This is the third post in a three-part series about research conducted by C. Blohm & Associates and Winter Group during focus group sessions at ISTE in Atlanta. Part one covers “Where Educators Get the Scoop on New Products”. Part two explores “Old School is New School.”
When we spoke with the focus groups at ISTE, several educators reserved their most intriguing insights for our discussion on how they work with education sales people. Some are considered partners by their districts, but they had to work hard to establish that trust, investing considerable time to build a good buyer-vendor relationship.
Educators prefer to do business with people they like and respect, but some companies don’t understand that the sales process has changed. By the time a potential customer puts up their hand asking for contact, they already know a great deal about your business, products or services. They are well into the sales funnel by your initial conversation. The first impression counts, and it shouldn’t be a cold call.
Successful companies don’t just sell products; they sell relationships.
This point cannot be repeated too often: Schools and districts are interested in how companies will support them after the purchase. Many have had bad experiences with vendors, so it’s the salesperson’s responsibility to understand a district’s challenges and present viable long-term solutions to help educators and administrators achieve their goals.
So who should be at the table? Educators say they need more integration between curriculum and technology. They want tech people involved on both sides of the conversation. Technology directors in particular want the opportunity to ask the hard questions that sales people may not be able to answer.
Virtually every product generates data. Administrators want to understand how to use student performance data to differentiate instruction, and in turn, to meet their school’s instructional goals.
Help schools and districts connect the dots between home and school, and among classrooms, building sites and the district office. The vendor who best matches products and service to a district’s needs will develop a longstanding, mutually beneficial relationship.
School districts have challenges. Become a valued partner by helping them solve their problems and achieve their goals.
Thanks to the focus groups of educators who met with us at ISTE in Atlanta. Groups of district and building level technology and instructional staff exchanged opinions on a wide-ranging list of topics affecting schools and districts. This independent market research from C. Blohm & Associates and the Winter Group was presented last month to education marketers at the EdNET conference in Baltimore.