ARTICLE: Trevor Minton

EdTech buyers want proof of efficacy and usage – here are 3 data visualization strategies

Gone are the days of pandemic-era funding, when buyers at educational institutions were quick to adopt new EdTech. For the last few years, institutions had the financial bandwidth to try any and all EdTech that facilitated remote learning or in-classroom work. Now that in-person education is back, there’s less incentive to try new tools — and frankly, even less money to do so. Fewer buyers can draw from the well of stimulus money anymore.

So what does that mean for your EdTech? It means there’s a higher burden of proof on your product’s value. That’s where data visualization comes in.

Buyers at educational institutions are looking for EdTech products that are effective and useful. A sales pitch with compelling data that showcases these trends can be the final nudge that makes the sale. If you’re coming out of a disappointing sales cycle, now is the best time to plan for next year’s run. Here’s how to persuade buyers with data dashboards designed to impress.

How to Design Sales-Focused Visualizations That Persuade Cautious Buyers

During the pandemic, schools were flush with stimulus funding with few guidelines about how they spend it. Now, in contrast, caution rules the day. And that caution isn’t just limited to EdTech buyers at educational institutions. Worldwide economic turmoil and panic-fueled bank runs in Silicon Valley means venture capitalists are kicking the tires on new tech products. They want proof their investment will yield better outcomes, not just for users but for their bottom line. 

Most often, the EdTech products that don’t make the cut lack proof of usage or efficacy. So how can you guarantee your data presentations prove both? Use these three data visualization tips to help you persuade even the most circumspect. 

1. Showcase product-led growth

In the past, EdTech relied on direct selling and marketing efforts to drive sales. The prevailing notion was relationships with institutions are paramount to business growth. However, the dynamics of the EdTech market have changed. More EdTech companies lean on a product-led growth model to meet business objectives. A product-led growth model is much more effective than relying on relationships to drive growth because it prioritizes the needs and experiences of end users (e.g., teachers, students, and administrators). This ensures that the product itself is tailored to deliver more value. And with more value, everything else falls into place, including:

  • Higher adoption rates
  • Increased user satisfaction
  • User loyalty
  • Increased sales and ROI

As more product-led EdTech emerges, it’s imperative that your data demonstrate your product’s value to your users. Buyers are primed to search for it, and even the strongest institutional relationships won’t deter them.

2. Prove usage and efficacy

Even if they don’t use Google Classroom, most of your users probably have Gmail or Google Docs, which they likely use on a regular basis. Google Suite is a slam-dunk when it comes to a usage-based sales case: the fact that everyone uses it is compelling in and of itself. 

But usage is different from effectiveness. How products generate the best outcomes (efficacy) is a completely different lens through which to view EdTech. You must prove that your product helps users meet their goals. 

In your data visualization, make sure you include examples to illustrate how often your product is used. But don’t stop there. You also need to show how (and to what extent) it improves outcomes for your end users.

…But put a spotlight on efficacy

High efficacy pushes your EdTech from being a product that everyone uses to a product that everyone needs to achieve better outcomes.

Although usage and efficacy are different, the two metrics have a relationship to each other. Ideally, the more your product improves outcomes, the more institutions are likely to use it and recommend it, prompting even more usage. The higher the usage, the higher the ROI for your buyers. 

But efficacy, not usage, is the spark that sets this virtuous cycle in motion. If your product is widely used but isn’t very effective, another EdTech company is likely to pick up the slack with their own product.

Reliable data comes from multiple sources

Making a sale is a team effort. You need insight from both the sales and product teams to gain a comprehensive understanding of your EdTech’s impact in the classroom. When you work together to gather data and user insight, the sales team is better able to provide buyers with concrete information about your product’s efficacy and usage.

3. Present your data in a form that supports your EdTech sales team

Sometimes data presentations function as both a sales tool and a user tool. Whatever the forms it takes (e.g., dashboards, slide decks, KPIs, etc.), it should augment your sales efforts without confusing your user experience. If you find yourself crowding your dashboard with information that would be extraneous to either user, create separate data dashboards for each audience.


To figure out how to best serve your sales team, treat them just as you would your users. Map their user journey from creating awareness to engaging with a prospect to closing the deal. What are their needs and pain points throughout the process?

Next, conduct a discovery session, or a research phase, to understand where data presentation can best support the sales pitch. Here are some questions to start with:

  • How are sales meetings conducted?
  • Do buyers require specific sales material to share internally?
  • Where does the sales team usually experience friction in the engagement?

You can implement the output from the discovery process into a short-term roadmap. In the long term, continuously iterate to create a more optimized user experience for the entire sales team.

Centralized dashboard model vs. dispersed data model

There are two ways you can display your data to users. One way is with a centralized dashboard where you can see all your information at a glance. Another method is through a dispersed data model. With the latter, the product presents embedded data gradually based on user interactions. Your sales team will likely find more value in a centralized dashboard because it puts a spotlight on the most persuasive data to support sales conversations as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Whether you use a slide deck or a dashboard, the basic principles behind data presentation are the same. Visualizations should be tailored to meet the needs of different stakeholders. With compelling data presentation, you can connect with cautious buyers and convince them to adopt your innovative products.

  • Photo of Trevor Minton
    Trevor Minton

    As CXO at Openfield, Trevor collaborates closely with our clients and ensures that our team delivers world-class design thinking and execution that results in strong emotional connections between users and digital products. He is passionately enthusiastic about music, local and international soccer, automotive design and racing, and getting under the hood of his old but new-to-him BMW to keep it on the road for another couple of decades.

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