Nothing will be the same for schools after the widespread changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced to classrooms. However, it’s time to move forward, albeit in a different direction, with new information in hand. This goes from the methods that curriculum is taught and extends all the way to the vendors that school districts use to obtain the necessary equipment. This has been exemplified by a recent survey published by EdWeek Market Brief. So let’s go into the details and what this means for teachers and students in the classroom.
Pitching to schools during the pandemic
The past two years have proven difficult for many people, especially vendors who still need to pitch products to school districts. Budgets were tight, and leadership was trying to guide students and teachers through uncharted territory, leaving little room for new products. In 2020, the President’s budget request was $64 billion. This was a 10% reduction from the previous year at a time when technology and resources were more important than ever.
Here are some challenges that vendors faced during the beginning of the pandemic:
- Cold outreach was less effective.
- Remote demonstrations.
- Many processes were changing along with the tech requirements.
This made it extremely difficult to sell anything during that time, regardless of how much new equipment was needed. Despite this, the EdTech industry began to boom because remote learning became necessary. This was made clear in the over $8.9 billion invested in EdTech during the 2020 fiscal year.
While some challenges remain, vendors are becoming more comfortable with remote pitching, and schools’ budgets are expanding. This leads us to the main question: Are more school districts taking pitches from new vendors?
Education vendors in 2022
Although COVID-19 persists, the height of lockdowns has seemed to pass, leaving way for a semblance of normality to occur. In addition, according to a study by EdWeek, as the impact of the virus eases, there is more outreach to districts from vendors.
Times have changed, and some school districts are less concerned with pricing than 2020, when the future is more uncertain. This has become more obvious because more teachers (50%) two years ago were willing to go with a new vendor if they offered a product for free. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case, with only 19% of teachers responding similarly in 2022. Previously, teachers were less willing to try new vendors and more likely to return to vendors with a previous relationship.
So what are school districts responding well to from new vendors in 2022? To begin with, districts are open to finding new solutions and working with new outside vendors to help with unique requirements. The EdWeek survey found that 55% of respondents said they have interacted with “companies in the past year that they had not worked with previously and are now considering a long-term relationship.”
In 2020, schools, educators and principals faced a crisis year and were not open to taking pitches from new vendors. In addition, some leaders criticized the “tone-deaf” pitches from certain vendors at the pandemic’s peak. Now, districts are more open to listening to potential pitches from companies because they are no longer operating from the same kind of crisis level.
How to make a compelling pitch
Pitching to schools in 2022 is different than it was three years ago. Therefore, vendors need to be aware of the differing requirements from start to finish. Here is a basic breakdown of the process:
As usual, getting the client’s attention is essential and first impressions can make all the difference. One of the most common ways to contact schools is through email outreach. Results may vary, but personalizing emails to the specific recipient is essential to seeing results. While there are other ways to make initial contact, email is the least disruptive way to reach out.
It’s best to start pitching and reaching out as early as possible. The National Retail Federation reports that over half of consumers, students, and other customers attached to education are shopping for their back-to-school items as early as July. School districts are preparing early, too, so you must be ready to capitalize on this trend.
The doors are open to new vendors, and proactivity is a valuable asset to many schools. Bringing products or services to administration with tact is vital following the pandemic. Your salespeople need to approach the potential customers with reliable facts and infrastructure based on industry trends. As students fall into a learning gap, teachers look for ways to bolster their education. The EdWeek Market Brief reports that there were two main reasons that schools may go back to a vendor:
- 35% liked that the product aligns with state standards.
- 29% were impressed with the company’s track record of improving student achievement.
Are you ready to learn more about how to market in the changing education industry? Reach out to Agile Education today.