To sell cannabis products, dispensaries and retailers must first initiate and build relationships with their customers. Successful relationship management helps you create personalized relationships with each of your customers. This, in turn, builds customer loyalty. And ultimately, your cannabusiness will attract an even larger customer base via referrals and word-of-mouth testimonials.
This, however, is not an easy task. But technology is available to provide the much-needed help. Specifically, a customer relationship management (CRM) solution can help you manage retail relationships and the entire sales process. You can also use it to spur the growth of your businesses. Without CRM software, it’s pretty daunting to rise to the top of your trade and maintain equally beneficial and gainful relationships.
In this post, we look at the key questions that cannabusinesses should ask themselves as well as their tech providers before buying and executing a CRM solution in their business operations.
What Is CRM?
You’ve probably heard the name CRM before but may not know what it means. From a technological standpoint, CRM is a cloud-based software platform that allows any business to manage each interaction they have with their repeated and prospective customers. With CRM software, you can collect key metrics on your client base.
Here are some of the data you can collect about your clients:
- Contact details
- Dates of birth (ideal for sending customized birthday messages)
- How frequently they visit your dispensary or business
- What their preferred merchandise is
The data analytics provided by CRM can segment customers into different buckets. This makes it easier for you to target specific customer segments depending on their personal details.
CRM is also an important part of your sales and marketing strategy. It shows you what’s working and what’s struggling. Thus, you can repeat and continually fine-tune your sales and marketing campaigns while measuring your ROI (return on investment).
CRM for Cannabis Industry
Unlike other sectors, the cannabis industry is pretty unique and highly regulated. Weed retailers, for example, are subjected to tons of paperwork, red tape, bureaucracy, and regulations that are almost impossible to stay up to date with. This is why they need to use CRM software platforms that are designed exclusively for the weed industry.
The whole cannabis supply chain, including cultivators, processors, warehouses, laboratories, and dispensaries, are required to provide the regulatory bodies with detailed reports about their association with their customer base and suppliers. They should also provide granular information on cannabis sales and production. A suitable CRM solution delivers bespoke reporting and data tracking to ensure cannabis businesses stay compliant with different national and territory regulations.
And when it comes to the exclusivity of the weed industry, the right cannabis tracking system must meet the requirements of marijuana businesses. In fact, some of the most well-known CRM solutions in the weed world have been designed by companies, startups, and individuals with vast experience in the sector.
Questions to Ask
Every dispensary owner should put a lot of thought into sourcing and implementing a CRM solution. This is because it is a major investment with prospective costs that surpass what your software provider charges.
When you pick the wrong dispensary software, ignore stakeholder training, or use the software incorrectly, you’ll be throwing money down the drain. Or worse, you may end up with compliance issues.
Here are important questions that you should ask yourself and the CRM tech provider as you weigh your options:
1. Do you understand your current sales process?
Before implementing a CRM solution for seed-to-sale tracking, you should first have a basic understanding of your present sales process. If you pick any type of software but don’t understand the process that the software is streamlining, then the solution will mirror your poorly thought-out process.
2. Will my budtenders be able to easily implement the software?
At the very core, you would want to make sure that the CRM platform is user-friendly. Prior to committing funds to buy CRM software, you must first ensure that the budtenders will be able to use the chosen software.
CRM software is comparable to a gym membership. When you sign up for a gym membership, you look forward to getting in shape. However, if you don’t show up at the gym, your weight or health issues will persist. And the same is true for CRM software that’s integrated with dispensary inventory management.
A cumbersome user interface can be a serious impediment to utility. Once more, it all boils down to understanding your dispensary’s inventory management process and making sure that the budtenders are on board with adopting software to simplify the process. Ideally, make sure there’s a need for CRM in your inventory management process and that you’ve trained the relevant stakeholders on using the software.
3. Does the CRM provider offer customer support?
Some tech companies have poor communication with their customers. The right CRM provider should have friendly customer service behind the software to respond to queries that might come up.
Onboarding may take time, particularly as you train your dispensary staff on using the new CRM system. As such, you should ask about the level of customer support provided by the CRM company. For example, do they have a representative on standby to assist your team with the software implementation and common user queries?
A good CRM software package should entail the following important elements:
- Technical support
- User tutorials
4. Is the CRM software designed specifically for the marijuana industry?
As earlier stated, the cannabis industry is unique and highly regulated. For this reason, you’ll want a CRM platform that’s compliant with the numerous regulations of the marijuana industry.
All the outstanding results that a CRM provider can give to other businesses like a barbershop or spa might not be applicable in this unique industry.
Given the unique regulations of the cannabis market, opt for CRM software dedicated to the cannabis industry. In case the CRM is adapted from another sector, inquire from the tech provider about the measures they took to ensure the software meets the unique needs of the weed industry.
5. Is the technology the right size for my dispensary?
Based on your business model, make sure the CRM solution fits within your budget and scale. You don’t need software that has more features that your dispensary doesn’t need currently. At the same time, don’t work with startups that can’t provide tested technology. Ideally, opt for the right-sized solution at the right price for your business.
6. Is the tech customizable?
Cannabis businesses can leverage the fundamental sales knowledge and marketing processes from other sectors. That being said, producers and processors must be able to customize CRM software according to their exact business model.
For example, the tech should come with customizable fields. These would allow businesses to input specific data about their retail customers and prospects. In fact, a custom field allows you to track all sorts of things.
Here are examples of customized fields:
- What is the size of your retail store?
- What merchandise did you buy last time?
- What’s the average customer spending in the dispensary?
A number of CRM software may also provide the option of featuring pre-loaded data to help cannabusinesses locate their target market. For example, the software may come with a specific state or territory’s cannabis sales data, which may fill the platform with all the latest available information on certified retailers and customers.
If you’re a grower or processor, you’ll be able to capture all your prospects in your new CRM platform with all their contact details. This is regardless of whether you’re entering the cannabis market or just upgrading from a spreadsheet to something more sophisticated to manage your sales.
7. Is the CRM system a one-trick pony?
You don’t want to make the mistake of signing up for a CRM system that only does one thing, like tracking sales data without reporting or messaging. In such cases, you’d be forced to buy separate software for:
- Reporting and data analytics
- A loyalty program
- Marketing automation
Ultimately, you may end up with several platforms in an attempt to find a comprehensive solution to one major problem. This means that you have a lot on your plate when it comes to keeping track of different account information. You’ll also spend more to maintain the different platforms.
Ideally, you want a cannabis CRM system that comes with multiple features so it can be a consolidated and affordable solution. For example, the system should have marketing automation. Marketing automation denotes the technologies meant to effectively merge internet marketing and automate monotonous tasks like text and email marketing. Reputable CRM platforms should also integrate with your online ordering, point-of-sale (POS) system, inventory management, and warehousing systems.
Having all these features and crucial information in one platform ensures dispensary owners never lose any sales leads, even with staff turnover. If, for example, the sales representative quits and moves on, the dispensary owner won’t lose any sales contacts if they’re captured in the CRM system. This is because everything is tracked and managed in one central place. This means the sales rep doesn’t walk away with your book of business or customer relationships and take it to your competitor.
8. Does the software offer cross-channel tracking?
The modern customer’s journey occurs across multiple touchpoints. Studies reveal that more than 73 percent of consumers use several mediums in their purchasing journey.
A cross-channel consumer typically hops from one channel to another while interacting with your brand. This may include your website, email marketing, and social media channels. The list is varied, based on the number of channels you use to communicate with customers. A prospect might first check out your website on their desktop but in the end, make an order through one of your social media pages.
These cross-channel and cross-device brand interactions are important to track to understand your consumers and their shopping experiences better. Armed with the data, you can pinpoint additional sources of qualified customer traffic. You can then choose the perfect customer journey for conversion, and therefore, a CRM system that provides cross-channel tracking would be perfect for your dispensary.
9. Will the tech streamline communications?
The cornerstone of all relationships, including those in the corporate world, is communication.
Looking at how relationships are forged in business, there are few differences from how relationships are forged in other areas of life. Consistency, reliability, and timeliness are important elements for any successful business relationship. For this reason, the main challenge in the cannabis industry is to keep those connections active and healthy.
Cannabis cultivators and processors can benefit from having email incorporated into the CRM platform they pick for their business. As such, they can centralize all their communications with dispensaries and retail stores in one place.
A good CRM system should also allow cannabis companies to upload documents, like price lists or marketing collateral.
Assuming you’re a cultivator or processor, you shouldn’t have to wonder what you specifically said to a certain retailer. Everything is captured in your CRM system.
10. What integrations does the CRM system allow?
Nowadays, most software solutions integrate with other renowned software. So, you should find out from your CRM provider about the sort of integrations the software allows. Can you integrate the CRM with an inventory management system, product lifecycle management tool, or content marketing software? This knowledge will inform your decision on how to get the most out of your digital toolkit.
The Bottom Line
You now know the importance of CRM software in your cannabis business. And asking the above-listed questions can help you make an informed decision in buying and implementing the right CRM system.
Analyzing the different CRM solutions and even signing up for a free, no-obligation trial is a good starting point. Given that your chosen system’s features are crucial to forging stronger connections with your customers, you cannot afford to make a mistake with your CRM selection and implementation.