You Need to Spend Time Forging Relationships

by | May 6, 2021

“Always remember that everyone with whom you have a relationship has an invisible sign on their forehead that says ‘Make Me Feel Important.’ Treat them accordingly.”

— Eric Philip Cowell, Estate Agent Developer & Music Industry Executive

It’s all about who you know, right? 

For new cannabis brands or companies just starting out, trying to find and establish the right retail relationships is one of the greatest challenges. For bigger companies, the sheer volume of customer interactions and relationships can be overwhelming to manage.  People change jobs all the time in this industry, constantly updating customer lists and databases, while their successors pick up where they left off.

Building Wholesale Cannabis Relationships 101

There is a lot to keep in mind when it comes to building and maintaining relationships in the cannabis industry. Here are just a few of the questions you need to answer when moving your clients through the buyer’s journey from awareness to decision:

  1. How do you tailor communications to each client?
  2. Do you really understand each client’s unique pain points?
  3. Are you listening to their feedback?
  4. How are you striving to exceed expectations?
  5. How are you building trust on a daily basis?
  6. How are you creating loyalty and building retention?

Beyond just the basic, day-to-day relationship building, there are further unique challenges that cannabis operators need to keep in mind.

Menu Drops and Timing Can Be Chaotic

In supply-constrained markets like Illinois and Ohio, it’s common to drop the product menu to your contact list and have the entirety of your inventory depleted within the hour. Retailers are often scrambling to be the first to know about new products and weekly features. In addition to general sales and outreach, it’s a huge job for sales teams to:

  1. Price out the best deals 
  2. Communicate with buyers in an efficient way 
  3. Receive and manage all of the orders manually

In a very real sense, any way that you can streamline and automate communications generates more income by letting the sales team actually focus on sales. You need some type of relationship management tool, like a CRM.

But, what does a CRM look like for the wholesale cannabis industry?

The Cannabis CRM Conundrum

There are not a lot of good CRM solutions out there in general and certainly not in the cannabis industry. There are even fewer options that work with the wholesale cannabis supply chain in mind. 

CRM programs exist from the retailer to the end user cycle, but what about wholesale? There is a real opportunity for wholesalers and retailers to engage at the point of wholesale purchase. 

Whatever relationship management tool you use, it should provide data and pricing trends, have a built-in messaging function to communicate with customers directly, provide asset sharing to share documents with customers and fellow teammates, and reminders to order, purchase and repurchase. 

It’s key to have your CRM close to or integrated with your inventory management tool, so that you can provide your customer with real-time data.

Building Relationships Through Real-time Data

You need a lot more than a handshake (virtual handshake these days) and a sense of camaraderie to build relationships through with retailers. You need to give them real-time data.

“The more information you can give stores, in as close to real-time as possible, the better off your sales will be.” Ramsey Hamide of Main Street Marijuana said this in an article from 2017 published by the Cannabis Business Times. And it still rings true. 

The last thing you need is to sour a business relationship based on an inventory error on your end. 

“Be open and honest,” Hamide continued, “You want long-lasting relationships that lead to that shelf consistency.”


As we’ve seen, it’s vital to build relationships all along the wholesale cannabis supply chain. The closer your CRM is to the point of sale, the easier it will be to track interactions, stay on top of orders, payments, customer issues and grow with your customers. 

A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say.

Click here to learn more about the complexities of scaling your wholesale cannabis operation.

Schedule a demo today to see how Leaf Trade can meet all these needs in one, easy-to-use platform.