How Are You Running a Business without a CRM?

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Photo: WM CRM

In an industry generating billions of dollars in revenue, it’s surprising to learn nearly half of marketers have been working with less than $50,000 in their budget this year. According to New Frontier Data’s NXTeck and the Cannabis Marketing Association, these professionals are investing significant time in top-of-funnel marketing activities, but they’re struggling to get the right message to the right audience.

Unfortunately, too many cannabis businesses have been painfully slow to implement the same marketing and sales tools widely adopted and fine-tuned by Fortune 500 companies with seemingly bottomless marketing budgets. But is the job of a marketer at an extraction-equipment manufacturer really so different from that of a marketer at Mercedes-Benz? Advertising restrictions certainly have led to lower budgets that have made it difficult to attract the country’s top sales and marketing minds, but this doesn’t mean our industry can’t benefit from their data-supported best practices and tools when trying to reach customers.

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With such limited resources and available avenues to reach new customers, small teams with meager budgets need to embrace new technologies and invest time in learning how to use any modern customer relationship management (CRM) platform. With the right systems in place, marketers can nurture leads automatically and engage with prospects at the ideal moment across the customer journey, allowing businesses to capitalize on their hard-earned brand awareness at the top of the funnel.

What can you do with a CRM?

Save time and increase sales—at the same time. Need anyone say more?

A modern CRM is a robust marketing and sales tool designed to help businesses make the most of every customer interaction and conversation. Once the system is implemented, you’ll have an organized and centralized database with information about every past contact with every customer who’s interacted with your brand. With the right data in place, you can trigger personalized emails when you capture a new lead, send a text follow-up with a targeted offer, or learn about a caller’s product preferences before you pick up the phone.

While many of these features were developed to speed up complex marketing activities at giant corporations with far too many prospects to manage realistically, small teams with limited resources suffer the same constraints and benefit from the same solutions. Major names like Salesforce and NetSuite have their place in any industry, but cannabis-focused software companies are emerging with tailored services and features.

7 CRMs for cannabis businesses to consider

Purpose-built software may be the best fit for dispensaries given all the native compliance integrations, but the rest of the industry shouldn’t write off the major brands too soon. If your company’s hiring plans include poaching talent from outside the industry, a mainstream CRM like Salesforce or NetSuite could ensure new employees can begin doing meaningful work with familiar tools on their first day.

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365 Cannabis

365 Cannabis

Akerna Corp.

Industry-specific? Yes

365 Cannabis is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software provider under the Akerna umbrella with a seed-to-sale CRM module. In 2021, Akerna secured the world’s first national government cannabis contract with St. Vincent and the Grenadines to provide a specially developed CRM that could meet regulatory requirements and provide a user-friendly experience.

The 365 Cannabis CRM module gives business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies the ability to consolidate all new-lead and existing-customer information into a single platform. Through the centralized database, marketers and sales teams can identify prospective customers at different stages in the sales cycle and deliver the appropriate targeted message or offer at the ideal moment to drive sales and increase loyalty.

The platform also provides support for vendor relationships by organizing all sales and purchase orders to safeguard against missed or misplaced deliveries. Additional features include real-time reporting, detailed live dashboards, customer profiles, and data-driven analytics to help make more informed decisions. Pricing is not advertised, but demo accounts are available upon request.


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Keap

Infusion Software Inc.

Industry-specific? No

Keap is an easy-to-use small-business CRM platform, making it a suitable selection for small teams and new companies without experience using this type of software. Keap offers a wide assortment of pre-made templates for everything from sales pipelines to cold-prospecting emails, ensuring users get off to a good start with proven strategies and tactics to drive sales.

The time-saving automations are especially easy to build with intuitive “when, then” commands to eliminate hours of repetitive tasks such as lead capture and follow-up. Not only are Keap’s features relatively easy to implement and use, but new customers also are provided with a dedicated customer success manager for one-on-one growth coaching.

The platform is available through two subscription plans, Pro and Max, with the biggest difference being the inclusion of lead scoring and analytics in the Max plan. Pricing begins at $129 per month, and users can test the software free for fourteen days.


SalesManager
NetSuite

NetSuite

Oracle Corporation

Industry-specific? No

NetSuite is a widely adopted cloud business suite designed to help companies manage every interaction across all channels with potential customers, existing customers, business partners, and suppliers through a single source of data.

The platform’s sales-focused marketing-automation tools can remove the complexity in lead qualification and conversion, track and measure each prospect’s activities, identify the key moment when a new lead meets predetermined buyer-readiness conditions, and alert the appropriate member of the sales team to close the deal.

Other features help streamline the sales process by allowing teams to quickly configure, price, and quote complex products and services with the ability to generate three-dimensional product visualizations and automatically generate sales proposals. Pricing for NetSuite is not publicly available. The service requires an annual license fee for the core platform, optional modules, and the number of users.


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Pipeline

SaaS.group LLC

Industry-specific? No

Pipeline, formerly PipelineDeals, is a mainstream CRM platform with an active interest in supporting cannabis businesses as demonstrated by its trade-show participation—potentially bridging the gap between a cannabis-focused and traditional software provider “We handle a lot of farm businesses, producer-processors, wholesalers, and distributors who want to track their revenue growth,” Senior Account Executive Jon Englund told a cannabis podcast last year.

The platform’s automation tools help teams save time and work smarter with efficient workflows, streamlined sales pipelines, and “next step” suggestions that prompt the next best move on a deal automatically. Every Pipeline customer works with a customer success team manager who helps develop a plan tailored to suit a company’s needs. The sales-focused mobile app for iOS and Android helps managers and sales team members access contacts, deal details, real-time insights, and customer history on the go to help close sales at any time.

Pipeline also seamlessly integrates with more than a dozen popular business applications including Google Apps, Mailchimp, Outlook, Excel, QuickBooks, and Zapier. Pricing for Pipeline is split between three plans—Start, Develop, and Grow—that range from $25 to $49 per user per month and differ significantly in available features. A free fourteen-day trial is available for the Grow plan.


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springbig

Springbig Holdings Inc.

Industry-specific? Yes

springbig is a cannabis marketing platform with a dispensary-focused CRM designed to build better customer relationships. The suite of tools includes a loyalty program, rewards and offers, marketing automation, online ordering, compliant communications, a product advertising network, and the referral program budz.

The CRM features dispensary POS integration that collects a wealth of valuable data to help build long-term customer relationships. springbig also includes automation software to help make better sense of the customer life cycle, allowing businesses to optimize their campaigns and strategy quickly with the right data.

The ability to track and capture data is maximized through reporting tools with easy-to-understand data visualization to identify your most valuable customers and engage in effective marketing campaigns. The company does not advertise pricing, but demos are available.


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Salesforce

Salesforce Inc.

Industry-specific? No

Salesforce is one of the biggest names in enterprise software with a global CRM market share of nearly 25 percent, making it a strong selection for large, vertically integrated multistate operators doing much more than dispensary sales. Salesforce helps organizations grow by providing a single, centralized view of B2B and B2C interactions across all channels. With an expansive range of features that reach far beyond a CRM, Salesforce is uniquely positioned to grow with businesses in any market.

Its highly effective tools for sales forecasting and lead management provide an accurate, real-time view of a company’s complete business pipeline to objectively point out areas for improvement. The lead-management tools utilize landing pages and emails to capture and qualify new leads before sending them to the appropriate member of the sales team. Sales reps are provided with every detail they need to follow up quickly with a personalized email or make a call with the built-in dialer.

Pricing for Salesforce starts at $25 per user per month but quickly increases depending on the selected features and tools. Customers can try the platform free for thirty days.


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WM CRM

WM CRM

WM Technology Inc.

Industry-specific? Yes

WM CRM, formerly Sprout, is a cannabis-focused CRM and marketing platform built to support dispensaries and brands with a suite of available tools. The all-in-one marketing platform powered by Weedmaps features email marketing, multimedia messaging, SMS text messaging, surveys, mobile coupons, loyalty programs, and reporting.

This combination of features provides a 360-degree view of each customer and allows businesses to send the right message at the right time, which is a reported struggle for nearly half of all cannabis marketers. WM CRM also has a jumpstart program designed to help new dispensaries get up to speed quickly.

The platform integrates with third-party loyalty and POS systems including Flowhub, Leaflogix, Treez, MJ Freeway, Cova, Greenbits, and BioTrack. With the added SproutPay feature, dispensary customers can link their debit cards to make easy cashless transactions. WM Technology does not advertise its CRM pricing.

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