Developing Relationships Is Key
Developing relationships is particularly critical in the K-12 market. Segrest suggests attending local or national IT education trade shows such as the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference and South by Southwest to cultivate contacts and learn about vendors and their wares. Smaller and underserved districts may be the best option for newcomers, says Franklin, as they’re likely not the target of more experienced providers in this market.
DiMarco says one of the most effective ways for a channel pro to get up to speed on the industry is to hire a K-12 insider such as a former district IT director. This person has contacts and understands the technical priorities as well as the byzantine funding process, and ideally should bring an evidence-based perspective when it comes to explaining the value of K-12 solutions to prospective clients.
Providers who position themselves as consultative partners after the sale will be in the best position to succeed. “VARs should focus on everything for students, from teaching them to protecting them—securing them, their devices, and apps—to the networks and the data centers,” says DiMarco. Understanding the comprehensive nature of the K-12 landscape provides a great foundation for getting started in the market and building a practice to take advantage of those end-to end opportunities.