During the pandemic, there was increased demand for education technology (EdTech) to support teachers, students and parents. While schools have returned to in-person learning, how edtech companies sell to schools and districts has significantly changed.
When evaluating the larger buying landscape, more than 75% of buyers and sellers now want a digital engagement. Plus, the number of buyers involved in the buying decision can range from 11 to as many as 20 according to Gartner.
In our webinar, Navigating the New Reality of Remote Selling in EdTech, our expert panelists tackled the new education selling climate.
- Adam Pearson, Co-founder, Enable Us
- Gauthier Philippart, Co-founder and CEO, Actionaly
- Nicole Pezent, Co-founder and CEO, Glimpse K12
- Matt Coats, Director of Enterprise Partnerships, SchoolMint
- Introduction and Overview of Selling Landscape
- 06:25: How has this changed selling to schools and districts?
- 10:50: What tips and best practices do you have?
- 16:50: How do you leverage technology in your sales process?
- 23:15: How has this impacted your content strategy to accelerate sales?
- 25:40: How do these technologies help accelerate your sales cycle?
- 35:10: How do you look at upselling opportunities?
- 38:30: How does this increase sales effectiveness or productivity?
- 42:40: What is the typical sales process and buying cycle for education?
- 46:45: Final tips for remote selling in education?
Education Selling Climate
Adam kicked off the webinar by reviewing the key factors impacting the education selling climate:
- COVID-funding relief funds expiring - Edtech companies will see more competition for budget dollars as the industry returns to the traditional district selling process
- Committee-based decision making - education involves a committee of buyers that includes a range of decisions makers or influencers within the school and district
- Lengthy sales cycle - in combination with the above points and budget cycles, a sale can take months to close
- Shift from in-person to digital selling and buying - finally, buyers are seeing the benefits of remote selling which allow organizations to scale their sales efforts. However, the in-person relationship is reduced significantly as a result.
Nicole started the discussion by highlighting how educators are facing different things every day. In addition to becoming accustomed to doing business with Zoom, they’re having to sift through more products.
The other consideration is the level of stress and burn out that administrators are experiencing right now. Consequently, Matt explained that it’s getting more difficult to capture their attention, especially when you don’t have that ability to meet face-to-face.
One tip that Gauthier provided was “being able to condense what’s relevant for them [buyers] in a way that is really specific to them and to stand out” against all the noise.
Share Tips and Best Practices
Our panelists agreed that finding ways to stand out is key. According to Matt, “Personalizing everything that is possible. We record all of our meetings. We have a place now with Enable Us to put all of our content, so our buyers feel really well organized and they didn't have to do anything to feel that level of organization. That’s been a huge benefit for us.”
This is especially true with committee buying - how do you maintain the continuity of communication and content amongst all the buyers. For the panelists, a digital sales room (DSR) helps resolve this issue. Gauthier added that content is tailored to what’s been discussed and their pain points. And when in-person meetings return, the deal room acts as a mechanism to bring everything together with consistent messaging.
Moreover, it has significantly impacted the marketing strategy for SchoolMint, a leading school platform for trusted, student-centric experiences. Content can be shared with prospects before calls, enabling stakeholders to review and ask questions beforehand. Now, their sales conversations can cover more in-depth topics versus an overview of basic features. “We have front loaded a lot more of these [buying] conversations and we haven't had that ability before with just a simple website,” added Matt.
In the end, Gauthier emphasized that the goal is to make the job easier for buyers, especially for district-level buyers.
How do you accelerate the sales cycle?
For Nicole, there are two components - how to manage the sales process workflow and how to keep clients organized so they’re engaged with sellers on the next steps. Oftentimes, a district may go dark because they’re unsure where they are in the buying process. Setting up this process, with the help of a digital sales room, has helped Glimpse K12, an academic resource management provider, in their selling.
“Looking at the analytics coming from Enable Us, and that they engage with that content but it doesn't get lost again. That has really helped our sales process as far as speeding it up and kind of keeping the momentum and keeping them in play,” explained Nicole.
Understanding buyer’s level of engagement with content also helps to reduce the sales cycle according to Matt. For example, stakeholders review product videos based on how a teacher or administrator will use the solution. The conversation turns from product education to pricing, and in some situations, to completing an order form.
While this may not have necessarily accelerated deal velocity, Gauthier pointed out the increased transparency that digital sales room provides. “Before it was a black box,” explained Gauthier. “Now I have those trigger points to know when to quickly and briefly reconnect with stakeholders.” This increases the sales team’s confidence to know how the deal is progressing and status.
For Matt, having insight into engagement helps the sales team “better focus their time and attention on more serious opportunities.” This has provided the biggest sales efficiency lift within his organization.
Digital Sales Rooms Support Up-Selling Opportunities
Actionaly is a family relation management platform with many partners. For Gauthier, when a new partner is added, such as a behavior health assessment, the challenge is educating the entire client base about this new offering. With a digital sales room, they can update an existing sales room, or even create a specific one, for those stakeholders. Gauthier explained, “It’s a continuing education of the decision maker. This can be for renewals or also for onboarding as you're moving from the sales to the customer phase.”
As a single source of truth for the interactions and shared content with customers, Matt added that the DSR provides total transparency for customer success. This creates continuity from the sales to implementation.
Increasing Sales Effectiveness and Productivity
One pain point that many sales and marketing organizations encounter is understanding what content is helping to drive the buying process. For Glimpse K12, the content library and insights helped streamline the process. “For sales management and marketing management and then also the actual sales team, we can get this into the place with a library and create rooms that consistently push that buyer to the next step and not have to recreate the wheel every time,” stated Nicole.
Adding to this, Matt highlighted how search results have bridged the gap between sales and marketing for content development. By viewing the search results and content trends, the marketing team has “been able to stay ahead of when our our sellers need new pieces of content around different topics”
Final Remote Selling Tips
Concluding the webinar, Adam asked each of the panelists to provide their one tip to edtech providers for remote selling.
For Nicole, she highlighted the importance of transparency and trust with customers. Consider how the client wants to be sold to, such as helping them and their stakeholders through the process.
Guathier emphasized, “Presenting the product through the lens of a digital citizen.” By providing a link to a digital space, clients can “own” the experience. A single place that provides consistent education that champions can share with their peers, while making their jobs easier.
Matt concluded by underscoring the importance of personalization. A tailored welcome message conveys that he’s listening, while shepherding the conversation through the process. While it may take more time, for Matt, the impact is significant and transforms the buying experience.