3 common pain points for selling to schools

Selling and marketing to schools is a subtle science, because teachers and school leaders are less available than would-be customers in other sectors. If, by some miracle, a teacher finds themselves with a few spare minutes for a break, they are far from likely to want to spend it reading marketing materials or taking a sales call.

But you've got a great product - something that you believe will help teachers to improve outcomes and life chances for their pupils. So how can you get the message through to them? The key is in understanding their pain points, and creating content that answers them. If you want to get to the top of the reading list for teachers and school leaders, then start focusing your marketing content on these pain points.

1 Budget

This is a big one, and one of the most common objections faced by our clients. In 2018, school funding in the UK is at it's highest level yet in terms of the number of pounds in the budget. But inflation and increasing pupil numbers mean that per-pupil funding has actually fallen, and school budgets are more stretched than ever.

To start creating content that answers this pain point, consider your best customers. Have they saved money over time from choosing your product or service over others? It may be that your competitors are cheaper to buy from initially - but does your product have a better shelf-life than the alternatives?

The difficulty here is that decision makers tend to receive their budget one year at a time, so they may need some convincing to make a more long-term investment. If budget is the last objection to overcome, then content likely to resonate here are case studies, savings calculators and blog posts offering advice on how schools can make budgets stretch further.

2 Time

The most recent survey on teacher workload by the Department for Education revealed that teachers are working an average of 54.5 hours a week. When it comes to selling to schools, there are two things to consider around time:

1) If you have a product that will genuinely save schools time, they'll be interested

2) Teachers don't have time to be sold to

How can you get around this chicken-and-egg scenario?

1 Start saving teachers and schools time before they are your customers.

Regularly offer free content and resources to help teachers to save time, and you'll be top of the class when they are ready to make a purchase. This is a win-win: if you've got any handy templates, free printable resources or useful video content that will help teachers to save time, then these can be used as lead magnets to attract more leads and customers to your website.

2 Be prepared to play the long game

Selling to schools requires patience. Depending on the nature of your product or service, you may need to go through months or even years of nurturing a relationship with a school before they make the decision to purchase. Is this investment worthwhile? If the lifetime value of the customer is greater than the cost of acquiring them, then yes, it is absolutely worth the investment.

3 Make it super quick and easy to purchase your product

Don't lose a would-be buyer at the final hurdle because you have an overly complicated purchasing process. Make it as easy as possible for budget holders to seal the deal. This may mean that you will need to be prepared to be more flexible to suit each school's process for purchasing products. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Requiring a form to be filled in
  • Outdated and time-consuming processes (e.g. having to print, fax or post an order form)
  • Requiring a purchase order number
  • Only accepting one form of payment

Once you've got a 'yes' in principal, we would suggest asking the customer what their school's process is for purchasing from new suppliers, and if there is anything you can do to help them to save time with this process.

3 External pressure

Whilst facing budget cuts, curriculum changes, staff shortages and growing class sizes, schools are still expected to deliver results. School leaders are accountable to inspection bodies such as Ofsted and the ISI, the governing body and of course parents to show how they are improving outcomes for pupils.

The best content to answer this pain point will really depend on what stage of the buyer's journey your customer persona is in.

If all you are trying to do is create awareness of your brand or product at this stage, then you should offer shorter, useful pieces of content that can be easily downloaded and adapted. High-performing pieces of content include calendars, conversation starters for staff training sessions, powerpoints or handouts and short video clips.

If you're planning a consideration stage campaign, then try a white paper sharing your research in order to establish your brand as an authority.

If you are targeting school leaders in the decision stage, then a strong case study or some powerful stats showing how your product has measurably impacted on pupil progress will resonate the most.

Whatever you do, make sure everyone is winning

However you choose to market to schools, always ask yourself this:

  • Are you offering something of genuine value ?
  • Are you getting something of value in return?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, then it may be time to re-consider your approach. If you’re not sure how best to reach more schools and teachers, then why not book a free Selling to Schools Assessment? Our free 30-minute assessment will help you evaluate the success of your current marketing-to-schools strategy, and give you the answers you need to help you plan your next steps. 

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