The education industry is a multi-billion Dollar market, with public and private schools worldwide increasingly investing in the technologies and solutions that help them prepare learners for the future. From textbooks and tablets, to digital whiteboards and software solutions, educational institutions have a myriad tools that they need in order to function optimally.
However, every school has different needs, and with various departments being responsible for purchasing decisions, the many suppliers of educational products have to work a lot harder to reach the right decision makers, says Louise Robinson, MD of CG Consulting. “Selling to educational institutions is different to selling in any other industry, and many companies struggle to speak to the right person to see the value of what they are offering. In many cases, even if they do contact the right decision maker, it takes a long time to get the appropriate budget and approvals to conclude the deal,” she adds.
“It takes some time to really understand the ins and out of the purchasing cycle. There are many individuals involved. It follows a highly regimented schedule. Purchasing can take months, even years. To be successful at selling to educational institutions, it’s important to find the right partners.”
Robinson points out that selling to schools requires relationships, and it takes time for companies to hire the right sales team that can either have or establish relationships with decision makers. “The sales cycle is long and requires patience and upfront investment in team. To accelerate the process, it is easier for businesses to employ lead generation partners for their product.”
She says that joining with partners whose job is to make sure sales are achieved can create a win-win situation. “Every company has its own areas of expertise. Those in the business of creating products for the education sector specialise in their particular area. Similarly, specialist marketing and lead generation companies excel at their line of business. Even if a company doesn’t need a full lead generation service, a good, clean database containing the names and contact details of the decision makers they need to reach can be the break they need to make the sale.”
An important aspect of successful sales in this unique vertical is the behind-the-scenes path involved to get to the sale, she adds. The success of a vendor’s strategy begins with knowing the market, learning the needs of individual schools, and making sure that they are in touch with the schools that need their particular product – a high bar before even getting a foot in the door.
“It’s also important to know the ins and outs of the purchasing cycle. Most schools finalise budgets for the following school year in the middle of the year. That means that most will know exactly which products they’re going to buy as summer starts. However, those purchases likely won’t occur until shortly before the school year begins. Knowing the unique timing of the education sales cycle can help develop stronger messages around exactly the information educators need at the specific stage of the sales cycle they are in,” Robinson says
“Decision makers are hard to reach and are often overwhelmed with companies trying to sell them something. They receive a large number of proposals and only select a few companies to meet with. When this chance is missed, companies can’t even talk with a prospect. It is not easy to just cold-call potential schools. Using a lead generation company like CG Consulting makes it easier to gain initial trust and get meeting appointments with the right people. In addition to helping a number of vendors sell to this vertical over the years, we have a comprehensive database of decision makers in education that has helped companies eliminate the red tape, vastly improving the sales cycle.”