Because selling weed is awesome
Let’s face it, selling weed for a living is a pretty amazing job. And we have some serious admiration for the #DopeSales pros who are killing quota in the cannabis industry.
We love that our customers find value in Pistil and use our platform daily to get into more dispensary doors, put more products on shelves, displace competitors and drive more business and revenue for their brands.
Meet #DopeSales pro Devin Penhall, General Manager for California @Timeless Refinery.
After making his mark with brands such as Red Bull in the consumer product goods (CPG) space and fired by a passion for the plant, Devin crossed over to cannabis. He and his team are now building the Timeless brand across the state of California.
We recently sat down with Devin to hear more about his secrets for sales success and to learn how he and his team are using Pistil Data to drive more revenue.
How did you find your way into cannabis sales?
Devin: I worked at RedBull for over 10 years in sales and marketing roles and oversaw on-premise marketing for the West Coast market. When Cannabis became legal in California, a lot of people from the consumer products goods market began moving over to the industry, as it represented a tremendous opportunity for us to apply our experience and skills and build a brand new CPG category. I am also passionate about the cannabis industry and the plant, so the shift into cannabis was a very natural move for me.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
Devin: I love developing talent. It’s a thrill for me to work with and develop my sales team. When they get a win and share it with me, it’s super exciting. That’s why I was so attracted to Timeless. I have the opportunity to build brand awareness in a new state, build the team, and build the culture. There’s a spectrum of talent on my team from people who have never had a sales job before, to people who have decades of experience in CGP and who want to try a new industry, through to people who have years of experience in cannabis. It’s very much a mix of skills and experience.
What’s the hardest part of cannabis sales?
Devin: The hardest part by far is getting your product purchased and sold by a dispensary. California is a legacy state. We have a deeply ingrained culture in cannabis, and with that come entrenched products and relationships. As a new brand, Timeless faces an uphill climb of awareness and trust. In the vape category alone, there are 500+ brands. So, it is challenging to establish differentiation and mindshare and to break through the noise. It can take 10-20 attempts to reach a dispensary owner/manager just to get that first meeting. Dispensaries have 30+ people knocking on their door every day trying to get their attention.
The next challenge is finding professional salespeople who have the relationship and sales background in food and beverage or cannabis who can build those relationships and new territory.
Even if you get that meeting, the challenges continue. We have 900+ accounts across a big state to reach and serve. We are competing against rival brands and against a thriving black market that consumers still turn to. So you need to be in those accounts persistently, training their budtenders, incentivizing them to sell, and staying top of mind. Getting on the shelf is just the first step. You need to move product to be truly successful.
What is your #1 sales pro tip? (the secret to your success)
Devin: We have a fantastic product. I would put our vape up against any vape in the market. But at the end of the day, everyone has a different opinion and the best product does not always win the day. People buy from people they like. So our team is focused on building strong partnership relationships with dispensaries. Their success is our success. That means activating stores every month, handing out samples, and incentivizing budtenders to recommend your product to customers, with perks like tickets to Coachella. We also get behind our dispensary partners and promote them on social. Too many brands make the fatal mistake of believing that if they are on the shelf their job is done. That’s far from the case. If you are smiling; if you are energetic; if you say yes when others say no; and if you keep your promises and do what you said you were going to do, you’ll be well-positioned to win.
How does Pistil Data help you and your team win?
Devin: As a new brand on the market, our very best opportunity is with a brand new dispensary. They don’t have legacy ties or loyalties. They are open to being wooed and to trying something new and different from their competitors. And new dispensaries are popping up all over the state. Pistil keeps us right on top of our sales game with its “find new retailers” feature. My sales team can go into Pistil and pull up a list of every new dispensary in each of their territories. They can see their license, their information. This means we can get out in front, go to the store even before it opens up, meet them, get them samples, slip them a business card and get a meeting set up as soon as possible. Once we are in on the ground floor, we then work with the customer to build a real plan on how we’re going to promote our products and truly partner for mutual success.
We love Pistil’s map feature. California is a big state and my team’s accounts can be very spread out. For instance, I have one guy who covers all of Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, and surrounding areas. Which is a pretty impossible territory if I’m honest. With Pistil’s map feature, he can go in and pull up his accounts and all their locations so he can plan his travel efficiently and optimize his route. He can also see new retailers in Pistil. So if he’s visiting an existing account he can focus on getting that re-order, but he can also visit prospects that are in the same area, instead of visiting an account in Riverside and then driving two hours to get to a new account in San Diego for his next sales call.
And finally, Pistil’s re-stocks feature will show us every account where inventory is low. That allows us to get ahead of re-orders, and maintain strong existing account relationships. The client may not even realize they are low or out of stock. It is a great communication tool and a way to keep products on the shelf.