Over the years, sales and marketing strategies in the education market have changed, but one fundamental thing hasn’t: this market is built on trusted relationships. So how can businesses make connections and build relationships with education leaders who are busier than ever and faced with more pressures than ever? There is no silver bullet but there are three things every business can do to position themselves as a partner worth getting to know.
1. Know what they need
Whether it’s the barista who remembers your name and coffee order every morning or the sales person who knows your style so well she already has an outfit picked out for you when you walk in the door, we all appreciate when people know us and know what we want. The same is true in education sales. Busy educators don’t have a moment to spare. You can stop them in their tracks by approaching them with sales and marketing communications that are targeted specifically to them.
A 2014 survey by Digital Promise and the Education Industry Association (EIA) concluded that a key component of improving ed-tech purchasing for both vendors and educators is for vendors to get better information about districts’ specific buying needs.
You can jumpstart the needs discovery process by finding out about the initiatives a district has undertaken, the teaching strategies in use, and what tools, like LMS, CMS and SIS, are in use. All of this information will help you put together solutions and communications that are tailored to prospects’ unique situations.
If you don’t take the time to do the research, you run the risk of shutting down the conversation before it even begins. District and school leaders rated “Information that isn’t relevant to my job” and “Vendors that don’t seem to understand my needs or education” as their top two turn offs in a survey conducted in May of 2015 by Agile Education Marketing and PR with Panache!
2. Give it before they ask
Regardless of the product you’re selling, there are certain things educators are always going to want to know, so don’t wait for them to ask. Move the conversation along by anticipating what information is needed throughout the sales cycle. Here is what district and school leaders told Agile is top of mind when researching solutions.
From case studies and white papers to infographics and checklists, proactively provide educators with the information you know they’ll need. Share this content through your social media channels, post it on your web site, send it out in nurture campaigns to prospects, and bring it along to sales calls.
3. Share the knowledge
According to Ann McMullan, former Executive Director of Educational Technology for Klein ISD (TX), new product, program or technology purchases must never be the sole decision of any single entity in the school system. There is no getting around collaborative decision-making in the education market so embrace it!
Even if a superintendent or CIO is going to sign the purchase order, these leaders rely on their staff to bring needs and solutions to their attention. So be sure to send information to and include educators across the spectrum from the district all the way into the classroom.
Many major district-wide purchases began by a few classroom teachers advocating to a principal or curriculum director. In turn, those principals and curriculum directors bring the product to the attention of others in the decision-making circle. The more educators who have heard of your solutions and are aware of their benefits, the more likely you are to get the attention of the person who will sign the deal.
Be the Partner Every District Wants to Know
In the Digital Promise and EIA survey many educators shared that they are overwhelmed and feel they can’t keep up with all the products and solutions available, and all the vendor inquires they get. Let’s change how educators feel and how they perceive education vendors by being informed, insightful and pro-active in your sales and marketing approach.
References and Resources:
Have questions about marketing and sellling to educators? Agile Education Marketing is happy to answer questions, provide insight into the market, and brainstorm ideas for connecting with your target audiences. Get in touch!
Research Report: Improving Ed-Tech Purchasing: Identifying the key obstacles and potential solutions for the discovery and acquisition of K-12 personalized learning tools
Free On-Demand Webinar: Tech in Today’s School: What EdTech Vendors Need to Know
Free On-Demand Webinar: How to Connect with Ed-Tech Decision Makers