Even when a school has bought from you before and been very happy with the purchase, that in itself is not a guarantee that they will buy from you again next time around.
Of course, we all hope that having made a successful purchase previously, the teacher or manager look up who they bought from and then place another order with you.
But if, just at that moment, another firm advertises a similar product or service at a similar price, they might be inclined to “give them a try,” and your sale is lost.
Obviously, this is not just a problem in selling to schools, but it is exacerbated in dealing with schools because of the number of teachers who might request a purchase, and the work overload in many school offices which can mean the easiest route to a purchase is followed.
One way around this is to create an email list of past purchasers, and email them regularly with updates, reminders and indeed news items relating to the type of products you sell. In this way, people who ordered remember exactly which company they bought from and perceive you as helpful and informative.
As an example of “helpful and informative information”, a publisher of history books might develop a list of interesting locations that teachers can visit with classes to enhance the understanding of the history being studied.
Such a list, which could be emailed to teachers or placed on a website which carries the publisher’s branding, simply reminds readers of that publisher and exists as a constant additional advertisement of its products.
But even if the company doesn’t want to go this far, building a list of past customers and emailing them regularly is something that should be done by all firms – and yet our research suggests that fewer than 15% of companies actively selling to schools do this.
The two most common reasons given for not actively promoting in this way is that the list of past customers is not available in a format that makes emailing easy, and that teachers will get annoyed if the company emails them all the time.
Of course, both objections can be overcome. If the list of past customers doesn’t exist it can be created from past invoices or, if that is not possible, steps can be taken to ensure the list starts being built from today (the income generated normally far exceeds any costs involved in the creating of the list).
And the simple fact is that teachers do not get annoyed if what they receive is varied and helpful, and consists of benefits rather than features or simple claims to be the best.
Building such a list and reaching past purchasers, as well as building a secondary website, is something we offer as part of our Velocity programme, and each is also something we can offer on a one-off basis.