One constant for all B2E sales reps is a limited territory. We all sell to the same finite pool of education buyers, many of whom are sold to so much that they tune out pretty much all in-bound sales attempts. You’ll probably start by avoiding these black holes and looking for greener pastures elsewhere, but as time marches on you’ll have no place else to reach goal other than to break into those districts. I remember having one such target that was so steadfastly opposed to taking a meeting that I am ashamed to admit my prospecting efforts there were reduced to checking every year to see if the elderly curriculum director had died. Death is not a good strategy. Today’s post is about far more reliable ways to break into that pesky black hole.
Research tells us that educators place a reference from a colleague as the most impactful ed tech marketing. Great if you are selling an established solution and have tons of happy customers ready to pick up the phone on your behalf. Even then, districts prize referrals from their small personal network, and from like-sized and like-minded districts. It’s like catching lightning in a bottle to pull off a reference introduction that will take a black hole district from cold to interested in any reasonable amount of time. What else can you do?
Find out who supports your client. There are a lot of educational consultants around school districts. It is fair game to reach out to these people, and they are not used to being approached by sales people making them fairly accessible. Your goal is to inform them about how your solution fits in to overall educational goals (particularly geared to the expertise they are providing to the black hole district). Maybe your product has data available that those people can help teachers use more effectively. Maybe they could increase their billings to the district if they were also implementing and training that district on your solution. It’s a great ally to have.
How on earth do you find this unicorn? Start with search. Try combining search terms of “district name award contract professional development” and see if any local firms pop up. You can also use the districts procurement system to search for awards of professional development contracts. Depending on your territory there may be state or regional educational consultants supporting your target district. I once connected with a woman that was one of only 6 educational consultants for my home state of Michigan and she personally walked me into at least a dozen opportunities for schools that could benefit from my product. Depending on your product category there are people at regional offices who support districts and are always looking to be informed on the best possible resources.
Beyond educational consultants, you should also remember the world’s oldest profession – sales people. Every district has sales people they do trust already supporting them. If there is a product with synergy to yours, such as a hardware that supports your software, or an evaluation tool that is better when integrated with your assessment, seek out the sales or support representative that handles your target district and see if they are willing to take a look at your offering. Not only is this a win-win for the client, those same people are working other districts in the area. Supply them with some of your marketing collateral and ask them if they know anyone else that can benefit from your solution. Don’t forget to reciprocate!
Remember there’s always a way in; one that should never have you wishing poor health or early retirement on a prospect! Keep poking around the people that support that district and if your solution is a good fit, they will likely be happy to be the one to recommend it.