I have enthusiastically embraced selling into school districts and schools for over two decades. Helping schools is my passion. Schools have tremendous influence over our countries future because they help mold and teach our future leaders, our children.
School districts, individual schools, and the education system as a whole are notoriously difficult to navigate. They change a lot, but then again they are resistant to change. With the average superintendent’s tenure being around three years, it is not uncommon to see entire district strategies change before the data from the current policies has had time to provide results.
Steve Case, the founder of AOL, in his book The Third Wave, lists education along with health care, food service and government as the most risk-averse industries. They are set in their ways and often make decisions with a 19th-century mindset. While education leaders recognize that they need to change and that there are significant advances in edtech that can provide solutions, they often retreat to the “road-most-travelled” and take the least path of resistance. This means, spending money on things they have done before or making minor tweaks to old-school solutions.
In case you haven’t noticed, edtech is on fire! There are so many incredible solutions for schools that can help students and teachers succeed more efficiently and more affordably.
Because of the rise in edtech, there are a lot of new sales reps knocking on school district doors that may not have the experience selling in this unique and bureaucratic environment. The following article was written by DataHub, a service that provides great data that every company that sells in the education space should use. The article provides good direction and understanding on how to effectively sell in the education space.
With all the innovated technology in today’s world, schools systems can get overwhelmed with all the options. Information technology is an essential in classrooms all across school districts throughout the country. The importance of information technology will only keep increasing because it has a direct impact on student’s performances. In 2017, the total expenditure for public elementary and secondary schools for in the United States is $619 billion or $12,281 per student.
First off, who is your target?
Getting to know your target audience is the first and most essential step in selling product to schools. In order to efficiently market your business, you must understand that selling to K-12 school systems differentiates from normal marketing to companies such as retail or manufacturing.
Some key things to investigate when understanding your target audience:
-Procurement produces & schedules
-RFP and bidding processes
-Certification (credential) requirements
-Volatility of school budgets
So, who makes the decision?
One thing to keep in mind is that within the K-12 school systems, there is not just one person who makes all the decisions. Schools have various titles that partake in decisions regarding technology.
Some of these titles include
Therefore, it is essential to gather information about the chain of command and find out who has the more influence on these decisions. After identifying whom has the most influence in the decision-making process, they become your primary buyer. Therefore, your primary buyer is the person whom you want to sell and pitch your sales.
There are many companies out there that are also targeting the K-12 school systems, so what makes yours stand out? Although schools have spending budgets, they are still in search of the most modern and best technology for their students and staff. Build your company with experienced individuals whom will invent new mobility solutions, data protection and security.
Educate yourself on:
-New potential solutions to education-related problems
-Learning tools (such as gaming stimulation)
Make It Personal
Not all schools are alike. The school district you went to might be completely different then the school district that your college roommate attended. Some things to consider when selling your product to a school:
-Prioritization of technology
-Where/ whom they tend to purchase their tech/apps
And Finally – This is from me…
As the great Coach Jim Valvano said, Never Give Up! Just because one district said no, doesn’t mean they all will. Every district has different priorities on different days. You may get a no from a district and then go 30 miles east to the next one and get them to sign up on the spot. It is a numbers game.