The K-12 purchasing cycle is rigid. It follows a strict schedule, and sales and marketing professionals must meet prospects with the information they’re seeking at exactly the moment they’re seeking it. But there’s also an upside to K-12’s structure: It’s predictable. You just need to know whom to reach, when, and what to discuss when you do.
Know the Process
The education buying cycle is year-round, and purchasing takes time. Here are the steps to purchase:
May – July: School may be out, but it’s still a busy time in the education purchasing cycle. Educators assess how the previous school year went and plan for the coming school year. These months are a good time to connect with educators to talk about their challenges and how your product may be able to support them.
August – December: With their budgets set, educators use this time to get familiar with the products and programs available — and the companies that offer them. Focus your efforts on building relationships with educators and getting them familiar with how your product can help them drive student achievement.
January - April: A survey of educators conducted by Agile in Spring 2016 tells us that nearly 60 percent of schools finalize their budgets in Q2, so the months leading up to Q2 are critical. It’s time to shift your focus from generating leads to driving sales. You’ve introduced educators to your brand; now it’s time to dive deep about specific product details, such as implementation information, benefits and features, real-world applications, evidence of success, and cost structure.
Summer: According to Agile’s survey data, 60–70 percent of purchases occur between late May and late August, so be ready to provide all the final information educators need to make a decision and submit a purchase order.
The key to education sales is to vary your approach depending on the time of year and where your prospects are at in the sales cycle.
For example, product demos in September may not be as effective as product demos in January. In September, educators are busy with the back-to-school rush and are focused on researching all of the solutions available to them. Instead of trying to pin people down for a one-on-one demo in the fall, share videos and other information educators can review on their own time. However, as educators head into the consideration and trial period in the spring, push for those product demos and free trials.
Know the Players
Your timing needs to be spot on, and your targeting does too. Even if you meet with an educator at the right time, your efforts are futile if you’re in front of the wrong person.
Education purchasing is collaborative, and it involves a number of individuals at the schools and in the districts. For example, purchases often start with influencers, such as a teacher who needs a classroom solution. That teacher then passes a suggestion along to the principal, who might seek purchase approval from the superintendent. Your sales strategy shouldn’t just target the person signing the final purchase agreement. Connect with everyone along the path to purchase, from influencers to decision makers.
This is just a snippet of what you’ll learn about the education purchasing process from Agile’s K-12 Education Marketing Cycle guide. Download it
to learn how to lead educators through the cycle with perfectly timed sales tactics.
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