By John Serrantino, Sales Director at PipelineDeals
Cannabis legalization has reached a new high—it's crossed the 60 percent threshold. That’s almost a 200 percent increase in support since the turn of the century. Not to mention, it’s been the single most important accelerant in the 34 percent year-over-year growth the industry is currently experiencing. And this is all in spite of shifting politics and external factors.
With the changing social tide and the nearly seven billion dollar market already in place, cannabis producers and processors have been shifting their focus to a different kind of growth mode. With the fundamental logistics of production, delivery, and financing ironing out at a rapid pace, sales and marketing are pushing front and center within the burgeoning industry.
This push towards more sophisticated 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. However, there is a simple checklist that all producers, processors, and wholesalers should reference as they embark on growing their sales and marketing team. Here are some tips and tricks you should be following.
1. Culture Matters- Are you excited to work with this person?
Plain and simple, you should like the people you work with. This is especially true for those in critical cross-departmental roles like sales and marketing. In the cannabis industry, these teams are responsible for communicating with production and shipping to ensure a smooth factory-to-dispensary experience.
Screening for a culture fit does not have to be a time intensive endeavor. How about trying a team lunch with the candidate and key members of other departments? Or try a group interview to see how well they mesh with the team.
These small steps will save your growing business lots of expenses down the road.
2. Results Matter More- Do they have a track record?
This is a tough one in a developing industry. It’s not like you can ask for three to five years of industry specific experience.
That said, the ability to hit and exceed quotas in analogous sales environments is a good place to start. This includes relationship oriented sales environments like advertising agencies, and of course, a background of selling to retail environments.
3. Industry Knowledge- What do they know about the industry?
Perhaps the guiding principle here is “know your products.” Having industry knowledge is key—especially when working with the retailers you’re selling to.
It is also worth exploring third party solutions for new hires to short circuit the process. There are several options for this, including the Cannabis Training University which offers several certification programs designed to provide top level education within the industry. This type of training is a phenomenal way to short circuit your on-boarding process at a low-cost.
Alternatively, HempStaff is a full service offering that specializes in training and staffing at the dispensary level. While not a direct fit for the average producer/processor/wholesaler, there are clear benefits to the services offered.
4. Changes Ahead- How adaptable is this person to change?
Let’s be realistic, there is a ton of uncertainty in the industry. And this uncertainty is not immaterial, especially with the federal position ever evolving. And because they’re doing so in a potentially volatile direction, it is not unreasonable to expect both negative and positive change.
Screening for adaptability should be a major focus as you build your sales and marketing team. They will need to consistently learn new rules and regulations.
5. Goal Alignment- How do their ambitions match with yours?
Where do you see yourself in five years? If you don’t know the answer to this before you begin hiring a sales and marketing team you are not doing yourself any favors.
Salespeople inherently want to work in a growing business. Marketing folks want exciting new products to introduce and position within the retail environment. As the market evolves, you will have choices to make regarding how your business grows.