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Selling Solutions to School Districts

In recent blogs, we have examined the EdTech industry, the problems they are facing and what those solutions look like to those problems.  My previous blog specifically pointed struggling districts towards the solution of outsourcing. I argued that this was a solution to save costs, acquire expertise, and planning.  While this may look like a solution that would work, it is not a bandaid solution for all school districts. So what options do they have? If the school district keeps its IT team in house, what solutions do they have to be successful?

Who are you Pitching To?

Chances are you probably won’t only be talking to just IT professionals about your software.  In terms of big purchases, there are committees set up with varying degrees of expertise to help decide what solution would be best for that district.  Teachers often play a vital role in the process of selecting solutions. They are the individuals on the forefront seeing these technologies transform education, and seeing the value these technologies bring to education.  Other administration officials may also be involved with the procurement process such as individuals with access to the budget. Superintendents have been known to be present during these discussions as well.

How to Sell Solutions to Schools

School districts have a lot on their plate.  EdTech is a growing market, with thousands of available softwares claiming to be the right solution for school districts. “The reality is there are more than 5,000 EdTech tools and interventions” [1].  They have strict budgetary guidelines that need to be followed and are constantly facing standard IT issues.   The IT professional is no longer just an IT professional, they need to be up-to-date with current technology trends and software, select a solution that fits the district’s budget needs and makes sure the network is running smoothly to ensure student success.  With all of these being factors, it’s safe to say that a routine sales pitch to a service provider is not going to work on these guys. The emphasis here is on student success, so the question you need to ask yourself is, what impact will my solution have on their student success?

It’s Tricky

Take a technical deep dive into your product, what is the value? Can that value lead to student success? You aren’t just pitching to the district on the technical side.  Yes, you’re pitching that your software can do x y and z, but what does that mean to the district as a whole. You are pitching value, not services.

What Are They Looking For?

 

  • Management– If a school district is only going to use a small percentage of your solution, they are going to be wasting money, and they know this.  If a district is excited about one feature that you have then you are probably not what they are looking for. They also are not going to want to have to hire additional staff to manage these solutions because of their tight budgets.
  • Scaleability– Can this be implemented district-wide? Can it be viewed district-wide? With such large network environments, it is essential that your software is scalable to be able to reach all corners of the environment.
  • Value– the solution you are trying to sell needs to be able to provide more digital opportunities for student learning.  The district’s goal is student success. What impact will your product have on student success?
  • Ease of Use– Keep in mind your end user.  Solutions that are not easy to use are not going to be purchased by a school district.  It’s imperative to know your end user. Is it a teacher? Little Timmy or a network engineer?  This also applies to support. Who is going to be fixing the technical issues?
  • Integrations– with thousands of pieces of technology available to districts it is crucial that yours integrates with most of them, or at least the big players.  Integrating or partnering with similar solutions could also make your solution more appealing to them, especially if your product is large and you know they won’t use all of it.  

Bundling to Schools

 

With such an emphasis on the value that these solutions bring, it’s essential to take a step back to determine if the solution you are putting in front of these individuals is actually bringing them value.  It may be worth taking a look at your bundle options. With district’s needs being so specific to their industry, it may be worth it to rearrange your bundling options. Is there a combination that would better fit the organization’s needs? How difficult would it be to create a bundling plan specifically for school districts?  If it is within your organization’s abilities then it could be worth it. Having a solution tailored specifically towards school districts would make you stand out against the competition.

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