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6 Ways Superintendents Avoid Sales Calls

Superintendents and principals tell us they receive 15–20 sales calls per day. 20 SALES CALLS PER DAY!!! Seems like a time-sucking distraction for folks who have pretty important day jobs (like improving student outcomes, building teacher capacity and keeping students safe while they learn).

Because leading districts work with us to understand which technology interventions are working for students and their local budgets, we get unique insight into how administrators dealt with the onslaught before implementing our edtech management platform. Honestly, we could file many of these tricks under “laugh-so-you-don’t-cry.”

As the dreaded “conference season” begins — where unlimited coffee and awkward face-nametag-face eye contact will proliferate — we thought we’d share the most inspired approaches Superintendents use to avoid sales calls:

The “Call me, maybe….NOT” List

  1. The Catharsis — A top-200 district superintendent shared his frustration with unending sales email by waking up every morning, scanning his inbox and doing a mass delete of everyone he didn’t recognize. “It’s cathartic, and I’m usually still in my pajamas,” he told us.
  2. The Blockade — Another uses the Catharsis, but he adds persistent sales people to his “blocked” or server black-list. “I never see them again — they weren’t invited and I don’t have to waste any more time.”
  3. The Intern — One large district told us they have spring and fall interns who get auto-forwarded emails from anyone not in the superintendent’s address book. These interns scrub the list, then send notes and specific questions to the Superintendent.
  4. Don’t Call Me, We’ll Call You — Take the intern, give them a spreadsheet, and ask them to tag every company and product with information about the product, grade level, research or other insights. When (and if) the leadership team decides it’s looking for a “literacy product,” they go to the list for every product that has tried to reach out and begin their process.
  5. The Bar Napkin — Inspired by singles and their unwanted suitors, a few committed souls have business cards printed just for vendors. They look just like their normal cards, but with a different email and phone number. We would call them “fake” business cards, but the email and numbers are real… they just go to the switchboard, round file or an intern. Ouch!
  6. The Long Con — Taking advantage of The Bar Napkin trick, we heard one superintendent who had enabled an auto-respond to the fake email address… so a quick response might say “Thanks for writing. I’ll take a look, and be in touch with you in 2 weeks,” leaving the salesperson in purgatory, for a fortnight. Follow up results in the same or a new message (if he chose to update it). Ugh!

It doesn’t have to come to this; we continue to help districts find, manage and implement the best tools for their teachers, students and budgets… and our approach is more cathartic than a blockade!

If you’ve used (or been victim of) any of these, share your best story or trick by posting it below.