Good vendors will learn who you are and what you need help with before making any attempt to sell their offerings.
Sharing a few tips for the vendors in the crowd…
1) Getting to Know You
Before anyone talks business, the discovery process (the cold, salesy lingo for getting to know you) should unearth tons of info about your district—and why wouldn’t it?
The age of information means that we freely share details about our lives via social media, websites, publications, and more. Doing due diligence before picking up the phone to talk or send an email sends an additional, subtler message: I care about your work.
2) Respecting Your Time
Even though their edtech is simply the best, and they’re so excited to speak to you, knowing the right time and place and atmosphere for a chat or update call matters. Likewise, setting and keeping plans for meetings shows a respect for the busy schedules of school administrators and product champions. If meetings are consistently missed or started late (even due to technical difficulties), it’s a red flag that your district ain’t nothing but a number.
On the other hand, when an urgent issue arises, how are support need handled? If automated voices shuffle your calls around (or worse, mysteriously drop the line and start the process over), know you deserve better.
3) Listening With Empathy
Quick quiz: Would you rather talk to a company rep who listened to understand, or listened to argue? Listening with empathy means the edtech pros put themselves in your shoes, the users who are in the software performing tasks daily. Tip-top user experience pros will agree: real, raw user feedback is invaluable.
The best way to achieve honest UX feedback is to listen without interrupting, correcting, or interfering at all. Empathy at its core means honoring the experience of someone else. An edtech vendor worth investing in long-term will make you feel heard, take diligent notes, and sincerely focus on helping solve the problem.
4) Asking for User Success Stories
Edtech vendors find purpose in helping users improve their day-to-day processes—telling those stories should be top of mind. What better way to prove efficacy than to showcase power users?
But these success stories walk a fine line between bragging up edtech and showing the results from users. The best stories err on the side of crediting people, and not necessarily the software.
5) Find out What They can do to Improve
The best time to improve is when you’re already doing well. All the communication, feedback, and requests for improvement from customers give vendors who listen a clear roadmap of where to grow.
Of course, edtech vendors have the choice to move in any direction. But once a partnership between user and vendor is struck, honoring the needs and priorities of users provides a shared route to success.
And an added bonus from me (KW): NEVER, EVER, send a “cold” calendar invite! There are few vendor behaviors I find more obnoxious than invading my calendar with an invitation from a vendor I never spoken with! That's an instant kick-em-to-the-curb for me.