When I’ve seen B2E entrepreneurs struggle it is generally because they have a flawed go-to-market strategy. They have a good widget, sometimes a great one, but the way it is priced or licensed or marketed is out of sync with how education buyers operate. If you feel like you can’t get your B2E startup out of first gear, this is the place to focus.

You can increase your odds of closing business by knowing whose problem you can solve and what his budget is. Think about these go-to-market conundrums:

PROBLEM 1: A math entrepreneur is convinced his supplemental tool is best sold to middle school building principals and not the district level because it wasn’t a full curriculum for math. The product costs about $14,000 per building. Good thinking to market to building principals, because that is where most supplements are purchased. Unfortunately spending authority at the MS level tops out around $10k. Over that he would need the district’s approval, but his tool isn’t resonating with those buyers who were occupied with full math curriculum.

MISMATCH: Price exceeds target buyer’s authority.

SOLUTION: Align the product to the most commonly adopted text books and call on the Math Department Chair. Now you’re talking her language. If she is conducting a text book purchase, funds and interest will collide.

PROBLEM 2: A free behavior-management tool was made available to teachers in the hopes of eventually capturing paid subscribers. Unfortunately, while teachers love using the program, they don’t have spending authority for this type of technology and the conversion to paid customers was nil. Why didn’t teachers just request it from their principals or districts who might hold the budget? They admitted they did not want their administrators to have visibility into the behavior of their classroom. Since they could keep using the service privately for free, they had no motivation to either pay for it themselves or request it up the ladder.

MISMATCH: Marketing target (teachers) not advancing sale with budget-holders.

SOLUTION: Look at states where the department of education has a goal to drive improved behavior in the classroom. Try to get the state to purchase it for all teachers, perhaps with the help of a corporate sponsor.

PROBLEM 3: A cool app to enable any student device to instantly submit lecture answers is loved by all that see it. Does it go-to-market as an assessment, instructional technology, records-management tool or all three? To have the smoothest sailing probably none of the above, at least not directly. There are so many gadgets and freeware around, that this tool will necessarily have a very low price point. That will make it tough to support any direct sales organization. Also, as a one-function app, adoption will probably default to the classroom level – assessment directors and IT guys won’t be thrilled at weaving it in.

MISMATCH: Solution is not integrated into primary district data stream.

SOLUTION: If the app is targeted well to serve those needs in the education space, it shouldn’t dissuade the developers that districts aren’t buying it directly. They should try going to developers of more complete solutions that have the district buyers already. As a “bolt on” this tool could enhance any number of other products.

Did any of the above scenarios remind me of a problem you are experiencing? Every B2E solution that improves educational outcomes has its own perfect go-to-market approach, it just takes some strategic thinking to get there.

  1. Start by knowing what pain point your product solves. Use the below guide to education buyers to decide who your best target is.
  2. Determine their per student budget.
  3. If the target buyer doesn’t have adequate funds or buying authority, what’s your workaround to have them advance the sale for you?

Your go-to-market strategy is the most critical success factor for your B2E. Missing by an inch can prevent your business from thriving. Let us know if you need some fresh eyes on your problem. We’d love to help!

B2E Buyer Slide

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