For EdTech Founders, it’s no secret that the best time to sell your products and services to school districts is in the spring. K-12 schools start working on a budget late in the year and typically finalize their budgets early in the following year. Purchases are then made in late spring or early summer.
But just as school districts conduct research and due diligence throughout the year to determine which products they want to present before the school board, you should be optimizing your sales strategy throughout the year to have a leg up on your sales goals.
Having a head start going into the selling season is especially critical because of the cyclical nature of your cashflow. When you lock in EdTech contracts early on, you have better control of your revenue and finances for the reminder of the year.
We’ve cracked the code on 6 steps to give your sales strategy a powerful boost heading into the spring.
1. Envision Your Target. Lock in Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
The concept of having an ICP may seem rudimentary, but it’s important. Many EdTech startups either need to create an ICP, improve it, or document it.
One major mistake to avoid when crafting an ICP is going too broad with who you’re targeting. It’s impossible for your sales team to focus when you’re casting too wide of a net, and it makes it hard to scale. Going too broad means that you’re willing to work with anyone and that weakens your sales strategy.
Hone in on the more specific details of your ideal customer so that you can more clearly define their journey. One starting point can be focusing on districts that don’t have an optimal solution to solve their challenges and then building out additional characteristics surrounding the district from there.
2. Create Buyer Personas. Distinguish Your Audience.
Knowing the ins and outs of your buyers takes a bit of work, but it’s worth it. Crafting buying personas empowers your sales team with a mental framework and preview of the buyer’s journey before they sell.
Understanding what drives your personas to take action is the strongest piece of knowledge you can have entering a sales conversation. With EdTech sales in particular, you want to document what your personas look like and identify patterns on why they’ve made purchases over time.
You may be keen on selling to an HR leader, but other personas could be involved in the decision-making process as well. For example, IT leaders should be looped in from the beginning in the EdTech sales process so they don’t get blindsided by a district’s decision to purchase new technology. They may have questions that differ significantly from other decision-makers so you need to anticipate their concerns before meeting with them.
Another common oversight is distinguishing personas solely on size. Additional datapoints like firmographics and behaviors are critical to record.
Consider the Following Questions:
- Is the district urban or suburban?
- Does the superintendent have a vision for change and improvement?
- What’s the district’s reputation?
- Do they have a tendency to be forward-thinking and innovative?
- What are their triggers and motivations?
- Where are they located?
- How many students?
3. Get Focused. Define and Package.
Does your existing pricing structure work? Is it optimized? Think about that for a moment…
Many EdTech startups realize a bit late in their selling season that they can’t turn a profit with the way that their products are currently priced. You can lose customers and potential buyers if the cost of your product is unreasonably high. On the other hand, you can risk a drop in revenue if your products are priced too low which will make it difficult to cover expenses and attract investors.
Pricing may seem subjective, but conducting a stress test can give a better sense of true customer sentiment. Assess the following points:
- Does your ICP consider your product reasonably priced for the pain point they’re trying to solve? (If you don’t know, ask them!)
- Are your existing customers renewing at the same price point?
These two points are strong indicators of how the market will respond.
4. Good, Better, Best. Packaging the Way Your Customer Buys.
One surefire way to reduce friction and win in the sales process is to provide tiers.
Tiers are a strong trick of the trade. If you’re going after new districts of varying sizes, you should have 2-3 different package offers; allowing them to scale up or down with what tools, benefits, and features make sense for their business right now.
Smaller buyers may not be ready to invest in an enterprise solution, so offering a more basic package could be a viable option for them until they’re ready to upgrade. Customers appreciate reasonable flexibility and not a one-size-fits-all solution.
5. Ready. Set. Expand.
When do you know it’s time to expand beyond your ICP?
When you’ve hit more than 30% market share, you can begin thinking about widening your reach…slowly.
If this sounds like you going into the upcoming sales season, the word of advice is to take it one standard deviation at a time when broadening.
Gather use cases to determine who else you can sell to and how you’d make them a happy customer. Winning an RFP for a district way outside of your ICP may not be the right move. Lean into use cases and research to decide if you have a chance at success in the new market.
6. Once You’ve Mapped It Out, Write it Down.
Hopefully, your wheels are spinning by now— lights are flickering on in your mind and you’re ready to hit the ground running. But let’s not forget one final step: write your strategy down. It’s not enough for this information to live in your head.
Put your personas, your ICP, their triggers, their pain points, use cases all into a concise document that can be handed off to any new sales rep during onboarding. This makes it easier to scale up your business when you’re ready. This guide will even speed up your sales cycle which builds credibility with your EdTech customers, letting them know you mean business.
With a playbook and documented measurements, you’ll have a sense of control over what your sales team is doing. If you have a CRM, this is where the real magic lies. Implement a weekly conversion meeting to see how your strategy is working and to identify what you can do differently. You can automate reports to deliver to key stakeholders at your business and you can conduct 30/60/90-day forecasting. All of this leads to an increased chance of successful outcomes.
Conclusion. Go Get ‘Em.
Structure your EdTech sales process so that you’re setting yourself up for the best chance of revenue growth.
Be as specific and intentional as possible with your sales strategy heading into your selling season. Once all of these pieces or in place, you’ll see major benefits in aiming your company and profitability forward.