The ed tech marketplace is a very competitive arena, especially in spring at the height of the K-12 buying cycle. In a world with limited opportunities, how can you get a seat at the school administrator’s table?
The answer is simple – build a relationship. Great relationships are based on honesty, trust and communication, and will ripen over time. Your most important relationship might be with the administrator, or it might be with someone on the administrator’s team.
Here are three things to keep in mind:
People do Business with People
One of the best investments your company can make is in your employees. Encourage your sales team to establish relationships with administrators. Smart, driven individuals are the backbone of a strong organization, so put your greatest asset directly in front of district decision makers.
Hiring people who have experience selling in the market also can jumpstart the relationship building process. It’s important to provide your team with the tools they need to both close a sale and foster a long-term relationship. Research goes a long way in this process, and efficient use of CRM software can help tremendously.
It’s easiest to demonstrate the effectiveness of your product by showcasing its success in another (preferably neighboring) district. Administrators value the opinion of their peers and care about what their teachers have to say. Watch this EdNET superintendents’ panel - relationships with staff are critical. My favorite quote from National Superintendent of the Year Alberto Carvalho: “Don’t lead with a steak dinner.”
Understand Administrators Needs and Limitations
Know what administrators’ schedules and pain points look like. This means doing your homework before meeting with a school district. If a district uses iPads, don’t propose a Chromebook app. Similarly, become conversant with a district’s key demographic and financial details, including the number of students, size of staff, population the school district serves and its annual budget. Being able to speak to these details shows you pay attention, won’t waste their time, and aspire to be more than just a vendor – you are a strategic partner who gives sound advice based on knowledge gleaned from careful research.
It’s helpful to know where your company fits in the marketplace. Is your product augmenting a current piece of technology, replacing obsolete resources, or is it entirely new? What does the district no longer need to buy when it has your product? You should understand both your brand, and how it integrates into the broader industry.
Be a Life-long Friend
Relationship building continues after you’ve sold your product. In a healthy partnership both you and the district are prepared if something goes awry. That means your administrator customers will know that you’ll be there to support them through the good times as well as any rocky patches along the way. Your goal is to become a value-add partner long after implementation, providing the district with service when needed not just at contract renewal time.
Your partnership should be based on realistic expectations and a relationship built on honesty, trust, and good communication. Be clear about any areas where your product may run into challenges with a district. The administrator will appreciate your candor, and that you’re acting as a true partner.
Ready to start building powerful relationships? If you’d like more strategies on reaching administrators, please reach out to us at email@example.com.