The Power of Teachers as Influencers in the Sales Cycle
I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, then you’re in edtech sales, marketing, or maybe even product development. So, let’s start with the basic question. Do you think teachers play a role in influencing the buying decision for your product or solution?
While teachers may not have the ability to sign on the dotted line of a PO for district- or school-wide curriculum purchases, they do have the power to influence them. Teachers have far more interaction with students throughout the school day than anyone else.
Teachers know their standards and what curriculum needs to be taught in their classroom. They know if a child has IEP accommodations and what resources the school has to meet each child’s needs. Teachers know what technology they have access to—or what they wish they had access to—and whether or not it’s worth their time to use based on the software or hardware being overly complicated to learn and/or manage. Teachers are aware of the data that drives decision-making in their schools and classrooms. They know the social-emotional aspects that go into helping children feel safe in an environment that is conducive to learning. They hold parent-teacher conferences and get to hear from parents and the community at large. They may even be members of the PTA. And so much more.
This makes a teacher’s voice both valuable and powerful when it comes to determining curriculum needs—and ultimately influencing the sale.
Messaging and Positioning
As an edtech provider, it’s crucial that you don’t overlook the power of teachers’ voice and their influence during your strategic planning. Often, software developers (not to mention sales and marketing folks) leave teachers out of the conversation and messaging because they’re most often not the official decision-makers or purchasers of their software. However, in most cases, teachers are the primary end user and, therefore, decision-makers seek their opinion and feedback before a purchase is made.
If you’re offering pilot programs, teachers are usually brought in to use and evaluate your product, which makes their voice exponentially louder. They’ll be implementing your product to determine whether or not it is a viable solution for their classrooms—and their feedback goes straight to the decision-makers.
In the edtech industry, solutions are typically designed to enhance learning and instruction. If your product has been developed to enhance the lives of students, teachers, and the school as a whole, it pays to not only consider teachers in your messaging, but also in the development of your product. You should continually ask yourself, “Is this tool helping teachers and students, or making more work for them?” Teachers today have more on their plates than ever before, so it’s critical that the solution you’re creating helps resolve a pain point…or ten!
Often, teachers have to manage more students than is ideal, including English language learners and students with disabilities, medical conditions, ADHD, and more. If they can’t use your tool to help manage their students or deliver instruction more effectively or efficiently, then they’ll see no value in it. From development to execution and everywhere in between, make sure you’re not only keeping students in mind, but the teachers as well.
There are five key aspects to keep in mind when it comes to the topic of technology and teachers. Teachers will be loyal users if you take the time to understand their needs, and can share how your solution will help them accomplish what is required of them.
- First and foremost, teachers can never be replaced by technology. Teachers will always have a critical role in delivering instruction and providing safe environments conducive to learning and the social-emotional well-being of students. They are the experts. Make sure the messaging of your edtech product relays this.
- Demonstrate how your technology solution enhances instruction, assists in helping students grow and develop, and can make classrooms run like well-oiled machines.
- Some teachers can feel that technology is too challenging, so they won’t even bother. They need to hear and see that the tool is easy and that if they invest time into learning it, that you’re going to be around long enough for it to be worth their effort. This is also why teachers sometimes fear start-up companies and prefer using tools from long-time developers. So, if you’re a start-up company, you should tout your awards, research, evidence, and references so they know you’re in it for the long haul.
- Regardless of their job, no one will use a product if they don’t understand how to use it. Professional development plays a key role in product buy-in and implementing a product with fidelity. Therefore, make sure you have a variety of professional development support offerings to meet the diverse needs of audiences, budget, and time constraints. This can include tutorials, how-to videos, FAQs, live chat systems, dedicated email correspondents, webinars, virtual trainings, on-site trainings, and any combination of these.
- Tech-savvy teachers are also powerful influencers on Twitter, Instagram, and other social channels. If they like your product, they’re willing to tell all their friends! Find ways to engage teachers in the conversation and work closely with them. Because at the end of the day, the reason we work in education is really about supporting teachers, administrators, and students, right?