Sales & Marketing Insights

Engaging District Technology Leaders: 5 Things You Need to Know

Advice from one marketer to another
May 01, 2023 2 min read
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Ask any district leader, and they’ll tell you that ed-tech is more important than ever. The pandemic brought ed-tech tools and platforms to the forefront and EdWeek survey data indicates that increased reliance on ed-tech will likely continue.

So what do you need to keep in mind when working with district technology leaders if you want to gain their business?

1. District tech leaders are familiar with what goes on inside classrooms.

When building relationships with district tech leaders, it’s important to understand their professional backgrounds and the roles they play in their districts. According to EdWeek Market Brief, 60% of district tech leaders were teachers before their technology jobs in the district (only 16% came from a job in the private sector). Today’s district tech leaders’ titles include Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO), IT Director, IT Manager, IT Specialist, IT Coordinator, and Instructional Technologist.

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2. Don’t underestimate their influence on district purchasing decisions.

The roles of district cabinet members are often misunderstood. While 55% of superintendents are the prime decision makers when it comes to technology purchases, as many as 43% of senior district technology officers (often the CTO) lead these purchasing decisions. And even if they aren’t the final decision makers, tech leaders are the top influencers in technology purchases 51% of the time.

3. Gaining internal consensus is key.

The decision to use school funds to make a technology purchase is increasingly a team effort involving leaders at every level. In fact, 26% of tech leaders say that teacher and administrator buy-in is their greatest professional challenge, other than budget. It’s important to equip district tech leaders with tools such as case studies and efficacy data that help leaders get buy-in from colleagues in other departments who might be less tech-savvy.

4. Be mindful of changing priorities.

Many districts make their mission statements, goals, and objectives easily accessible. Doing some research can help your sales team understand how your solutions can assist a district in reaching its goals. In recent years, professional development, STEM instruction materials, IT hardware and infrastructure, personalized learning, and assessment tools have been top priorities for K-12 district leaders. In addition, 22% of tech leaders say their district’s most urgent challenge is improving student motivation and engagement.

5. Avoid these common pitfalls.

Your communication with district tech leaders should proactively address what K-12 leaders consider the top barriers to successful technology purchases: Lack of evidence or information about the effectiveness of a product, high costs beyond the reach of the district for ed-tech tools, and the realization that many ed-tech tools already in schools are not being used at all.

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