trials. It’s cost-effective for the provider and convenient for the patient. The pandemic has only accelerated this trend.
The other long term effect is the work-from-home trend. The challenge for us in sales will be to increase our comfort level with remote technology such as Slack and Zoom. The buyer’s journey is critical. And as sales professionals, we need to make sure that we deliver an exceptional experience, without the benefit of meeting face to face. It’s tough, but we all adapt.
What are customers prioritizing when buying translation technology?
John Herzig: There are three things that should be front-and-centre for technology buyers. Firstly, it’s critical to conduct robust data security audits to see if a solution has strong infrastructure that safeguards the enterprise’s intellectual property. Secondly, it’s important to allocate enough time to the proof of concept (POC) step. Rushing it or skipping it completely results in problems that could otherwise be avoided. And lastly, checking references and validating case studies is a must. My recommendation is to have an open conversation with your language technology providers and talk with people behind case studies. A robust proof of delivery process will pay major dividends in the future.
Why XTM? What attracted you to the organization ?
John Herzig: It’s a combination of things. I know the product because I competed against it, and I lost more often than I won. Over the last 6-12 months I saw a number of medical device sector clients migrating to XTM, Philips being one of them. These types of customers are very mature, tech savvy buyers with technology embedded deeply in their solutions over a long period of time. But apparently their technology did not help them achieve what they planned. After a lengthy POC, XTM always came out on top, which was a clear indication to me that it’s a market leading TMS. The second thing that attracted me to the company was the investment from K1. Putting financial resources behind ambition is key to growth. That’s what K1 brings to the table. Combine that with a very good product, and a strong executive / leadership team and you have a recipe for success.
We’re seeing unprecedented levels of M&A activity in the language space. Why is this happening and how is this impacting language technology buyers?
John Herzig: I’m a bit confused about the mergers and acquisitions happening in the language industry. I see language services and language technology at opposite ends of the spectrum. In the traditional LSP world, there’s a race between super agencies to be number one: who’s going to be the best LSP provider, who’s the first to turn over a billion? Is it RWS/SDL, TransPerfect or another player? Consolidation on the LSP side has been going on for a while. My view is that lots of LSPs are overpaying for acquisitions and they run into problems integrating cultures, processes, and internal technologies.
At the other end of the spectrum we have M&A in language technology and that doesn’t confuse me at all. We’ve seen a big increase in investment whether it’s K1 with XTM, other groups with Memsource or some other investments in data for AI, and that makes more sense to me. That fits in with what we provide, with our product roadmap, and it aligns with our customers’ digital transformation efforts. Our clients are trying to figure out how language technology can serve their purpose, how it can improve content creation, translation and content delivery. Having a tool of the calibre of XTM Cloud helps companies improve their connectivity to different content repositories; it improves their process automation; and it takes away lots of manual tasks. XTM has built in AI to improve our clients’ translation processes, and XTM Cloud gets things done faster, cheaper and better. That definitely makes more sense to me as opposed to the traditional LSP model.
What is the most interesting aspect of B2B software sales currently and how has it changed ?
John Herzig: I think it’s changed in three ways, all of which make it very interesting. Number one, there are more stakeholders involved in the decision making process. That means we have to cater our messaging to each. Secondly, any enterprise software purchase is a consensus buy, relating to the first point. Thirdly, customers have access to more and better information than in the past. For us, this means they are savvier about localization and localization technology than ever before. In my view, this is extremely positive; with a savvier buyer, we can have more strategic conversations about working together to meet business challenges.
Which aspect of B2B sales do you enjoy most?
John Herzig: I love learning each customer’s unique reasons for buying. Even if some of the challenges they face are universal, their reasons for buying and buying now can vary greatly. This is a tremendous opportunity to understand their business and their personal/professional motivations for attacking a specific problem
Do you speak any languages other than English?
John Herzig: I am a fluent French speaker, having spent seven years living, studying and working in Strasbourg.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
John Herzig: I’m pretty handy in the kitchen. So a good amount of my free time is spent cooking. I was recently gifted a wood burning pizza oven, so we’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with that. I also made a “covid buy” and invested in a pretty decent ice cream maker. Current flavors are peach sorbet and the Italian classic straciatella.
Thank you for your insights, John. We’re all delighted to be working with you.