Building Relationships of Trust: From the Office to the Classroom

By Meredith Biesinger, M.Ed

Building trust with educatorsTrust; What an important noun that is in many aspects of life. Certainly in the business world, trust is important when selling to anyone. However, when selling to schools, trust has to be amplified. Why? Safety. “Safety first” is a timeless motto, and when it comes to schools, safety is of the utmost importance. Schools have the responsibility to keep students safe — in a wide range of ways. Ask any school administrator what the most important aspect of their job is and they will tell you simply “ to keep our students safe.”

How does this apply to education businesses? Here's an example. It is a very common practice for a company representative to visit a school and in exchange for a service, product, or additional information, ask for an email address. The company is building an email list of educators they've engaged with in order to foster those relationships with follow up emails, blog posts, and various landing pages for educators to access that showcase the quality of their services. If the educator's data is mis-used — sold or given to another company to use without the educator's permission; stored insecurely and subject to a hack; or used to send inappropriate or irrelevant information — It sends a message that your company does not value keeping their data, or the school’s data secure. A simple action like valuing someone's email address and keeping it safe begins to build trust with your company that is critical to working with educators as they make product and service decisions.

Do not mis-sell, or make promises that can’t be kept. For example, if you promise complimentary lesson plans, deliver that promise. Make the lesson plans easily accessible and provide support for using them in the form of videos or teacher's guides. In addition, be sure to have data driven examples on your website and landing pages to prove the success of your lesson plans with an explanation as to why they are so effective for teachers and students. Teachers are often told to “teach to the why;” meaning they need to teach their students why it’s important to know the curriculum they are teaching. Professionals who are selling to educators, need to “sell to the why.” Why this product? Why now? Why will it be beneficial? Again, delivering on simple promises like calling when you say you will, following up with information that's been requested in a timely manner, and providing the services you've said you'll deliver, has a big impact on how educators feel about you and your company. Before hundreds or thousands of dollars are spent, educators want to know they can trust you, and have experienced that trust throughout the duration of your relationship.

Once you've sold your product, continue to foster your relationship by keeping in touch with the principal, as well as any teachers using your product that are on your email list. Email them to check in and ensure that their needs are being met with your product or service. Local to the area? Drop by with some boxes of pens or pencils; this is beneficial to the school but it’s also a subtle reminder that you are very much present in their lives and care about your client relationships.

Building a relationship of trust with a school is key to creating and maintaining a successful, on-going, relationship. The key component truly is trust — earning it, and then maintaining it. Educators spend (on average) 45 hours with K-12 children a week —they are invested in their present and their future. Likewise, any education business should be too.

About the Author

Meredith BiesingerMeredith Biesinger is an experienced classroom teacher and school administrator. She has written and implemented differentiated and blended curriculum into various K-12 and college classrooms for more than a decade. With a B.S. degree in English Education and a Master’s of Education in K-12 Policy and Leadership, Meredith’s primary focus has been faculty development and teacher training. Meredith currently resides in Mississippi with her family, where she is actively involved with her community’s schools. In her spare time she enjoys reading, DIY home projects and singing in the local choir.