One of the major challenges in selling to education is getting your product in the right hands, using the right channels, and then securing the sale. The trick is to reach out and develop a connection so you can confidently inform decision makers, “This product will meet your needs or address your problem!”
Education marketers need a strategy that makes use of all the right channels, maximizing the potential of reaching the right decision makers and, ultimately, closing a deal. Fostering relationships with school decision makers makes a bigger splash than the cold approach. Try to establish a connection prior to receiving a request for proposal (RFP). Research the school or district you are targeting so you have a clear understanding of the needs, opportunities and challenges they are facing. Maybe send a sample of your product or service, conduct a pilot program or offer a demo. Building relationships prior to the sale or pitch will provide a return on your time investment.
Keep the RFP Process Simple
Sometimes the RFP process can give you false hope. Remember this process may take time and, in some cases, a vendor may have contributed to the writing of the RFP. Be sure to ask questions, speak to the right decision makers, and know as much about the school or district as you can find out. In this time of the hyper-availability of funding because of federal COVID-19 relief money—the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER)—creating a streamlined internal process, with well-thought-through answers that can be reused and personalized in various proposals will make responding in a tight time frame more manageable.
Keeping District and School Buying Cycles in Mind is Key
It’s always critical to understand a school or district’s buying cycle and procurement processes. Purchasing decisions for typical classroom products, such as supplies, are usually made quickly, without much of a need for evaluation. Other levels of decision making could take more time to get through the procurement process with some even requiring approval by the school board. It’s important to make sure any new materials match the teacher, school, or district’s curricular goals and technology. Being aware of where a district or school is in this process will position you as a partner, rather than an outsider unfamiliar with their planning.
Educational product and service providers who get requests for information, or RFPs should understand demographic and firmographic information about the district or school and the funding available at the time. MDR’s MarketView can help you track the current ESSER funds and other school and district funding, as well as provide a well-rounded view of schools and districts.
There are a lot of opportunities to work with teachers, schools, and districts to help them meet their current and emerging needs. MDR can provide you with insights for speaking with and engaging decision makers. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.