For reps working the US K-12 Market, 2016 will mark a return to closely watching state policy for your cues on how to talk to your customers, derive their worries, and help them stay ahead of the curve. One of the best places to hear it first is by listening to the governor(s) in your territory deliver their State of the State address. Most are this week and next. It’s rare when education isn’t given a fair bit of attention in this speech, and you hear from the horse’s mouth what to expect in terms of funding and initiatives for the year to come. Turn that knowledge to gold with these tips on how to leverage the State of the State:
- There’s usually a transcript on your state’s website. If you nod off during the address (completely understandable) or need to catch concurrent addresses, head to the state.gov website to read it instead. You can also grab exact quotes that way.
- Type notes. Not only will you start understanding what was said better, if you keep these every year you will start to build a reference for yourself on what is different in how the governor is speaking to education year after year. That is going to give you greater insight over time.
- Read what the media, State Superintendent, teacher’s union, large district supes, and others say about the speech in the days immediately following. Their reaction is going to tell you a lot about whether any proposed policies will have smooth sailing and will likely be enacted, or whether grid lock is going to keep the status quo a bit longer.
- Synthesize what you’ve read and taken notes on, and send a short summary to your marketing team and sales manager. While B2E management tries hard to stay abreast of education policy, 50 states veering in their own directions is tough to pay attention to. If you want your territory to be handled with localized attention, take the lead on keeping everyone up to the minute. The best summaries are written objectively first, and then followed by an opinion section on what you feel this means for your B2E.
- Tune up your “Tell Me’s.” If you’re an avid Selling B2E reader, you know that your Tell Me’s are the 4-5 open ended questions you ask a prospect when you are conducting a needs assessment. They begin with “Tell Me” as in, “Tell me how the new career and technical training initiative the governor proposed last week will impact your schools?” Make sure you work the big new themes into these Tell Me’s as they are big new worries/needs/opportunities for your customers.
- Reach out to your fellow reps. Most policy ideas are copy cats. If your state is for instance adding a 3rd grade reading assessment, or end of course exams, or switching from the ACT to the SAT, reach out to reps whose states have already been down that road. Steal their case studies, references and knowledge
- If you have a succinct summary, or can find a good objective one in the media, send it to your pipeline with a connection to your product or service. Not all your customers have time to watch that State of the State, or even know they should. They will likely read an email with the subject line “Great news for your district in State of the State” or “Here’s a Quick State of the State Summary.” Offer your services to help them get up to speed on changes ahead: “Hi Bob, I’ve attached our brief overview of the State of the State. We are so excited that [topic] is a key priority for your DOE this year. [Your company] has great results in moving student achievement in [topic]. If you have time in the next couple of weeks, I’d love to stop in and bring you up to speed on the lessons learned in this area from some of the fore-runners who have used [your product] for great [topic] results.”
- Think about not just new opportunities, but how what you’ve learned is an opportunity for add-on/expansion business with your existing customers. Don’t be shy, flaunt your new-found knowledge. If you spend an hour on researching the State of the State, you probably know more than your entire customer base does in the week following the address. Be a valuable resource to them.
Last but not least, send that summary to me! Not joking. I like to keep up with all the states and would really enjoy reading your notes if you create them. Email me directly: email@example.com. Here’s to a lot of progressive state education policy heading our way!!