By David Winfield, Director BCE Consultancy & former Deputy Head.
In the world of education, reaching out to schools and securing sales can be a challenging endeavour. Already a complex and often lengthy process, decision-making within UK schools has been further complicated by extraordinarily tight resource budgets. However, when it comes to selling educational products or services, there is no better approach than engaging directly with the key decision-makers - the headteachers and senior leadership teams.
Before you speak with them though, there are a few things to remember.
NO TWO SCHOOLS ARE THE SAME
School contexts vary wildly: school size, funding, staffing levels, fabric of the buildings, facilities, student socio-economic backgrounds and current OFSTED grading are just a few of the factors at play that can hugely impact the effectiveness of your product or service. When engaging in direct conversations with headteachers, consider carefully the specific challenges and requirements of the school. This personalised approach allows for tailored solutions, which greatly enhance the chances of a successful sale.
TRUST AND CREDIBILITY ARE KEY
Just as trust is the foundation of any successful business relationship, so it is in education, and speaking with senior school leaders is the surest way to build a sense of credibility and professionalism. The direct interaction not only showcases the expertise of the representatives of the company, but also instills confidence in the school's decision-makers. School leaders are in a high-stakes, high-stress environment: never underestimate the importance of building trust: it WILL lead to long-term partnerships and repeat business.
SCHOOLS ARE CONSERVATIVE AND RISK AVERSE
Schools are cautious about investing in new products or services for good reason - most new initiatives fail! Engage directly with school leaders honestly about your product or service, provide opportunities for concerns or objections to be raised so you can address them. Offer additional information such as case studies, success stories or testimonials to demonstrate the value and efficacy of your offerings (top-tip: video testimonials are particularly powerful!) It's more time consuming, but a personalised approach will help overcome reservations and pave the way for a successful sale - and a higher value partnership for the long term.
GETTING PAST THE GATEKEEPER
Despite the importance of these approaches, securing the initial conversation can be the most difficult part of the process - and this is where BlueCow education come in. For an initial investment of just £500 to trial one of our online showcases, you will speak to between 14-22 school leaders in 90 minutes; it's incredibly time efficient and with none of the frustrations of getting past the school secretary, posting out brownies or spending days on a show stand hoping that someone will wander on to speak with you! Not only will you have the opportunity to generate leads from these leaders, but they will also provide invaluable written feedback with their thoughts on your product. We also provide a 30 minute briefing in advance of the event to help you get the most from it and will let you know which schools will be in attendance a week before it takes place.
Selling to schools is hard and complex - but we can help simplify and improve the efficiency of the process. Just get in touch!