Best Ways to Grow Cannabis Sales

If you are looking to grow cannabis sales in this thriving multi-billion dollar market, you’ll need a sales process and a CRM. Here’s how you can get started.

Grow Cannabis Sales

Pun intended here, by the way!  At the heart of the cannabis industry is an amazing breadth of opportunity and that’s what we’re addressing for you in this post.

As we outlined in our recent news with Lemonhaze Cannabis Convention, more and more cannabis companies are looking for the best ways to increase profits and run their business as smoothly and smartly as possible.  According to BDS Analytics, 2017 cannabis industry sales totaled $9 billion which is equivalent to annual revenue from Pampers diapers. Nine billion is also equivalent to annual revenue from Microsoft’s gaming division. The BDS report also revealed the largest group of cannabis buyers are in North America and the potential growth will surge to $47.3 billion within a decade.

It is no secret that the cannabis industry is ripe with opportunity.
It is no secret that the cannabis industry is ripe with opportunity.

According to respected media source Forbes, which has covered cannabis businesses in depth, the cannabis industry will  outpace the manufacturing sector in new job creation in just a few years. That’s more than 250,000 new job in the industry ranging from trimmers, grow site operators, budtenders, marketers, and, of course, salespeople.

Throw in the changing social tide to all of these aforementioned proof points and it’s easy to see why top cannabis producers and processors have been shifting their focus to a different kind of growth mode.

cannabis SALES Growth and competition

As the fundamental logistics of production, delivery, and financing iron out at a rapid pace, the cannabis industry becomes a challenge for sales teams and marketeers who are pushing front and center within the burgeoning industry.

This push towards more sophisticated cannabis sales and marketing efforts at the producer, processor, and wholesaler levels has led this “unconventional” industry toward a very fundamental issue: hiring quality sales and marketing professionals, in order to accelerate growth.

Given the youthfulness of the industry, there isn’t much data on the best prospective fits and how to identify them. It’s sort of a wild wild west.

At the same time, it’s an incredibly competitive space. Now is the time to define what makes your product noteworthy. This is where the marker meets the whiteboard. Your sales team should have a clear directive on how to position your product line. What is the story you want to tell? Make sure it’s the same throughout all interactions when selling your product(s).

A fully differentiated product offering will resonate with the consumer. First and foremost, your special product must resonate with the dispensary whose shelf space you are after.

Take control of your cannabis brand

It is a good idea to reaffirm your brand value on a regular basis. We suggest a quarterly review that involves stakeholders. Your brand will evolve over time. So, it is important that the evolution is visible and understood by everyone throughout the organization.

As time goes on, the industry will mature faster. Selling into new retail shops, solidifying relationships at existing shops, managing reorders, and communicating your value proposition will be part of sales and marketing job descriptions. Managing demand, delivering product, and maintaining quality will be the priority for the operations teams.  

As you take control of your cannabis brand, you’ll need to take control of your cannabis sales. Read on to find out how.

CRM Software for Cannabis Sales

One of the best ways to increase cannabis sales is to invest in customer relationship management (CRM) software. It is the best way – and proven way – that sales teams can seamlessly communicate on all new orders, keep track of samples, and ensure last minute deliveries arrive.  It’s software to accelerate sales and the cannabis industry is just like any other in this regard. If you have a sales pipeline to grow, you can grow it faster and better with technology.

In fact, our CEO, JP Werlin spoke to this very topic when he participated in the Technology Panel at the Lemonhaze Convention in Tacoma, Washington. Along with other software company leaders, JP spoke to the value that technology plays to grow a cannabis business.

“How are you organizing your people to take advantage of the technology? If you’re not thinking about the people and the process along with the tech you are ignoring the whole spectrum of how to sell more faster… If you can weave the tech people and process all together you will have a distinct advantage inside of your business.” – JP Werlin, CEO of PipelineDeals

What does a Cannabis CRM do?

With a CRM in place, you’ll gain instant oversight of all ongoing sales conversations.  You will know the answers to these questions instantaneously:

  • Who has a sample in hand?
  • What is the average conversion time from sample to order?
  • Average order size?
  • Average reorder size?
A CRM can help you increase cannabis sales by leaps and bounds.
A CRM can help you increase cannabis sales by leaps and bounds.

Placing all retail shops into a CRM allows for straightforward customer targeting and on-demand analytics of your market presence. Placing all of your shop contacts in a CRM system allows for simplified follow up.  You can understand which client you haven’t you spoken with recently. You’ll know which shops are just outside your territory today but are worth staying top-of-mind. A good sales CRM will make all of these opportunities visible and easy to act on when you need to act.

On top of that, you can leverage the power of targeted shop communications to move products by sending special offers.  On average, we’ve seen customers improve margins by 10 to 15 percent.

Track Potential New Sales Opportunities

We on-boarded our first cannabis industry client in 2017 and since then we’ve seen some interesting sales patterns.  We find that more than 65 percent of cannabis industry producers and processors aren’t tracking potential sales opportunities in any formal manner but want to! 

With a CRM, you’ll see a clear and immediate impact on the reach of your business. For starters, you’ll have all the data, for example shop data, in one place. A single source of truth. This brings a sense of transparency to everyone in the business.

With a CRM, you’ll see a clear and immediate impact on the reach of your business.
With a CRM, you’ll see a clear and immediate impact on the reach of your business.

You can segment those that have placed an order from those that have not. That equates to moving ahead to the next win for your business. You’ll know what percentage of the market you have penetrated and which of your products are moving at the highest rate. In the cannabis industry, those answers had been typically confined to clunky ERP systems or government mandated seed-to-sale software that lacks a friendly user experience. Times have changed and gleaning those game changing insights is easier than ever. 

Build Game Changing Relationships  

Another key factor to cannabis sales opportunities is business relationships. Your company’s relationships with budtenders and general managers make such an impact on your bottom line. Having a record of your conversations is critical. You can’t possibly remember every conversation with every contact. That’s what a CRM is built for, keeping the data you need accessible. When you do follow up, you’ll have the details you need at your fingertips to close a sale and give clients what they need.
Keeping up with relationships is also about establishing clear touch points. Let’s take those budtenders. They are the gateway to your product. They spend the majority of their day making recommendations to consumers. Due to the fact many states have strict regulations on sample quantity, it can be difficult for everyone to experience your product.

This can lead to knowledge gaps which ultimately slows your brand’s growth. Regulatory hurdles aside, it’s critical to have strong relationships with the shops you are distributing. Even if that relationship doesn’t include samples for the entire staff.

To address this, your CRM should have customer management features. It is a revolutionary way for producers and processors to solve the problem of standardizing touch points and monitoring the health of existing relationships.

Another key concept for producers/processors is milestones. Milestones in a CRM are the key events within the lifecycle of a customer that you’ll want to be tracking.  

Cannabis SALES: Email Marketing

Email is critical component of marketing and sales for any type of business. Why? Email marketing is a low-cost, low-effort, and effective way of getting in front of customers who are truly interested in your product. Email marketing is a great tactic to deploy when you want to actively engage with retail stores.

Make sure you build email lists. It will be an on-going process. As you do that, you can use those precious lists. 

Email Content for Cannabis Sales

What should you be emailing your lists? The next step is figuring out the content. It’s more than just highlighting your products. You need to create content that your client base would value and find educational.  Think about highlighting practices and technologies that will help dispensaries to improve their businesses.

Through your CRM and an email integration (like Mailchimp) you can send targeted email campaigns to shops. This enables sales reps to spend more time visiting and calling, rather than crafting emails.

Within PipelineDeals, campaign results (opens, clicks, downloads) are tracked both in real-time and can be analyzed in a digestible report. These campaigns are shown to increase margins and frequency of reorders. That’s because they show exactly which emails are resonating with shops. With an easy-to-use sales CRM, you’ll be able to get a snapshot of new sales with email tracking. You’ll get a clear history of client interactions at the click of a button. These functionalities should always be available via desktop and mobile.

CRM functionalities should always be available via desktop and mobile.
CRM functionalities should always be available via desktop and mobile.

Understand your contacts  

Recreational and medical shops are retail environments, so turnover happens. That can make connecting with the right person challenging.

A cannabis CRM should allow for more than just tracking who you’ve worked with in the past. With the Key Contacts feature in PipelineDeals, for example, our clients can focus in on their most valuable relationships. This type of visibility eliminates confusion in your business and create a smoother experience for your customers.

Keeping note of key contacts is pretty much standard practice in almost any “traditional” industry. Most sales teams utilize CRM software to facilitate this process. Unfortunately, that technology has not yet been embraced within the cannabis industry. Unsurprisingly, the dramatic growth that many have experienced has left many of the industries top participants struggling the put in place fundamental tools and process.

EXECUTE A communication plan 

So you’re keeping track of key contacts.  Great. Now, your communication with them should have a plan. Here’s a sample of the information salespeople should be collecting during their regular check-ins.

  • What’s selling? Any noticeable market shifts?
  • What products are getting the most traction? Competitors or otherwise.
  • How are budtenders positioning your offerings?
  • Inventory status

If we are operating on a four-week-reorder cycle, best practice should include a two-week check-in via phone. The power of a CRM is in automating the reminders to complete these mundane tasks. This will enable your team to focus on exponentially growing the business through making more connections.

If you are selling into a new shop, it’s critical that all interactions are logged. No one likes a forgetful sales rep. It’s just as important to follow up in a consistent manner. That’s, again, where a CRM comes into play.

The recommended cadence for calling into a new shop will vary. However, with a good CRM you can automate how you schedule outreach. Place formal stages for tracking samples (not on the regulatory side, but on the sales side). This type of organization provides clear visibility and helps your team navigate potential opportunities in an efficient and orderly manner.

All of your communication with cannabis shops should have a plan.
All of your communication with cannabis shops should have a plan.

analyze Reports to improve Cannabis Sales  

With a sales CRM, producers and processors can compare the performance of SKUs, sales cycle length, revenue by month, revenue by region, and just about any other custom variable they desire.

The primary focus has been getting away from clunky ERP and seed-to-sale reporting, which is ultimately not actionable for sales reps. New and improved CRM insights have enabled producers and processors to make fast decisions.

Ask a grow site manager what their yield was for a harvest six months ago. They’ll probably know down to the gram. They’ll also know their yield per square foot or per watt.

Ask a cannabis sales manager about their metrics. The story is often very different.

Raise your hand if you have a clearly documented process for logging sales calls. Keep your hand raised if you know the average sample to order rate. How about the average sales cycle length or average sale value?

If you do not know these metrics, you should. They, along with a number of others, are key performance indicators (KPI) within your industry. Building these reports into the fabric of your business early will play a big role in sustaining revenue growth.

In order to properly track these metrics, it is important to find a CRM partner that can set up a system of KPIs to keep you informed on the health of the business. Thankfully, there are resources and consulting services to help you do that. Over the years, we have regularly worked with cannabis businesses to help them understand which KPIs are most important and to develop the reporting that allows them to be tracked.

Manage accounts like a boss

Relationships are and will continue to be the key in the cannabis industry. This is true at every level of the business, from executives all the way through to the trimmers.

Account management refers the management of sales and relationships with particular customers. An account manager maintains the company’s existing relationships with a client or group of clients, in order to remain a preferred supplier.

If current market trends develop as expected, dominant brands will begin to emerge in the industry. As I wrote earlier in this post, brand is important. To effectively leverage your brand, you must convey it and reinforce it with your relationships on a regular basis. This is precisely where account managers come into play. An effective approach will feature one account manager per 25 to 35 retail stores. This number can fluctuate based on order volume and frequency and can also be sliced on a revenue basis but starting with a simple rule is likely best as you scale your efforts.

Account management is a hybrid of sales and support skills. It requires in-depth knowledge of all areas of production, packaging, and fulfillment so that they can filter and translate that to their key accounts.

Grow cannabis sales steadily

The market is here to stay and demand grows by the month. To thrive in the face of this opportunity, and its inevitable challenges, companies need to double down on proven strategies for business growth.

Create a process to get new sales in the door. Manage those relationships so they last. Build a recognizable brand. And monitor KPIs to understand the health of your business. For any business looking to grow in this new market, these foundational pieces can’t be considered optional.

This technology is all about efficiency. If your sales team needs to communicate with production, that would traditionally involve walking down to the warehouse or production lab to relay a message. Not the best usage of time.

The cannabis industry is still in its infancy, but already the competition is steep. With growth anywhere near where it’s projected to be in coming years, the intensity is only going to increase.

There are a lot of things that go into creating a successful business in a wide open market. Even then, there’s no guarantee. With these tools as a foundation, cannabis operations can set themselves ahead of the competition and position themselves to compete as the market grows.   

 

Want to improve your cannabis sales processes? Try the most adopted customer relationship management (CRM) software that is being used by cannabis businesses. Sign up for a free trial of PipelineDeals.

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