April 7, 2021
Everyone in business knows professional relationships are important, but in the California cannabis industry, having your network is a must if you hope to achieve success. Perhaps one of the best ways to make these connections is at expos and local cannabis events. Here is a good resource to see what events may be happening around you, but even a location-specific Google search is sure to point you in the right direction. You’ll want to bring along any marketing material you have, your menu of available (or soon to be available) products, and lots of business cards to start building a sales pipeline. If the event allows, bring some samples of your product with you to make yourself stand out from the crowd.
While you’re networking -- whether at a cannabis expo in California, local event, or even just with the distributor you ran into at your favorite coffee shop -- there are a few key relationships you’ll want to keep in mind. While all are important, connecting with other farmers, laboratories, processors, distributors, and media outlets will be your most valuable B2B partners.
>>> Other farmers can put you in contact with active distributors they work with. These farmers are often your best marketers because if a distributor likes their product, the distributor is likely to trust said farmer’s judgment of other farms.
>>> Laboratories are valuable because they test your product. Labs are often up-to-date with the latest laboratory compliance. Those regulations can be hard to decipher, and these guys are sure to help out where they can. Keep in mind that all labs are priced differently, some with specials that may be closely related to you.
>>> Processors and distributors are your ultimate focus. They are the people who will buy your product! With the abundance of processors and distributors out there, finding a handful who collide with your vision and values shouldn’t be too hard. They are the middlemen who will take your hard work and turn it into cash. Not all producers and distributors are the same, so it’s important to look into their pay structure, end goal, and organization as a whole.
>>> Lastly, your media outlets should be some of your best friends. They are the folks who get your name out there to the masses. If you create strong, lasting relationships with your media, you will have a big step up in this competitive market. Even if you are not looking to advertise at this time, having them on your side is very beneficial.
Your producer/producer relationships, or relationships with other farmers, are advantageous for even more than just the networking opportunities. Connecting with other farms gives you the availability of idea sharing, something immensely valuable in this ever-evolving industry. Not only are there new growing methods and strains discovered every day, but they can also prove to be a resource when it comes to compliance. Two heads are always better than one. Navigating the rough waves of cannabis compliance can be very difficult at times, especially when you have a full-time farm to run. You also open up the availability of sharing resources and working together cooperatively. Cooperative efforts save everyone time and money, and it can be better for the environment, too.
Your producer/buyer relationships, or your relationships with processors and distributors, are your bread and butter. Without them, you would have a bunch of ready-to-go product just sitting in your storage, waiting to be sold. These contacts will be the source of your income, so pick them wisely and often. Even if your buyer relationships aren’t purchasing at the moment, they often have a large network of other buyers under their belt. If you have a good relationship with your clients, they will be more than willing to share your menu information with others when their inventory is full.
It’s important to remember, however, not to put all your eggs in one basket. Even if all of your product is spoken for, keeping a few contacts in your sales pipeline is a smart idea. Any farmer you talk to has an unfortunate story of a buyer falling through at the last moment. Be transparent with your buyers, but always have a backup. A good suggestion is to have four main accounts with two to three accounts in your sales pipeline.
Achieving B2B success in this crowded industry is very possible, but it’s not always easy. Part of selling your product is being a good salesman or saleswoman. Even if you don’t like sales, these networking events can be really fun! You get to meet a lot of great people trying to make a change in the world like you are. At the very least, you’re dipping your toe in a pool of like-minded individuals. Building B2B relationships is imperative for your success and ensures all your hard work pays off. We encourage you to get out there and start fostering these crucial partnerships, guiding your farm to the success it deserves.
Hive Mendocino offers cooperative consulting, so if you’re looking to start your own, reach out to us with details!
Photo by: Chris Butler