By John Serrantino, Sales Director at PipelineDeals
According to Forbes, the cannabis industry is poised to outpace the manufacturing sector in new job creation by 2020. That projection means over 250k new jobs created within the cannabis industry in the next 2 years. Those jobs will range from trimmers, grow site operator's, budtenders, marketers, and, of course, salespeople.
With that growth, the industry will need to mature, and fast. This is especially true in the ultra-competitive producer/processor space. Selling into new retail shops, solidifying relationships at existing shops, managing reorders, and communicating your value proposition will be the job of expanding Sales, Marketing, and Account Management teams. Handling that demand, delivering product, and maintaining quality will be the priority for the Operations and Grow teams.
Each of these teams will have unique needs to meet the challenges ahead. Here are four essential tools every Producer/Processor needs … yesterday.
1. CRM Software
With the appropriate CRM software in place, your teams can seamlessly communicate on all new orders, keep track of samples, and ensure last minute deliveries arrive where they’re needed.
With a CRM in place, you have instant oversight of all ongoing conversations:
- Who has a sample in hand?
- What is the average conversion time from Sample to Order?
- Average Order Size?
- Average Reorder Size?
A good CRM can answer all of these questions and more.
Placing all retail shops into a CRM system allows for straightforward customer targeting and on-demand analytics of your market presence. Placing all of your key contacts at the shops in a CRM system allows for simplified follow up. Who haven’t you spoken with recently? Which shops are just outside your territory today but worth staying top-of-mind with? A good CRM will make all of these opportunities visible and easy to act on.
Leveraging the power of targeted shop communications, sending special offers to move product has never been easier. On average, utilizing this technology can improve margins by 10-15%. PipelineDeals offers fully customized solutions for Cannabis Producer/Processors. These services include sales process building and training.
2) Seed-to-Sale Tracking
Accountability to the state database is a critical requirement for maintaining your license as a producer/processor. There are a number of new software hitting the market to make it possible for manufacturers to maintain end-to-end visibility on cannabis products.
Currently, the market leader is BiotrackTHC which holds agreements with a vast majority of the states where recreational cannabis legislation has passed.
However, dependent on your state, you have options. For example, in Washington State, an alternative solution gaining significant momentum is GrowFlow. GrowFlow features a more intuitive user experience and has the potential for significant customization. As the bidding process for state tracking software has left uncertainty in Washington, upstarts like this user centric platform warrant consideration for your business.
Elsewhere, Colorado has it’s own selection of state-specific alternatives to BioTrackTHC. Leading the way is Flowhub, which offers seed-to-sale and POS capabilities wrapped in a sleek user interface. Flowhub has a noteworthy direct integration via API to METRC, Colorado’s regulatory tracking center. Per Flowhub, this capability is designed to significantly reduce the stress of getting regulatory data into METRC.
3) Email Marketing
Put simply, if you are not actively engaging retail stores with email marketing content, you are missing a critical marketing and sales channel. Email marketing is a low cost, relatively low effort, and effective way of getting in front of customers.
In today’s landscape, the lowest barrier to entry into this space is MailChimp. MailChimp is an established player in the space with excellent reporting capabilities and a simple features that are a synch to grasp.
But what about the content of your email marketing? Outside of simply highlighting your products, a best practice would be to deliver value and expertise to the shops you are selling into.
One strategy is to highlight practices and technologies that will help dispensaries to improve their businesses. A great place to start is by helping them to enhance the retail experience.
A favorite technology for improving the cannabis retail experience is Grassworks Digital. Grassworks has partnered with hundreds of retail shops to provide online ordering and in-store pickup for customers via its Simple Marijuana Menu app. This software also pushes shops menus directly to Leafly and KushGuide, streamlining the process for the business. If your shops can quickly get their offerings in front of the maximum target audience, they will move more product.
A good producer/processor will help their partners in the retail space by connecting them with ways to improve their business, not simply filling orders.
4) Internal Communication Platforms
Let’s face it, production can we be complicated. There are a lot of moving parts, and each part of your team plays a dynamic role in getting product to the shop. Unfortunately, these roles are not always linear. In other words, orders don’t always flow seamlessly from sales to production and on to delivery.. Things happen along the way to turn the order into reality.
That’s where a platform like Hipchat comes in. Hipchat allows for quick communication via their chat and video call platform.
Within the app, you can setup different rooms for different business units. For example, your sales team can have a room to discuss what they are seeing in the market, production can have a place to discuss any logistical issues, Grow Site Managers can leave real-time updates on the status of a harvest.
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 though, cannabis operations can set themselves ahead of the competition and position themselves to compete as the market grows.
Have questions about any of this tools and how they can help your business grow? Feel free to reach out: email@example.com.