Ear to the Ground: More Sales Insights from K-12 Leaders

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Back in March, I attended and wrote about an educator roundtable hosted by the Center of Digital Education (CDE). K-12 leaders from around the San Francisco Bay Area shared insights about their districts and explained how K-12 sales executives should approach them. Today I’d like to offer additional takeaways from that meeting.


Multiple leaders spoke, and their messages echoed the K-12 narrative so far in 2014:

  • The Great Recession stalled funding between 2009 and 2013. Now dollars are coming back. . . slowly.
  • Districts badly need to catch up on infrastructure and technology improvements, and that is beginning to happen. Priorities are aligned; elements of the vision plans created over the last several years are now being launched.
  • Adoption of the Common Core is influencing curriculum decisions for most of the 18,000 U.S. public school districts.

Spotlight: John Krull, Oakland Unified School District

John Krull has been the IT Officer for Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) for almost one year. Prior to joining Oakland, he spent 2.5 years as the CTO for Fremont Unified School District in Silicon Valley, almost 5 years as VP of Technology for Envision Schools, and more than a decade in increasingly senior positions at technology companies like Microsoft.

When making his decisions, John is used to taking into consideration the needs of many stakeholders: OUSD employs 1,900 teachers at 86 schools that collectively serve 37,000 K-12 students; Fremont United has approximately 32,000 students.

But John also isn’t afraid to make big bets and move fast. He’s one of many CTOs currently fighting to put their districts back on the technology curve. Last month, Fortune Magazine wrote about his decision to distribute Chromebooks district-wide (sub req).

Here’s the advice John gave to publishers and technology vendors at the CDE roundtable:

Understand Your Prospect’s Context

Chromebooks were the right solution for Oakland, but they wouldn’t have worked in Fremont Unified. “At Fremont, purchasing cheap PCs made sense because we had existing Microsoft Exchange and other Microsoft licenses.

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