This Bud’s For You: Delivering the Cannabis Experience to Your Customers

Welcome to the New Frontier

America is about to experience the New Frontier of the cannabis movement firsthand. At last count, 31 states have either legalized or decriminalized cannabis in the recreational or medicinal form or an iteration of both. On the recreational side, it’s anticipated that more than 250,000 jobs will be created to satisfy pent-up demand for the product by 2020. Adult-use cannabis sales are expected to grow to $11.2 billion dollars by 2020. That number could rise as state and local governments are feeling more pressure to legalizing the crop which is currently said to be bigger than corn. As legalization takes cannabis out of the shadows of organized crime, it is generally believed that the cartels will feel the pinch.   Cannabis strains with names like Purple Kush and Sour Diesel are already gaining notoriety in the America’s lexicon.

Staff Training is Key to Success

A major challenge of retailers in the New Frontier will be to hire and train staff with the right attitude. Conveying knowledge to the staff delivers a satisfactory customer. The right training will instill the values, product knowledge, and salesmanship needed in order to develop a dedicated clientele that will comeback time and again. Product knowledge combined with strong communication skills will be needed in order to deal with both seasoned cannabis users and novices alike. Comprehensive training in issues such as knowing the difference between CBD and THC, for example, is essential in having the public building trust in your staff which in turn will drive repeat business. It is important to convey to the Budtenders that an empowered consumer becomes a loyal customer. And a loyal consumer drives sales.

It is also important for the staff to understand that, in the eyes of the consumer, we are selling more than cannabis. We are delivering a narrative that conveys excitement and adventure to our customers. The staff needs to be well versed in”romancing the stone”, that is to entice the customer into the anticipation of the adventure that is about to happen. A good example of selling the narrative is during the heydays of the “StarbucksExperience” The company created a narrative that went beyond just selling coffee. During that time, Starbucks relied on word-of-mouth to promote themselves and never had to spend a dime in advertising.

ABC(Always Be Selling)

As a new industry, finding experienced Budtenders is a challenge. That’s why incorporating a structured learning tutorial into the learning equation is advisable. Keep in mind that a successful cannabis shop is in the business of brand building. Your Budtender represents your brand. His interaction with your customers will determine the successful outcome of your business. Factors that must be absorbed into training include determining the needs of the customer. Questions to ask are: “Are you here to alleviate a medicinal issue or for recreational purposes?” It is in ascertaining customer distinctions that differentiate how a customer should be served.

For first time customers, ask questions without appearing too inquisitive. Ask them what feeling they are trying to attain. Are they looking for an energetic experience or something more laid back? The more you learn about a customer’s expectations, the better chance you have of converting him or her as a regular customer. Encourage the staff to consider collecting information that may be helpful in future marketing offers such as a free drawing or birthday discount.Always give them information such as a website address or to visit the site for up and coming specials.  Encourage them to participate in events in your shop like an exhibit of local artists or a popular local guitarist. Build the”Experience” and they will come.

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