Educators are a transient bunch. Due to the high number of young teachers working toward tenured positions and the extremely flat org structure of the typical school system, young teachers and rising stars move from school to school and district to district with surprising regularity. Harnessing these migratory patterns can be a boon to your business, continuously providing hot new leads each school year. But be warned—not being prepared can set you back.
What can go wrong
- One person manages your program at a school and they move on. Best case scenario is that they let you know they are changing districts and set up a handoff with their old school, and ask for a quote for their new school. But you can just as easily miss both opportunities.
- Several of your teacher users move to new schools, thinning the knowledge base and excitement factor at the old building. If you have knowledge of the transition you can get ahead of offering training for inbound replacements, as well as tee up an adoption at your users’ new homes. If your only contact for your users was their program ID or their work email, your success is not in your own hands.
- Your champion was not your buyer–possibly they were a lead teacher or district admin–and with their departure, required use of your program, or even just the reminder to use your program trails off into the sunset.
Two basic rules: connect outside your clients’ school email address, and connect with as many people in your district as possible. The first one ensures you have a relationship lifespan beyond their current location, and the latter improves your odds of renewing the sites you have. Just like a unicycle with its one point of contact with the ground isn’t as sturdy as an 18-wheeler, having only one contact at a school or district is pretty weak. You want to have deep relationships across a school system so that as educators move up, move on, or change specialties that you are prepared to maintain your account and grow your business.
During the sale:
- Use LinkedIn or Facebook to forge a long lasting connection with your later stage prospects even if their job changes down the road. This door swings both ways in case YOU move on from your current position.
- Invite prospects to follow your company on Twitter or a blog. Presuming you have a legitimate content marketing program in place, this will also help you stay in touch on a long cycle sale.
- Invite new users to join your user community blog, Facebook group and YouTube channel, and follow your company on Twitter. Make a point to have heavy content targeted to new users so there will be a payoff for participating.
- For software solutions which require a user ID, require users to submit a verifiable email address as part of their registration. As obvious as this sounds, I frequently see vendors miss this opportunity to get assistance with password reset, and also to form a social relationship with — USERS, not just your buyer.
- Request volunteer team leaders for each grade or other subgroups. These leaders will typically take the responsibility seriously and have a reason to connect with your firm on social media, forging a more permanent bond. They also of course reinforce your program’s champion in the event of losing your primary contact.
- Certified user programs are not only going to increase the likelihood that your product will succeed at a school, it will give you more chances to collect user social media connections. A badge solution provider such as Basno is going to provide social media plugs and a deeper connection to your users.
- Invite users to become ambassadors for your program. Allow them to earn opportunities to work your booth at tradeshows or earn money training other users afterschool or in the summer. Ambassadors can even be helpful bloggers and Tweeters about your product depending on how much time the average user spends touching your program in a week. If contact time is high, your ambassador program can and should be far reaching. One large digital publisher used ambassadors to do sales presentations. Nothing wrong with that if your relationship is solid and you’ve seen them present.
- Every August test out your email list with an “Update your contact info” request. This can lead to discovering who bounces back, giving you a clue to search for them elsewhere, and shore up your contact list at the client’s site.
- Make it easy for teacher users to sell your product at a new district or school. Make sure teachers know where to find your company information or website when it isn’t synonymous with your product site. Your help directory should include all the pertinent about us information for them, so they’ll be armed with easy to share marketing material to sell their new boss with.
All of the above probably sounds like a lot of work, especially if you’re having to tackle it all as a startup entrepreneur or a sales rep with little marketing support. But how much work is getting a qualified lead? The fact is, these strategies and programs aren’t nice-to-have icing on your marketing cake, they provide hot pipeline leads every time a teacher, principal or district admin changes jobs while at the same time boosting re-orders and renewals. Successful B2E vendors get taken with their users wherever they land in the annual merry-go-round of educator transitions. Leverage that movement to virally spread the word about how terrific and valuable your solution is and it will provide you with new business each year. Just like the song says, “Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver, the other gold!”