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Lessons in Cannabis Sales & Distribution from 20 Years in the Game, Part 1


Jared Kesselman is a Los Angeles native who has earned his living professionally in the cannabis industry since 2000. In 2021, he wrote the critically acclaimed book “The Business of Cannabis: A Blueprint to a High Income.” He has been on the front lines as a sales rep visiting ten or more dispensaries each day pitching products. As a director of sales and distribution, Jared devised and implemented successful sales and marketing strategies while partnering with cultivations, manufacturing facilities, and distribution outfits. He’s built cannabis brands from the ground up as well as the distribution systems and networks needed for success. Jared has consulted for many brands to help with product development, pricing, sales, distribution, marketing, retail support, and sourcing raw materials. He has sold thousands of pounds of flower and kilos of cannabis extracts while closing countless branded, white label, and bulk deals.

Here are a couple of his best practices/insights.

Quality not quantity:

It goes without saying that getting your brands inside retail stores is critical to your success. But just as critical is getting into the right stores. Don’t focus on getting into all the stores, rather use your resources to get into the high volume stores that support your brand. The logistics, time, effort, and money involved in properly supporting the retail stores sales efforts can become very demanding. It is much more effective to focus your efforts and promotions to increase the volume at your best performing stores than to spread yourself too thin trying to hold on to underperforming stores.

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Also, look for stores that have a vibe and clientele that resonates with your brand, products, price points, and story. Not everything that glitters is gold. A famous, brand name retail store might look appealing, but it also might be focused on selling its own products over yours and its location’s demographics might not fit yours. A small mom and pop store in a rough area with a loyal customer base and a staff who loves your products is much more valuable than a large, well known retail store in a high end location whose staff is focused on selling their own brands and whose customers come their specifically for their in-house brands.

Know your demographics and focus on stores that cater to them. Also always get the staff on your side and make sure they try your products and get some branded merch.

There’s too many Brands:

If you walk into your local dispensary you will notice there are hundreds of different brands.

One dispensary in the valley has a huge billboard claiming they have the biggest selection in L.A. with “over 1,500 different products.” Is that supposed to be a good thing? My “quality not quantity” principle definitely applies here. People want simplicity. They don’t want to have to make difficult decisions. That’s why In-N-Out is so successful. Good quality food and an incredibly simple menu. Burgers, fries, sodas, and milkshakes. That’s it. Do one thing and do it better than everyone else.

The cannabis industry is at a similar stage to the American car industry in the early 1900’s. Back then, there were almost 2,000 different car companies producing over 3,000 car models. How many are there now?

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Most of these brands will go under or be acquired and/or merged with other companies. In order to be one of the companies remaining after the dust settles, you have to run an operation that is efficient, keep your costs down, and offer high quality products at a fair price consistently. Stay true to your values and culture as a company and grow organically through effective marketing, collaborations, and promotions.

Support your retail partners and provide them with fresh content that they can post to their customers. And finally, being vertically integrated definitely helps. When you can grow your own flower, manufacture your own products, and distribute them to your own retail outlets you have a great chance to be successful. Don’t rush things and learn from your mistakes.


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