Cross-Training Your Cannabis Sales Team
To have a sustainable cannabusiness, cross-training your sales team to maximize growth and sales is an essential part of your business model.
Let’s say you run a cannabusiness that sells and distributes concentrates, edibles, and flower, and you have multiple members on your sales team, with each team member specializing in a certain type of sales. For the purposes of this article, let’s say Salesperson #1 is your go-to Concentrates Whiz Kid, #2 is the Edibles Intellect, #3 is your Flower Guru, #4 handles urban accounts, #5 knows all things medical; the list goes on and on.
Why is Cross-Training Important?
While this model of dividing sales and conquering is beneficial to you as a business owner (you know exactly who is best suited to close each deal), it can prevent you from scaling and growing your business. If the Edibles Intellect leaves your company, edibles sales are going to take a serious hit while you scramble to find someone with an intimate knowledge of all things baked.
To combat this, preventative measures can and should be taken by you, the business owner, to ensure that if a salesperson goes on vacation, falls ill, or leaves your team, your other business dev reps are prepared, and minimal business is lost in the transition.
Why Should I Cross-Train?
Investing in your sales team is important for a few reasons: you’re helping your employees to develop professionally and allowing them to acquire new skills that will ultimately grow your business.
Your business is solidified and less affected by vacation time, sick leave, or departures. You’re working as a supervisor to encourage camaraderie among team members by offering a chance for cross-education, collaboration, and sharing. And finally, you’re increasing your team’s efficiency, as one team member can open another’s eyes to a new way of closing sales.
When you help your sales team to help each other, they will ultimately help you.
How Do I Cross-Train?
Identify Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
It is essential that sales members feel less of an atmosphere of competition and secrecy between one another. Open the floor for dialogue between sales members, and ensure your sales team feels a sense of collaboration and teamwork.
Set up weekly half hour cross-training sessions, led by a different sales rep each week, with a specific agenda and goal: i.e. “Concentrates Sales” or “Edibles 101.” Your leading salesperson for a specific area of sales should come prepared to give a “lesson” on their best tips and tricks.
This is also a great time for other team members to voice concerns or ask questions. According to LeafLink Sales Manager Jaimie Schutter: “It’s very important to empower your employees to teach and learn from one another. Usually team members are happy to do it, and the team responds well. My team always ask each other questions, sometimes even before asking me, which I welcome, because they truly are the experts!”
Let’s say Salesperson #1 knows the subtle differences between wax, shatter, live resin, sugar, budder, sap, and every combination of the aforementioned concentrates. They’re going to be particularly good at making the argument to a store owner as to why your concentrates are the best to stock their shelved with. And let’s say Salesperson #3 knows the ins and outs of quality flower, trim, and shake.
LeafLink’s Sales Team Report (under the Reports tab on your LeafLink Dashboard) is a great feature to use for cross-training, as it shows which team member is leading in sales, and which team members could use extra support from their colleagues.
Organize Cross-Training Sessions
Cross-train Salesperson #1 and #3, and have them do a couple of tag-team sales meetings where they “switch roles” to see how well the cross-training is working. It is during this time you can identify gaps in the trainings, and work to improve the “lessons” being given.
Having your team “role-play” and give fake pitches to a retailer is helpful to everyone. Have your other sales team members ask tough questions during this mock pitch, and see how everyone responds! This way your team can help prepare one another for any curve balls thrown during an actual sales pitch. Per LeafLink Sales Manager Mali Sanati, “Practice makes perfect. The more your team practice with each other, the more confident they will be in their sales meetings.”
Another great way to train your cannabis sales team would be having your team tag along to vendor days at other stores in your region. Observe how other teams educate one another on the products being sold in their stores, and maybe you can pick up some great tips!
How to Sustain Your Cross-Train
It is essential that your employees provide feedback following the cross-training sessions: determine what’s working, what isn’t working, and collaborate to come up with new ideas on what could work better. Having a templated guide for new trainees streamlines your processes, and makes your methodology and what you’ve learned teachable to all new hires.
Consider taking the time to formulate a Sales Playbook, which will contain all the necessary information a new hire would need to know in order to be successful in his or her sales position. This should be a collaborative document, constantly updated with each new skill your team shares as the trainings occur.
Additionally, use the sales playbook to compile cannabis-specific knowledge (A concentrates compendium! An edibles encyclopedia! A tincture tell-all!), with nuances that someone new to the cannabis industry may be unfamiliar with. You could even offer incentive (a one-time bonus, increased commission, etc.) for when the Flower Guru makes their first edibles sale.
The benefits your company will experience by cross-training the sales team are financial, as well as personal; your employees will grow, improve, and self-motivate, leading to an overall happier and more ambitious workforce.
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