This post is about the question I am undoubtedly asked the most by large and small businesses alike: how do I reach the right person? Everyone wants to be able to get an audience with the elusive ‘decision maker’ and it still remains one of the most difficult challenges facing growing businesses.
The reality is that, within education, the actual name of whichever person you are trying to contact (be that an Assistant Head at the local secondary school or an Assistant Director of Children’s Services at a local authority) is usually quite easy to find. The real question is not how to ‘reach’ them, but how to engage with them. These are my top tips for engaging the right person to help drive your business.
Do your research
Due to the nature of the education landscape, contact names within schools, academies and local government can almost always be found either with a bit of online research or by putting in a phone call to the relevant organisation. A lot of info can be gleaned from DfE lists (although I would double-check the details as this goes out of date quickly) and there are lots of companies who will provide data for you. Spending time on getting the right contact details will not only increase your success rate, but also present a professional and credible image for your company.
Approach your contacts in the right way
Much as we would like it to, cold-calling and traditional telesales campaigns rarely work when it comes to reaching high-level decision makers in the education market. Ultimately the people you are trying to contact are unlikely to ever be in a position to answer the phone to an unknown outside organisation. They are more likely to be busy with teaching and pastoral duties, dealing with parents and working with the SLT. However, our research shows that these decision makers do make time to go through their email and open their addressed post so it’s likely that first contact made in this way is likely to have a greater impact.
Say something that’s relevant to them
All too often I see letter and email campaigns based around how good a company’s product or service is which implores the decision maker to find out more. In reality, the way in which your solution works is never going to create engagement with the high level contact you’re trying to reach as, while its important to you, it’s unlikely to be important to them. Think about what is on their mind, what’s keeping them awake at night. For example, a school may be having a particular issue with truancy; as a result the Assistant Head may be looking for something which helps ensure that school is safeguarding children.
Ultimately, if your campaign shows that you understand what’s important to them and, better still, articulates how your solution will help with the issue (the ‘value proposition’ which I will cover in another post) then you have a far better chance of engaging with the right person and creating a meaningful relationship.
Good luck and be patient; it is possible to reach the magical ‘decision makers’ but it takes a bit of planning and a lot of effort!