Educators buy results. And convincing an educational prospect that your product can improve educational outcomes isn’t something you can generally do with your website, pretty marketing brochure, or 3 minute YouTube video. While all those tools can help generate interest, B2E sales rely on a sales conversation; face-to-face or virtual. If you’ve been working in B2E for any length of time, you know that we are dealing with incredibly busy people that don’t have lots of openings on their calendars. Here are a few new ways to think about landing those precious 20 minutes with your prospect:
1. Use a conference. Attend an education conference that is closed to vendors for exhibits for a change. Try to set a breakfast, coffee break, lunch, afternoon break, and dinner appointment. Just sitting with a prospect at a group meal is a great way to bond. If your prospect won’t commit to a specific time, at least let them know you’ll try to find them just to say hello. Follow through and hand them a personalized sales packet. Now you’ll at least have a talking point for when you follow up.
2. Invite a neighboring admin to a client training. Clients are often perfectly happy to allow you to invite others from their district or region to sit in on a live training at their school. Some will even do the inviting themselves just for asking, especially when you offer the training free when they bring a non-client to the event.
3. Tag along with a coordinating product. It pays to make friends in your territory. B2E products are frequently complementary — tablets and apps, projectors and software, PD and assessment tools, etc. For instance, a hardware product will show best when it is used to demonstrate educational software in action. Team up at one another’s upcoming meetings! Agree to expertly demonstrate the use of your tool in conjunction with the one an evaluation team is reviewing. Win-win!
4. Leverage county offices of education. My favorite education stakeholders are the resources available at the county or regional level. They are eager to learn about the latest in ed tech, have a little more time than a school or district admin to invest in evaluation, and they go out of their way to promote effective new resources to their constituents. Once you’ve shown them your wares, don’t be shy to ask who in their region could use your outcomes, and ask for their assistance in setting up a meeting or webinar with those prospects.
5. Dine n’ Dash. We’ve all gotta eat. If you can’t get in to see a prospect by day, sometimes a before or after school event at a local hotel or restaurant will give admins an opportunity to grab a bagel or pizza over your short presentation. These are best emceed by an existing client in the district, but you can also go it alone to crack into a new area. Educators are a cheap date — they are incredibly grateful for the simplest of meals, and are thrilled by little door prizes or giveaways for their classrooms or students. If you make it fun enough – it could become an annual event that grows by word of mouth.
6. Educator of Excellence Awards. When you have a stellar user of your product, it’s a nice idea to honor them for their pioneering leadership. We all blush when someone tells our boss what a great job we are doing, so let theirs know! Ask a district admin to help you honor a special principal or teacher with a brief certificate presentation at an upcoming meeting. And…perhaps that ambassador will have a few nice things to say about your product in the process. This scales up to the school level by creating a banner or flag for your top sites. Include local press in the act–they love the photo opp of students receiving that honor at an assembly!
7. Free labor. Back-to-school and end-of-year time is hectic for building admins and teachers. There’s a lot of boxes and equipment to be sorted and moved. If you are a physically capable individual, you might want to offer your helping hands to a principal in a funny email with a subject line such as, “Will clean for 20 minutes of your time!” A fallback offer is to supply snacks for the break room during this hectic time and perhaps when you drop it off you’ll get those 20 minutes to start a conversation. Individual baggies of treats can include a “from your friends at …” note.
8. Results reports. Small and medium-sized district admins often don’t have a lot of reporting resources. If your product offers student growth or usage information, don’t count on those stakeholders always being in the loop. If you have a growing user base in a district, you can offer to schedule a meeting to either teach the district admin the product or walk through a binder of some of the semester’s reporting data. I’ve seen superintendents go gaga after being handed a few definitive insights, and drive my product district-wide as a result. Always clear this with the school first, especially if they pay for your product themselves — sometimes schools prefer NOT to share up the ladder, and never share student data school-to-school or outside of a school district.
9. Offer to do legwork. Busy educators, particularly site level personnel don’t get to every webinar, conference or training they would like to. If you are able to attend a key state meeting that they probably won’t be able to, offer to bring by handouts that they missed and do a show and tell for their staff. How could they refuse you an extra 10 minutes to talk about your service?
10. Check the game schedule. This is a little trick for middle and high school principals, and not to be sexist, but particularly if it is a man. If you are really stuck trying to see one of these guys, look on their school’s website for home sporting events. Most are in their office later than usual, then head out to the court or field to support their students. A drop in at just the right after hours time, after the gate keeper leaves but prior to the game, may result in a victory for you! If you don’t like a sneak attack – suggest a “pre-game” sandwich on you in his office.
Share more of your creative B2E appointment setting ideas in the comments section! Happy Hunting!