The fact is, education executives are being hammered by no less than hundreds if not thousands of reps targeting them to sell all kinds of Ed-tech.  The problem is they all want a “relationship” and are really just drive-by-shooters.  How can you have a relationship when, most of the time, you or your team is selling a one-off product and won’t be back around until next year’s subscription renewal?  Or not ever? 

It’s better to be politely professional, to want the transaction for the sake of what it will do for the client, not because you are being a fakery of a “best-friend” to get it. People can smell that from a mile away. So don’t be offensive.

Worse than that, manners might be out. Take for example the simple factor of poor grammar and even bad punctuation in emails. This is the current form for your standard sales letter (remember how professional those were expected to be?) Did no one tell your reps that they should have a common signature with your logo?  That what they say is a reflection of the company?  That asking things like “are you qualified to purchase my product” are offensive? That the “interesting” little twaddle quotes from their favorite animated character under their signature are poor professional form? Or, that ALL CAPS are distracting and look like SHOUTING?

A sales rep needs to know what is most helpful is to get to the point with an offer and ask.

What’s intensely interesting about the education marketplace is that it frequently hires a lot of former teachers. These teachers know education, but they typically are not given real sales training.  They are pushed out there to take aim and frequently miss their targets because they just don’t know basic sales technique. 

It’s a shame because most of them are good people with purpose and passion in their hearts.

The 11 sales wisdoms:

Basic sales wisdom historically has been this:

1) Research the prospect.  Selling is 60 percent listening and 40 percent talking.

There’s a ton of data on schools right on their websites.  Why are reps asking so many mundane questions?  Why don’t they go in asking relevant questions so that they can talk at all?  Otherwise, they spend the entire single-chance call they might ever get collecting a lot of data and never get to the pitch. And they’ve wasted the prospects time, which besides being offensive, is disrespectful to a busy education executive’s time.  Good “listening” today is 50% prior web research.

2) Don’t blather on.

Just tell people the simple things – why to buy/work with your company over anyone else, and what’s the offer of the day. That’s it.  If you blather on you lose people. 

3) Care about the customer.

That’s what any prospective customer is doing, caring about themselves and their institution, so being on their side immediately gets you traction.  That’s one thing that prior-educators are fantastically good at. Their empathy is their best value and trait.

4) Ask.

You have to ask for what you want, and if you don’t at least do that, you’ll never get it. You can’t get what you don’t ask for. 

5) Don’t tell everything.

You don’t need three hour meetings to disclose every little thing. If you have a website, let it do its work for you.  Marketing is supposed to help with framing up who the company is and the general gist of products.  You just point out highlights.  People are already Googling you.

6) Disagree with the idea that selling is all about relationship-building.

It’s not.  You have to have a product-fit that means something.  If you’ve tried to cram something that’s really not useful to a school district, you have abused your relationship and it will go away anyway.  The idea of a “relationship” in today’s time-constrained world needs to be re-framed as “professionalism.”  If you are always professional, that’s the way to win confidence and therefore close sales. 

7) Aim super high. 

Being wimpy about what can be made to happen with a prospective account is a sign that the sales person isn’t a dreamer.  You have to be a dreamer to be a salesperson.  You have to have the will to literally smile things into being true.  If you have management that continually strives for “accurate pipeline,” well you can always sand-bag (also known as low-balling.)  But you gotta dream big, and make believe all the time in bigness all around you and that it is really, really real and will happen or you are doomed from the start.  If you don’t aim high you will never even get the lowest hanging fruit.  Want the whole orchard and you just might get it. 

8) Disagree.

People don’t call you back.  They don’t answer email.  They seem lifeless and distant.  If you believe that and do not decide to just disagree with the pervading apathy of non-communication and make an answer happen anyway, well you’re done.  You will fail utterly.  Start with “I disagree” every day and magic will happen.

9) Be important. 

Just because you’re three or ten steps down from the CEO doesn’t mean you’re supremely unimportant to the outside world of prospects.  You represent something and when you decide you are important, you are.  People will take your call. 

10) A critical element of sales is persistence

If you stick with it, send reminders, send useful information, and keep being of use and putting the idea of purchase there consistently, you will win sales.  If you fail to be of use, and are merely whipping by without any real hard work or caring, you will lose.  Persistence is about keeping with it, but the real secret of persistence is a sort of toggling back and forth between ideas thrown over to win interest and maneuvers about how to get into an account, how to “break in” by somehow finding a way to someone who will champion your brand or your idea.

11) Therefore, creativity is the real pinnacle of the top-most sales people. 

Sales creativity: figuring out the prospects organizational chart, the drivers of each person on it, how your product fits and will help them and how to angle it and prove it – oh, those are the real hallmarks of a fantastic sales person.  That’s miles above mere manners and good etiquette. That’s a gift.  More importantly, the prospect knows that they are dealing with someone who has some ingenuity, some drive.  They think to themselves, “I can use that to my benefit.”  So they do business with that person, saying to themselves that they trust the person who has enough smarts to get to them, and who will probably keep being pushy even on their behalf within the company they are representing. That’s pure sales gold. For both sides. 

Be that Ed-Tech sales person and win your company more business.