Beyond Lead Generation: The New Rules of School Sales
Shaping the Future of EdTech with Smart, Strategic Sales
With that Summer breathing space, and hopefully a nice holiday under your belt, now is the time to think strategically about your company’s growth.
“How do I generate more leads?” is always top of mind, but your ability to nurture the leads you do generate is equally important.
There’s 2 reasons why I say this:
1. Discerning Audience: Schools and teachers have become more selective in their engagement. The decision-makers today are digitally savvy and spend significant time researching providers.
2. Marketing Complexity: Single touchpoint events such as a big tradeshow or a cold email campaign, that might have worked in times gone by are not enough today. Many EdTechs try these only to see little to no ROI.
🚙 The School Buying Journey
Understanding the process of how schools buy significantly improves how quickly you can grow.
This journey can be divided into 3 key stages, each corresponding to the school’s level of awareness and intent:
Top of the Funnel (ToFu): Awareness stage where schools recognise a problem and seek information.
Middle of the Funnel (MoFu): Schools evaluate various solutions, comparing features and benefits.
Bottom of the Funnel (BoF): Decision stage where specifics like pricing and implementation are considered.
The funnel visualisation emphasises the fact that not every initial lead will result in a sale. As schools move through the funnel, some naturally drop out or delay their buying decision, which is why the funnel narrows toward the bottom.
If you’re looking for some fresh ways to engage schools, get a copy of my Marketing Playbook by sharing this email with someone below.
🥇 “Ok, nice theory, but I want only want the BEST leads!”
Speaking with EdTechs over the past 6 months, a common theme that comes up is that they want ‘better’ leads - essentially schools that sit a demo and buy their product.
This makes perfect sense, but there’s a problem - everyone else is looking for these same schools and there are very few of them around.
This one might shock you… when a school books a demo, the majority of schools are in research mode, yet most EdTechs think this is a buying meeting. Unconsciously, the expectations are mismatched and it often leaves the EdTech frustrated. Lots of demos given for only a few sales in the bag.
It’s really useful to be able to tell Top of Funnel Leads (research mode) from Bottom of the Funnel (buying mode) leads. There are a few things to look out for:
School is Already Educated: They have a good understanding of their problem or need and have researched potential solutions.
School Knows the Market: They're familiar with various options in the market and might have even interacted with a few of them.
Asking about Setup / Support: Queries revolving around final details like implementation, guarantees, or support are a good sign they’re close to a decision.
⛔️ Why an Overemphasis on BoF Leads Becomes an Issue
Neglects Brand Awareness: Focusing only on immediate conversions leads to missing out on building long-term brand identity. You see this play out in how many organic leads you generate as time goes by. With every term that passes, you should experience more schools reaching out directly to enquire about your product.
Overlooked, Larger Audience: BoFu usually represents a small fraction (often just 10%) of the total potential customers. You’re missing about 90% of potential schools who might have bought from you.
Limited Long-Term Growth: Without cultivating a wider customer base, long-term growth becomes difficult. I’ve termed this the ‘500 school problem’ - many small EdTechs struggle to break through 500 customers as they’ve maxed out all the available BoFu leads in their area.
Product Dev Issues: Fast converting BoFu leads often buy to resolve an immediate and significant pain point. Products that solve immediate pain points are good, but you have to ensure that enough schools share the problem. You see this particularly in curriculum products which are brought in to solve specific issues (certain group of students, certain year group, certain staff) and fail to gain wider adoption. Churn rates are high in these situations.
💪 Have your best year yet!
If you want help making this upcoming school year your biggest yet, we can work together from just £99 per month.
That’s 13 years of experience working at a number of the fastest growing, highest performing EdTechs in the UK.
In addition, I’ve built 2 EdTechs of my own from humble bootstrapped beginnings.
⚖️ The Importance of a Balanced Funnel Approach
Future-Proofing: Companies that invest in all funnel stages ensure a steady stream of potential customers because you’ve cast not only a wider net, but multiple nets.
Diversified Audience: Engaging with prospects at different stages helps companies cater to various needs and segments. This ensures your product develops to have the largest possible market.
Building Loyalty: Early engagement can foster loyalty, leading to better customer retention. The best performing EdTechs have retention rates of 90%+ per year, but the market average is closer to 70%.
👨🏫 The Rule of 7 and Beyond
Schools, being conservative and risk-averse, require multiple (at least 7 but ideally more) touchpoints with your brand before they’ll feel confident enough to make a purchase.
The more touchpoints you have, the more reliably and faster you can nurture a prospective school from a lead to a customer.
What happens when you don’t have enough touchpoints?
The school gets stuck - they can’t progress through the sales funnel because you’re not providing them with enough information or valuable content to give them confidence.
Common scenario: You gave a school what felt like a great demo and then never heard from them again.
It’s frustrating, but now think about what number touch point that was for the school. For most EdTech companies, the demo is usually only the 2nd or 3rd interaction meaning they’re still ToFu.
Knowing that 7 is the minimum number of touchpoints you’re looking to hit, you’re going to need 5 more ways to engage the school and continue nurturing them.
🎬 Getting Started with Lead Nurturing:
I like to build customer journeys that typically have 3 touch points per stage. In total this gives 9 repeatable touchpoints.
The key takeaways are:
Invest in Content: Creating valuable content, whether that’s written, audio, visual or live events is no longer a nice to have, it’s a necessity in EdTech.
Setup Systems and Processes: Investing in the right technology will help you automate and systemise the school journey from prospect to customer.
Engage in Community Building: Form partnerships, hold events, and become a thought leader in your niche. There are more than 2,000 companies operating in the UK school market, so standing out from the crowd becomes harder each year.
Leverage Retargeting Strategies: Convert top and middle funnel leads through retargeting ads and email campaigns. If you give a school a demo or trial and they don’t sign up, they should go into a remarketing campaign so you get a 2nd chance with them.
Adopt a Long-Term Vision: While quick wins are essential, balance short-term goals with a sustainable growth strategy.
How was today's article?
As always, thanks for making it to the bottom and hoped you enjoyed it! It was a long one today, thanks for hanging in there.
Best regards, Jay