Never ever send a quote by email to a school. Are we serious?!! Well, we are half serious. We knew we needed a catchy heading to grab your attention. The reality is that you will need to eventually email through a quote to the school but this should never be your only connection point with a school.

Schools are vastly different to any other organisation and, by just emailing a quote, you are radically dropping the chances of them accepting your quote. Whether you are quoting them on stationery, textbooks, a new astro, or plumbing services – there are certain principles that apply to schools that show that they need more than just an email.

To understand this, let’s break down why schools need more than just an email quote:

1. Schools are risk-averse.
Schools build trust slowly and want to know that you will be able to service their need. You might be radically cheaper than a competing company but, if they don’t know you, they will be unsure if you will deliver on time, fulfill the work requirement, etc. It is incredibly difficult for schools to feel like they can trust you from an email.

2. The person you are emailing is often not the decision-maker.
Someone may request a quote on behalf of the headmaster, for example. And, by not speaking to the person who is requesting the quote, the quote you send may not match their exact requirements. If you don’t have a relationship with the school, they can easily just drop your quote instead of requesting a change to the quote.

3. Schools are relational organisations.
When they compare quotes, they are not only comparing what is on the paper but they are also comparing what they know about you (do they trust you, can you deliver, are their other schools using your service that are happy).

4. Schools always need 3 quotes.
Sometimes, you will be competing with an incumbent – a company that they have a relationship with that has serviced them for years. For your quote to stand out, it needs to be more than a piece of paper.

5. Schools don’t always choose the cheapest quote
They look at multiple criteria when choosing a quote. And one of the biggest and most important factors is trust. They have a limited budget that they can’t afford to spend badly. They would rather spend an extra R10 and make sure that they get the right product or service the first time around.

So how do you do more than just an email a quote?

Schools need a physical quote but what else can you do? Here are our top 3 tips:

1. Visit them.
If you can’t visit them, give them a call. By visiting them or calling, you show that you are a real person that wants to service their needs. One of the best examples we have seen is a supplier first emailing a quote and then dropping a physical quote off at the school. Why? The school does not need it, but, by dropping the physical hard copy off at the school, it gives you face time with the school – meaning you can build a real relationship with the school. If your business does not allow for visits, give the school a simple quick call. This shows the school that you care and want to service them.

2. Use reviews.
Send the school an email with a link directing them to your reviews on SchoolAdvisor. You can make it even simpler by copying and pasting some of your best reviews into an email that you can then send to the school. Show them that other schools love your business. Schools always want to know what other schools think about you.

3. Ask one of your schools to call the school you are presently quoting.
For big-ticket items like a new astro field, tablets for all the pupils, or a new learning platform, you could call in a favour and ask one of your schools to call the school you are presently quoting. Something really happens when a school looking at a product or service gets a personal call from another school saying ‘hey, heard you are thinking about using (xyz). Well, this has been our experience using them.’ Remember, schools generally know the other schools. They might even compete on the rugby field. But, when it comes to buying, you’ll find that they want to help other schools.

Schools are continuously looking for new suppliers, meaning that competition can be tough. And, as important as product and price are, trust is just as key. Can they trust you? By using the three tips above, you will be going a long way to helping schools trust you. This is why at SchoolAdvisor, when a school needs a quote, we will also send through their full details so that you can deal with them directly.

We don’t just want to connect schools with great suppliers with one simple platform. We want to help you, our suppliers, be great. The above tips and advice will help you be a great supplier for schools. If you enjoyed this and want to learn more about how to earn a school’s trust and how to better sell your product/service to schools, we regularly run ‘Effectively selling to Schools’ workshops to equip you. Our next one is going to be held in JHB on the 20th of October. If you would like more info on this upcoming workshop click here.