Selling to Schools
Did you know that schools(K-12) in the United States spend more than $100 billion each year?
If you are currently selling to school districts, then you probably know that a bulk of their spending happens during the summer months. When students are enjoying a holiday break, educational institutions go into a buying frenzy when they receive their new budget on July 1st. This date is important because you will want to have your product or service as a line item for upcoming expenditures. We recommend to start reaching out 3-6 months prior to the fiscal year, allowing time for you to share how your company can help school districts. If you are reading this article in June, there is also a little secret called “use it or lose it” funds that we’ll share later in the article.
Schools purchase everything from projectors to pizza! If you sell audio visual equipment, landscaping services, promotional products, catering services, led lighting, cleaning products, iPad cases….really anything at all, you should be prospecting local schools in your area.
Most companies want to start at the top of the organization by contacting the Superintendent. You should know this position is responsible for overseeing high level projects and they will delegate day-to-day decisions to a Business Manager that works closely with the procurement department. If you know someone that is a teacher, this would be a good starting point for providing an introduction to the appropriate people who are responsible for buying what you sell. The more people you bring into the process, the more likely you are to win a deal.
Now we move on “lose it or use it” funds. This is a slang term used to describe when an agency has money to spend before the new fiscal year begins. If an agency(ie..school) does not spend the money they have, then in theory the agency could operate with less funds the following year. Imagine if you gave your child a $10 weekly allowance and next week you took any money back that they did not spend. You know your kid would find a way to spend the full $10 instead of giving it back. They would buy a slice of pizza, download songs from iTunes, or purchase extra rounds of Candy Crush. It was their money to spend and the same principle applies to a government budget.
Make sure you are in contact with schools in your area towards the end of June, seeing if they have any discretionary budget to get some of those products or services on their wish list!!
Don’t forget to call your local districts today and start making relationships, not just sending emails. :)