Six Proven Ways to Grow your Edtech Business

Edtech Growth. I think of little else at the best of times, but have become even more preoccupied since working with Edspace and Emerge Education on a Business Breakfast Growth Series specifically for education start-ups. The idea is to combine business with breakfast and you can pick up a free ticket here.

The first speaker in the series was edtech growth guru and Satchel CEO, Naimish Gohil, who shared the sales and marketing approaches he’s used to sell his online learning platform into nearly half of all UK secondary schools.  Here are six of my favourite takeaways from Namish’s session:

    1. Use education specific terminology. If team members lack an education background, make sure they’re able to ‘talk the talk’ using accurate terminology. A knowledge of PPA, for instance, will make it easier for the business development team to schedule meetings or demos with K-12 educators in the UK. Relatedly, if you’re selling a KS4 or KS5 focused product, do you know how many of your prospects might now be benefitting from ‘gained time’?
    2. Get organised. Document your sales process, map your territories and use a CRM system from the outset. When meetings are cancelled (which happened 45% of the time in the early days of Satchel), be sure to follow up quickly to suggest alternative dates. Naimish points out that educators’ timetables tend to be rigid, so it’s often simplest to rearrange for the same time the following week while you’re still top of mind.
    3. Know your audience. Naimish talks about the importance of adopting an appropriately formal register when selling to senior leaders; for instance, using a salutation like ‘Mrs Healey’ or ‘Mr Patel’ rather than first names. This reminded me of an experienced principal at a recent tech founders’ event who commented on ‘all the scruffy people’! While I didn’t necessarily share this view, it was a reminder that the culture of an academic institution is often, though not always, rather more formal than the culture of an edtech start-up.
    4. Educate your prospects. Don’t obsess over sales, advises Naimish, but work on building trust in the early stages of a business relationship. Focus on informing your prospects and building excitement around your product. Without being pushy, paint an inclusive vision for the future, describe how your product will help and invite your prospects to share in this vision.
    5. Establish metrics but don’t obsess over them. Think about the sales cycle in relation to the academic year. With this in mind, make sure to plan seasonally appropriate marketing campaigns, ensuring that activities are compelling, and messaging is relevant. Ensure your targets are ambitious, but don’t measure them weekly.
    6. Get out of the office. There’s no substitute for live conversations, so make the most of opportunities to attend relevant tradeshows, sponsor grassroots events and visit prospects in their place of work. In the early days of Satchel, Naimish would attend around 75 events every year, trekking anywhere from Inverness to Southend to meet as many educators as possible.

As a long-time fan of Satchel (proof here), it was useful to learn from Naimish’s insights and find out exactly how he grew such an educationally credible and well-established brand in a relatively short time. Sharing is valuable and I’m always keen to learn from others in the edtech community, so let me know your thoughts.

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