From 2015 to 2017 EdSurge ran a service to help schools evaluate which technology tools and products best fit their needs. Over the course of eight quarters they supported 185 independent, public and charter schools and districts in finding solutions for their technology needs.
What they found is that all edtech is not created equal. Although the majority of solutions are needed during the spring and summer, schools and teachers are looking at technology solutions at different times throughout the year. For instance, although only 27% of total needs were identified in winter, 44% of Learning Management System (LMS) needs came in that season. The same goes for summer – only 30% of needs were identified in summer, but 38% of curriculum needs and 50% of professional development need identification happened then. Winter and fall accounted for 42% of all needs, but 60% of all assessment needs.
The other factor, of course, is the school budgeting and spending calendar. At the end of each school year and over the summer, administrators start assessing what went well in the previous year and what changes could be made for the following year. This usually covers everything from staff and programs to materials and technology. From June – October goal setting begins based on the data gathered during the needs assessment phase. From November – February schools and districts start gathering information from various vendors, typically beginning in late October or early November and continuing through to February. The research portion takes place from February – April, when schools are comparing different products and preparing to make a decision for what’s the best fit for their school. Finally, purchasing usually takes place in the summer (May-July) so that it is ready to be implemented when the new school year begins.
With these new insights from EdSurge, there are more reasons to sell across seasons than ever. For example, your product or service won’t get as easily lost in the fray during the rush times and will reach teachers and administrators right when they’re thinking about ways to invest in a particular category. Plus, education spending happens throughout the year, with certain funds coming available at different times. Some schools also have a “use it or lose it” funding situation and could be looking for products to purchase with overflow spending in the early spring. Another benefit of pitching year-round is that you may be able to get in touch with a busy key contact that otherwise wouldn’t be available, and if you can pitch them a great product or service that really speaks to them, they will remember you when funds become available.
Have you tried selling off-cycle? What successes and challenges have you faced?