To Sell to School Districts, You Have to Understand the Local Politics
Selling an edtech product in a school district means knowing your consumer.
To sell to school districts, you have to understand the local politics, and these public affairs vary widely between systems.
Isolated or integrated?
Districts that work in isolation tend to develop unique processes based on their challenges. They value a different set of priorities.
What to do: Learn how to identify the pain points for small districts working in isolation as well as the challenges of the larger education systems working in integration. Create distinctly different pitches for each one.
Politics v. pedagogy
Sometimes politics supersedes everything else. It shouldn’t, but it does. Unfortunately, the egos on some school boards are so big that there’s little room for discussion about what matters most – student achievement.
Many school board members like to think they understand education, and some do understand. These are your allies when you make your pitch presentation at the school board meeting.
What to do: Validate people’s comments, even if those comments seem self-serving. Give the presentation your best effort, and thank everyone for their time.
A public forum
Schools are transparent about what they do. They have to be because they are spending local tax dollars, and the community will hold public employees accountable for their decisions.
What to do: Show how your product meets goals.
The people you need to know
You probably won’t have access to the school board members before making your pitch. You will, however, have access to the administrators: campus principals and central office directors who might not have the power to make a decision but carry plenty of influence.
Get to know these people ahead of time. Show how well your product or service solves their problems. If they want what you have to offer, they’ll do everything they can to push to get it.
What to do: Your temptation to target teachers will result in some sales, but the big bucks lie at the district level. Meet the top level administrators.
Aligning to priorities
By proving how your edtech product or service aligns to one (or more) of the district’s priorities, you’ll be able to show that you deserve to be an educational partner
What to do: Visit the district’s webpage to see what’s most important. Read the superintendent’s posts, minutes of the board meetings, and everything else you can to get a feel for the district’s priorities.
Ultimately, by understanding local politics, you will be poised to sell to school districts.