8 Red Flags to Avoid with Cannatech Vendor Evaluations
As a cannabis business, your technology stack is the backbone of your operation. You rely on various cannatech tools to deliver the best consumer experience, optimize your growth and stay compliant.
But deciding which technology vendors are the best choice for your dispensary is challenging.
If we’re being honest, the cannatech vendor evaluation process is flawed. And that really only hurts your business in the long run. The last thing you want to do is waste precious time, money and additional resources on evaluating multiple cannabis technology vendors only to be bait and switched.
Top 8 red flags to avoid
At MJstack, it’s our goal to make sure you don’t have to spend your time on frustrating evaluations. We are here to help you navigate the vendor noise.
That’s why we’ve pulled together a list of the top 8 red flags to look out for during the cannatech vendor evaluation process:
Now let’s break these down into even further detail.
Inexperienced salespeople looking to meet a quota
The most important thing for you to remember going into a vendor call is that your business operates on your own time, not the vendors’. If at any point during the evaluation process, you feel pressured to make a purchase, it’s time to take a step back. A cannatech vendor should never use high pressure tactics to push you into a sale you’re not ready for.
Unfortunately, it happens, because at the end of the day, salespeople need to meet a quota. And while a company’s revenue is important, it’s not your responsibility to support their bottom line just for the sake of it.
Deadline selling is easy selling. People always respond well to last minute deals and discounts, but ask yourself, “is this service vital to the success of my operation?” If it’s not a resounding yes, and you have your doubts, don’t let a desperate salesperson push you over the edge. Remember that you are calling the shots here.
Salespeople who lack technical product knowledge
This is another common problem to look out for when evaluating cannatech vendors. If your salesperson keeps dodging your technical questions or has to constantly respond with “ let me ask my technician,” or “let me get my experts,” then you may consider running for the hills.
This is a sign that the sales team hasn’t been adequately trained on the product and is likely reading from a sales script. You want to make sure that your sales contact has a solid handle on the features and functionality of the product in question. Some salespeople will talk extensively about all of these “cool” and “exciting” new features without ever showing you the product. Don’t let that behavior fly. This is your assessment, make sure you get to see a demo.
Salespeople who go dark after contracts are signed
If the sales representative who has been working with you from inception suddenly goes dark once the contract is signed, that's a potential red flag. There will be some natural separation as you work with other individuals at the organization, but if you have questions or emails that go unanswered, it's worth investigating why.
Plus, if you can’t establish trust and transparency with your sales representative that doesn’t bode well for the rest of your future interactions with the company.
Vendors that embellish product functionality
Every cannatech company wants to put their best foot forward, but you can’t operate your dispensary on empty promises. If a vendor assures you that they support delivery, make sure they actually support the kind of full functionality you need. Oftentimes, vendors will embellish the degree of support they are offering or will hammer down on the product roadmap.
Like a moth to the light, that shiny new feature may seem appealing, but does it help your business operations right now? Does it solve challenges for you right now? Does it improve the consumer experience right now?
Always ask to demo the product that’s currently available. Never buy on trust alone.
It’s appealing to buy a service or product based on a roadmap. People do it all of the time. But there’s very little consistency or reliability when it comes to product development. That one month roadmap for a new payments app could be delayed for months or a year.
You need to focus on what your business needs right now, not 6 months from now. Come prepared with your ideal product/feature checklist. Ask the hard questions. And make sure you get real answers.
Vendors who lack clarity or transparency around product offerings
Piggybacking off the above, if you can’t get a straight answer about a specific product offering or service, that’s a major red flag. Vendors who lack clarity or transparency around their products and timelines are more likely to overpromise and under deliver.
If every question is met with vague and cryptic responses, then the vendor is likely hiding the fact that their product isn’t market ready or that it doesn’t do what it says.
Either way, that’s something you need to get to the bottom of right away before moving forward.
Vendors & salespeople who attack the competition
While there’s nothing wrong with a canntech vendor differentiating themselves, you should watch out for salespeople or companies who rely mostly on tearing down the competition instead of standing on their own merits.
Going after the competition is a cheap and weak strategy that says more about the company doing the attacking than the one being attacked. It’s simply not tasteful. And it likely means that they’d rather distract you from their own shortcomings by placing the emphasis on “the other guy.”
Reputable and reliable cannatech vendors will want to highlight their technology and features if they actually deliver what they promise to. So always keep an eye out for those who are shifting the focus away from themselves and onto what the competition is lacking.
Vendors that use the phrase “industry best”
Because we live in a capitalist society, it’s only natural for businesses to want to be the market leader. But take any cannatech vendor who promotes an “industry best” anything with a grain of salt. Why? Because this is still a young and rapidly evolving market.
In a traditional enterprise tech market, prospective customers can rely on independent third party data and analyst reports to determine which software is truly superior. We don’t have that level of market maturity in cannabis yet, so anyone claiming to be “the industry’s best” anything is likely doing so very subjectively.
That’s why you should always be mindful of fanciful marketing speak and do your own investigative research. If a vendor is claiming they have the “industry’s best support team,” then give their support line a call to gauge it for yourself. If a vendor is claiming to have the “best” POS software on the market, ask for a demo, and compare that to your current software, or seek out those in your area who are using the tool you’re evaluating.
Getting first-hand feedback from dispensaries who are already using a technology you’re evaluating is incredibly helpful, and we’ve found that most people are open to sharing their experiences.
Casting a wide net in your cannatech vendor search
Lastly, consider the fact that more vendor evaluations isn’t necessarily better. By casting too wide of a net for your vendor search, you could end up going down the rabbit hole of demos and consultations that not only take up your time and energy, but also increase your chances of making a decision under pressure.
You can easily weed out the vendors that aren’t a good match right from the start by doing your own research ahead of time, reading customer reviews and talking to dispensaries in your area who already use the vendors you plan to evaluate. This can help narrow down your list to something more targeted and manageable.
Not to mention, the competition keeps growing.
If you do a simple Google search for the best cannabis point-of-sale (POS) providers, you’ll find over 20 different vendor options. Some of those aren’t even cannabis-specific software providers, which will likely not best serve your unique business challenges and regulatory needs. Check out our article here for more on why you should always opt for cannabis-specific technology.
Now that you know the red flags to watch out for, keep an eye out for our next article where we’ll give you actionable tips on how to execute flawless vendor evaluations that get you the answers you need upfront.
And if you’re still feeling overwhelmed with the vendor evaluation process or need help identifying the right canantech vendors for your cannabis business, we can help.
Request a free consultation and MJstack will help pair you with the right vendors immediately. In just 30 minutes you’ll walk away with better clarity and solid vendor introductions. That’s our guarantee.