Adapting Sales to the K-12 Buying Cycle
Ed Kisman, Advisor, Forward Thinking EDU
As we enter the dog days of summer, some of us our planning a vacation, tackling a home renovation project, or attending /exhibiting at a conference or trade show. And some organizations are in the throes of summer implementations. Last, there is a small minority of vendors that are getting ready for the upcoming school year, which kicks off in August in most states.
When I was asked to write this blog, I immediately thought of companies I partnered within the K-12 space and the challenges they had in alignment of the K-12 buying cycle with their sales cycle. By this I mean most schools operate on an August-to-June budget year; while most K-12 companies operate on a physical calendar year.
The challenge for many companies is the timing of a school’s buying habit to be in alignment with a company’s revenue budget. In many cases, there is a disconnect and shortfall of expectations. The disconnect often falls onto the selling cycle of a sales team.
Understanding the K-12 Buying Cycle K-12 has a buying cycle that is specific in purchasing considerations, spending time frames, and implementations. The K-12 buying cycle for the new year begins in August/September and runs through the end of June the following year. Most K-12 vendor companies operate on a calendar year – January to December. This can be challenging if a company cannot be flexible and align their sales cycle to the K-12 buying cycle. Successful K-12 vendors have learned to be proactive and adapt their solution to the buy cycle of their K-12 customer base. This adaptation benefits both the seller and buyer in anticipating, meeting, and planning for both short-term and long-term needs. Positioning your solution ahead of a need or a competitor is like playing a game of chess!
Many companies that have a toe in the K-12 space will not be open to changing their revenue cycle because K-12 is a small percentage of their global sales revenue. In many cases these divisions suffer and falter in consistent sales growth.
Factors to Consider When Selling in the K-12 Space To adapt to the K-12 buying cycle, keep in mind the following:
The school year ends June 31st and the company fiscal year is December 31st. There is a 6-month revenue gap if not planned for in advance.
Consider how a sales teams meets its Q3 quota objectives when schools are closed or on reduced staff.
Many organizations add or make changes to their sales organization in Q1 to meet their physical year budget projections; however, if the sales team is new and is fresh from training, you are setting them up to fail if your sales cycle and new hire quota expectations are not in alignment with the K-12 buying cycle.
Most successful companies hire in August/September to be geared up for the new year K-12 buying cycle.
Special funding and grants can play havoc during the school year and play a key role in timing of buying.
K-12 Buying / Sales Cycle
It’s Summer So What Can I Do? As most successful K12 companies know, the summer is a time to regroup, build new relationships, and expand current relationships. Districts are open however Admin schedules fluctuate due to summer vacation. Schools are often open for only ½ day and the principals do not have a fixed schedule during this time.
If your solution requires onsite implementation, this may be a good time to meet the IT Director, facility people, and the end user of your solution. This is also a great opportunity for new hire training and/or mentoring.
Some sales organizations are retrenching and getting ready for their August sales meetings while others are attending conferences. Executive management teams are wordsmithing their product awareness for the upcoming email onslaught, while many schools are looking at all the unused piled up programs and solutions they bought, but haven’t installed or used!
So while your laying on the beach relaxing, be aware the K-12 buying cycle is fast approaching and the selling season is around the corner.
Regardless, if you are on a school year budget or physical calendar year budget you need to understand the relationship between K-12 school/district buying cycle before you turn your flip-flops in for your sales kit!
Now is the time to plan and prepare for the Fall/Spring selling season. Contact the Forward Thinking EDUteam to learn how you can better focus your sales effort in the education markets.