Selling to Schools, Method #1: Have The Best Sales Team Around. Having a great stable of sales reps is key if you’re selling to schools; sales reps are useless unless they’ve got a good sense of who they’re selling to. Schools, as many of us in the trade know, are full of savvy individuals working under strict conditions, who often are withheld from making important purchases because of budgetary concerns. Having a sales team that knows the terrain is paramount.
Selling to Schools, Method #2: Use Professional Development As An Opportunity. If your company is tasked with designing professional development curricula, you have an excellent opportunity to make teachers aware of new pedagogical tools and classroom instructional packages. This isn’t to say you should use professional development purely as a product-placement symposium; PD is an educational tool, and using it purely for marketing to teachers is unethical. But there’s certainly a crossover point between learning and sales, and you’d be remiss in your selling-to-schools efforts if you didn’t synergize here.
Selling to Schools, Method #3: Establish Credibility. Obviously, the sales rep who know what he or she is talking about is the sales rep that’s more likely to file a stack of filled-out purchase orders at the end of the day. But knowing all about the products in your catalogue isn’t enough when you’re selling to schools. Teachers and administrators face funding cycles that don’t always match up with other schools, so the savvy sales rep must be constantly up-to-date on the best times to pitch. Knowing everything you can about a school’s curriculum, student body and lesson plans will make you the kind of sales rep teachers feel they can trust. Selling to schools means selling to people with a lot on their minds, and the more you seem like someone who understands what’s on your clients minds, the better you’ll do.
Selling to Schools, Method #4: Work The Room. Many times, selling to schools means finding the most senior decision-maker around, and pitching to him or her. But getting the ear of an administrator, dean or principal isn’t going to be as simple as dropping a business card in a fishbowl. Sometimes you’ll have to get to know administrative assistants, colleagues and other lower-level staffers before you get to the Big Kahuna. Don’t underestimate anyone; becoming friendly with a receptionist might mean developing a good reputation. Even IT staffers and non-faculty members have opinions that carry weight with the major decision-makers, so don’t pass up any opportunities to make friends. Being open and courteous to everyone you meet isn’t just good manners – it’s good business.
Selling to Schools, Method #5: Sell High. Not the same way you might sell high when you’re looking to unload some stock – this means sell to the highest-level decision maker you can find. Higher-level executives value potential long-term benefits more than price, and have greater latitude in setting purchasing priorities. They’re also less likely to hear from sales reps, since most sales reps will be intimidated by their clout and position. Not you, though. You know that selling to schools means overcoming your apprehension!