Cannabis works differently for everybody. What works for you may not work for somebody. So, how can we guide the customers in making an educated decision in choosing the right products?
Understanding the importance of the budtender’s role in the cannabis industry, she came up with a solution to train people not only about CBD but also to communicate effectively with the customer.
In today’s episode, MJ explains why people are still skeptical about using cannabis and how we should address that. She also talks about their 6-Step Process Training Methodology and a whole lot more.
Don’t miss out!
In order to meet consumers’ needs, you have to know what you’re selling them, cannabis education, product knowledge, and how to communicate with them effectively. – Melissa Jane Stapley
Some Topics We Discussed Include
4:08 – From the corporate world to CBD sales and education training
8:10 – Budtender’s role in educating and empowering customers
13:33 – MJ Hybrid Training Solutions Business Model
19:43 – The 6-step process training methodology
31:50 – MJ’s family’s reception to her chosen career
46:21 – Obstacles in growing the business
57:32 – Words of Wisdom
People Mentioned / Resources
Connect with Melissa Jane Stapley
Connect with Sonia Gomez
Sonia Gomez: What’s up guys, Sonia Gomez: coming to you from Denver, Colorado. Super excited to be here on another rock your socks episode of The Hemp Revolution podcast where we are sharing and telling the real story of cannabis from the eyes of the entrepreneurs and changemakers who are pushing this incredible Industry forward. If you are someone who is looking for products that you can depend on to deliver the results that you’re looking for, check us out at medicalsecrets.com.
As you know it is our mission to empower you with the truth about cannabis, so that you can make educated decisions about how you want to care for yourself and people that you love, conditions you may be suffering from, or otherwise, enjoying this beautiful gift of life.
I invite you now to like and share this content because every time you like and share an episode like this and tag five people you are quite literally helping me transform the way that we are talking about, thinking about and sharing information around cannabis with our families and communities. So I invite you now to like, share, tag five people make sure that you check out the blog and mentionable along with all of the links that are surrounding this video here. And we will be off to the races together.
Just to give you an idea of what kind of transformation you guys have been able to help me make we have impacted over 200 million people’s lives in the last three years because you guys are sharing this type of content, so I’m so grateful to have you here and a part of our hemp revolution family. Thank you so much. If you’re a budding entrepreneur or existing business owner and you want to share your story with me shoot me an email email@example.com and I would love to get to know you better.
You guys know that I fish and farm the best of the best in the industry and today is no different. You know how my heart starts beating thump thump thump for a lady boss entrepreneur in this space, and today I have one of the best. Melissa Jane or MJ Stapley, founder of MJ Hybrid Solutions started her journey in the cannabis industry back in 2014. She left her corporate management career and joined the cannabis industry to work for CV Sciences, a CBD manufacturer.
After discovering a need for cannabis employee training, MJ combined her passion for sales training and cannabis education to develop the MJ Hybrid Training System. With her 12 years of corporate sales experience and five years of cannabis industry expertise, MJ created a training for cannabis employees that is both scientifically accurate and helps employees better sell to customers.
Her mission is to legitimize the cannabis industry through proper employee education and training. Thank the good Jesus. You know, I gotta be honest. It’s a fucking mess when you walk into a certain cannabis company. This is just like, this is giving me a snail trail. I gotta be honest. Put your hands together and help me welcome my good girl, Melissa Stapley, or MJ. What’s going on, girlfriend?
Melissa Jane Stapley: What’s up? Thanks for having me. Thanks for that awesome introduction.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, you’re so welcome. I’m super excited to have you here. A girl after my own heart trying to fix the problems that we never thought we had.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Right
Sonia Gomez: You everybody thinks you know you build it, they will come but the only problem is you build it they come and nobody knows what the fuck you’re selling them or how to use it effectively. So Before we dive into the meat and potatoes of this, why don’t you give me a little broth? Tell me who you are, what your background is, and how you ended up in the Canna craze?
From the Corporate World to CBD Sales and Education Training
Melissa Jane Stapley: Canna craze. I love it. That’s so true. So, I got into the industry at about the end of 2014. So, my background is, I played sports growing up my whole life. I played college volleyball in the Tango state. When I graduated, my background was primarily in real estate and then I got into sales I’ve always been in sales, whether it’s through for-profit education, or real estate doing loans. Um, so my background was always sells kind of corporate, corporate America, I guess you could say.
After college, I’d moved back to Arizona for five years but then I decided to go back to San Diego is where I went to college. And I got a job at Ashford University for-profit education and some friends that work there. I climbed the corporate ladder pretty quick, I was promoted pretty quick had a great job. But I had gone through. It’s a really cool store because I’ve gone through this seminar called The Landmark Forum. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it.
Sonia Gomez: Yes, love.
Melissa Jane Stapley: And I went through the whole thing I remember at the end of that I, at the end of the leadership program, I had said, and this was before I even really knew anything about the cannabis industry even becoming an industry what was going on. But I’d put out I was like, I want to get into an industry where I can make a difference and grow. Whether I grow the company or start my own thing, but also doing something that I know I’m really making a difference in helping people.
And so fast forward like six months, I’m sitting at a bar, a happy hour with my one of my best friends, we meet up for a happy hour, and we’re talking about sells talks about her job, she’s a sales manager, I’m a sales manager, so we’re just sitting there, you know, kind of talking shit, right about.
Sonia Gomez: Huh.
Melissa Jane Stapley: And this guy’s sitting next to us. He went there to watch the football game. And he kind of chimes in, this older guy kind of starts talking to us and we’re like, okay, and he’s brought up CBD. Like if you guys have heard about CBD, but you know that same story, we’re still here, right everyone, but I was like, I know a little bit about cannabis. I haven’t really, I don’t know much about CBD oil. I know obviously medical marijuana, I know it can help.
And so he gives us a whole spiel about how we just started with this company and they’re starting a sales group, you know, and CV Sciences back then they were called CannaVest and so they were one of the first there was like a group of them that had started and one of the first like probably traded CBD companies.
Sonia Gomez: Totally remember them. I’m a San Diego girl, too.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Oh, awesome. Serious? I love it.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, I lived out [unintelligible] I finished high school out there.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Oh, awesome. I love San Diego. And so yeah, you know, I was like, you know, I do I take sleeping pills. I was an athlete and always, you know, taking ibuprofen 800. I have some, you know, aches and pains and I take sleeping pills every night and I would like to get off of it. So do you think you’ll help me? I’ll try it out. So he gave me some samples and literally that weekend I tried it and I was amazed. I went to sleep. I didn’t take any [unintelligible] that weekend. Slept great. I had to take a lot of it. But–
Sonia Gomez: She was all drinking the bottle.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Yeah. Seriously. But then yeah, so I emailed him and I’m just like, you know, this actually really worked. I am kind of curious and I started just doing my own research, you know, and you want to go down that rabbit hole online, you start researching cannabis and CBD oil and all the Yeah, like benefits and going through everything and you’re like, cool–
Sonia Gomez: no turning back.
Melissa Jane Stapley: So I went in, I interviewed like five times because it’s one of those things where it’s like, it’s a huge step. You know, I have this cushy job making good money growing in this company, and I would have to take a huge pay cut, go start as a sales rep back in the cube, selling CBD to people who have no clue what it is. Six years ago, no one knew right. Barely.
And so but I did, that’s how I got in and I decided to take the risk. You know, a lot of people laughed at me. Through the last s and six years, you still have your moments where you wonder if it was the right decision because of all the [unintelligible]
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, like the hours between 6 and 9 pm every morning.
Melissa Jane Stapley: [laughter] between six and nine. Everybody loves it. So yeah, I got it. And that was the thing. You know, it was hard. It was one of those like, hey, just start calling people and selling CBD. This is the greatest thing everyone’s gonna want it. But again, you know, you’re starting to call people and it’s like, well, what is it? Why do I want it? Oh, it’s still related to marijuana? No. And you know, we can’t carry it yet or, and obviously, there still is a lot of uncertainty about the regulations or legality.
And so it was difficult, but then we were starting to get a lot of people calling in that were like, had these success stories or their friends had had success stories. And so they want to know how it could help them. And so, which that’s really cool, right? That’s when you really are like, Oh my gosh, this is helping people this is making a difference and that’s when you start to get really excited about it.
Sonia Gomez: Totally
Melissa Jane Stapley: What I had to do is it was like, Okay, how do I educate people but I barely had any education they literally gave us like a one-sheet and all the information on that I found it the other day in my cupboard and all the information on it, it’s completely changed since then. But it was just a one-sheet that we really didn’t know much so it’s like how do I educate these people to get them to understand how and why they should try it, or why these all you know, health professionals or health stores should carry it.
So that’s what I had to learn to do is Yeah, I had a sales training methodology, my background sales, sales management, I taught and trained a lot of people on a sales training methodology. I’ve gone through tons of seminars, but then it was like, Okay, how do I educate people from their level of understanding and so that’s how I was successful with the first two companies I worked within this industry is just I was really able to understand scale it backtalks to them and figures out where they’re coming from and be able to educate them based on that.
It’s the same thing with your family right when everyone’s laughing at you’re like how the heck are you in– like my mom’s first words were, “How the hell am I going to tell my family you sell weed?” You know, that was the same. So that’s what triggered me to start MJ Hybrid Solutions as I’d gone to another company [unintelligible] to help start their sales team. They were rolling out and I was working with dispensaries and you go in and you’re just like, you know, as a new consumer, you go in and a lot of these dispensers were still quote-unquote, called the trap houses, by music girls just kind of trying to sell whatever flower they were changing the name of the strains to go by what was popular.
Something’s got to be done to train these people, not only on education, but also on how to effectively communicate with the consumer, and how to bridge that gap.
Sonia Gomez: Totally
Melissa Jane Stapley: Right now, it’s such a critical factor because people are coming in trying it for the first time. They’re scared, they’re overwhelmed. There are all these products, they’re relying on the budtender. I mean, the budtender is the hardest job in this industry, like kudos to them for sure. People don’t get it and they don’t get enough credit and because you’re dealing with all different types of people. People come And they have no clue or just heard about it, they want to know– and most people they want to go in and they want to be told what to take, right? We want to go to the doctor’s office, and there are issues like tell me what to take to fix it.
Budtender’s Role in Educating and Empowering Customers
And so, when I created I call it the MJ Hybrid Training System because it’s a two-fold approach. So in order to meet consumers’ needs, you have to 1) know what you’re selling them cannabis education, product knowledge, and 2) know how to effectively communicate with them. And you know, and budtenders that effectively communicate, empower the customer, and empowered customers to purchase more and return. And so that’s kind of my motto like you got it. It’s sales training with education. And, and to me, the most important part really is the sales and customer service training because people are coming in, right.
To me, the most important part really is sales and customer service training. - MJ Stapley Click To Tweet
Cannabis works differently for everybody. One product doesn’t work the same for every single person. So you have to learn how to guide them and talk to them and make them feel confident but also be real that like, Hey, you got to play with the dose and you got to figure out what works for you. But if you build that trust and confidence with them and you’re authentic, they’re going to come back to you. And there’s they’re going to be confident in wanting to continue to try cannabis.
Sonia Gomez: I think education is probably one of my biggest passions and biggest pet peeves all at the same. Because I’m like, it’s always left for interpretation. I feel like you tell somebody like, this is what it is, and this is how it is. And then they’re like, perfect. I’m gonna make it into this, you know, and that’s fine. But the challenges is like without a standard sort of baseline message that we agree upon and share as an industry, the consumer who I get a lot of interface with, having a million followers and such. I mean, I literally get one message every three seconds in my messenger, on my fan page. So I’m getting consumer feedback all day long. And there’s so much misinformation, so much miseducation, the dispensaries, the CBD stores, the pharmacies that are adopting it in, there’s just very little to no resources.
So I’m so excited about your business model because I think it really solves a necessary problem. And this is a perfect example of an ancillary business that solves a really specific problem and still allows you to be, you know, heavily active and recognized and respected in the industry without having to own your own “product” and be cannabis industry.
MJ Hybrid Training Solutions Business Model
Melissa Jane Stapley: Yeah and back to education with products. That’s the thing and I know because I work with two brands, you conform your education around your brand right around your product, and what are these brands are doing is you’re trying to create a unique product, right? How is your product different? And so then that’s another reason the education gets miscued because you’re kind of conforming it to your brand. And so now it’s like I have that unbiased approach. And I still you know, so I partnered with a doctor Dr. Jean Talleyrand for Medican. He one of the first doctors in California to start prescribing medical marijuana.
Sonia Gomez: Yep he was my prescribing doctor.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Oh. And I talked to so many nurses and people that go through so I’m very fortunate that he’s written a lot of education content. But that’s why we partnered up is my whole thing with him was like, how do we make it approachable? Because one is different. We’re still learning and it’s the same thing with him. It’s all anecdotal. Like he’s working with patients and he has worked with hundreds of thousands of patients and that’s kind of what he’s going off of. Right. But how do we make it approachable, and then he didn’t really want to get in front of the camera and he gets asked a lot about it.
So that’s what he really liked my approach and he liked it even like the sales training approach, which is really hard for a doctor or nurse sometimes to understand and get why I’m doing the sales training. They think techniques are misconstrued but they don’t understand what I’m trying to do is really help people effectively communicate and ask the right question. And understand the customer, which in the long term, they’re going to sell more if they do it that way, and they’re meeting their needs, right?
Sonia Gomez: Totally. And they’ll get, it’s not about making the sale the first time it’s about building the trust and rapport so that they come back and become a repeat customer. That’s the challenge is that most budtenders treat it like the sale right then rather than looking at creating an experience that somebody wants to come back to over and over again. And that’s all around the trust.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Yep. And that’s what Dr. Taylor and when we first got together it was that’s what he set up Medicann in these locations that people go in their doctors are telling them what to get right. But then you go into a dispensary and they may not have that product, and you’re just kind of going into whatever dispensary is closest to you.
Melissa Jane Stapley: And then what’s happening is then they go in there that may have that specific product or ratio available. So then they’re selling them on something else. And these patients were calling off the tire and like oh, well I ended up getting this. So it’s frustrating because you’re trying to do research. You’re trying to see what works. You give them something to go by. But the dispensary doesn’t necessarily have that there’s a gap of like the product connection from the doctor and what products are available.
And so that was the whole thing, too, is Yeah, we need to teach them and help guide them. So even if they don’t have that specific product, they’re asking the questions or they’re able to understand and guide them to a product that’s similar, or directing them to a place where they can get that product.
When you’re behind the counter, I see it all the time, these new people come in, and when you do talk to them, and you’re guiding them, and you’re helping them become competent, even that first purchase, they want to purchase the whole store. People are so excited. And so they will if they feel confident in who they’re speaking to, right, yeah.
And so it’s like, you don’t have to, you know, try to trick them or anything, but they will literally like– I see it time and time again if they’re competent in one product, then they’re like, well, what else do you have? I happen to have this and you can keep that going and they will purchase more even the first time. And then if something doesn’t work, they’ll come back or you know, and say, Hey, this didn’t really work. Let’s try something else because they want to work with you. [unintelligible] say people are loyal people.
And, and so yeah, it’s, you know, Dr. Talleyrand, I’ve been very fortunate he does a great job. But sometimes what I’ll do is I’ll take his scripts, I’m the one that does the videos like I do the training myself, but I’ll take his scripts and sometimes I’ll still cut things out. So I’m like, okay, coming from a 21-year-old like if I can’t pronounce this word for me, then I’m pretty sure and that’s my approach is I’m a salesperson my whole life. So how, how are we translating these people that aren’t doctors and nurses being able to educate in a way that makes it approachable, especially for the 90% that come into these dispensaries or CBD retail stores that don’t know anything. And they don’t really want to know everything. They don’t need to know everything. They kind of just want to know what’s best for them.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, like, is this gonna work for me and why is it a better option? Yeah, why is it a better option than what I’m already using? Which is Advil, ibuprofen
Melissa Jane Stapley: So yeah, it’s very interesting because and then that’s now to with Dr. Talleyrand, that’s what I love about him is we still, you know, we’ll be on the phone and I’ll kind of bring up like, Oh, yeah, so I see this product out there, you know, you CBG now is a big thing or CBN, Should we do training on it? He’s like, oh, there’s not enough research or there’s conflicting evidence, like, there’s no you don’t want to waste doing it if it’s going to change, right? Because things are ever-changing. Even terpenes and how they form and what they work within are changing.
Melissa Jane Stapley: And so it’s hard because brands, you know, you like you talk about, there’s a lot of miseducation or someone comes out or a doctor scientist says one thing because that’s what it’s looking like. So people run with it right and build a product around it. But then six months in a year, they might realize, Oh, it’s actually not that terpene that benefits or it’s actually a combination of this that helps.
Then it’s like from a brand point of view, Yeah, you have to stay on top of that. So you can never change and I get the whole marketing aspect on selling your brand, right like, you’re [inaudible] I get it. But it’s hard as an educated person to be like, I can’t really guarantee that like, I’m trying to come from an unbiased, like, we really still don’t know what’s going on. But let me just teach you how to do the basics of how to like, talk about it and make people understand that, that we’re still researching and we’re still learning. And so I always joke like, there’s no actual expert in the space, right? Like, that’s still ever-changing.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, absolutely. It’s it changes all the time. Here. Here. I want to ask you a couple of questions. Number one is, what is your full scale of offers? Like what kind of training Do you offer? Do you have multiple trainings, do you have any certifications? Anything like that?
The 6-Step Process Training Methodology
Melissa Jane Stapley: Yeah. So my primary training program is geared towards dispensaries or CBD retailers more of the consumer-facing employees. I do kind of have an idea. It’s a majority of its online, they go online They get their own personal link through my platform right and so they have their own access as a company and they can have an admin that overlooks it and then I assign certain trainings based on if they’re a dispensary I have sales training that are geared towards the dispensary versus like a CBD hemp store and trainings that are sells for enroll plays based on CBD hemp products.
Melissa Jane Stapley: And then there’s the education portion. so The education section I kind of break it up. So I have like the sales training Part One cannabis education part one, sales training Part Two cannabis education part two, so I have a lot of companies that do just education, right, um, where they can just go into educating their team, any type of company that has they’re hiring people, right everyone kind of still needs to know about a little bit about cannabis and the lingo in this industry. But the primary focus has been on dispensaries and CBD retailers, but I am I do have a B2B. My sales training is I have my initial bread and butter is a six-step Training methodology.
Sonia Gomez: It focuses people are your product, listening F.O.R, closing the loop, upselling, overcoming objections retention and referrals and that’s the sixth step so I have that kind of formatted for dispensary CBD retailers and then b2b kind of for brand ambassadors that I just rolled out so like you know distributors and stuff that they want to sign up their staff just to give them a little bit of that sales training how to go in and speak to the purchasers.
Melissa Jane Stapley: And then also something I’m really trying to dive into is you know, there are so many brands on the market. so many different products right, especially in California. So I’m really trying to work on some different brand templates, training so that I can give kind of bread and butter of like how to train like so if a brand ambassador goes into a dispensary to do brand training, how do you train them? How do you train them to sell your product? Because I see that as a huge issue as well.
Because right everyone lives in this. Oh, we have the best product ever and it’s like but there are so many products now you can’t doesn’t work that way. So you got to build a relationship with the people that you got to get them to trust you and then they’re going to sell your product more, one. Two, how do you train the budtenders to sell your product so it’s teaching them the steps on how to speak about the product versus just talking about why the product so great.
So that’s my next goal is that and leadership training. So my goal ultimately is to build [unintelligible] corporate training platform. And so you know, there’s still a lot of holes in this industry is growing. It grew so fast and then like, you talked about it a little bit crazy. There’s a lot of cutbacks we’re kind of going through that. Um, what’s it called? Like the reset?
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, totally. It’s the industry Exodus. Right now, there’s all this like, everyone is sort of, you know, trying to decide who’s going to be the who there’s lots of hostile takeovers happening, companies who can’t quite cut it. And I think a lot of the training that you have in place.
We developed a couple of similar things. And this is why I’m such a big advocate for training because when I was running a brick and mortar business, I almost never wanted to be gone because I was the most educated person in a dispensary. And sure I had like hip, ham thumb, beautiful people working, you know, that we’re smart and more personable and all of these things but when it really came down to like, understanding the strains. This was a very new industry there was this this is not a way that we were used to talking about cannabis. It was like, yo, you got a bag like–
Melissa Jane Stapley: Open my trunk.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah. So is quite a bit different. Until this one girl came in her name is Amy [unintelligible]. She worked with me for quite a while and she went on to be the head of marketing and distribution for Willie Nelson’s Reserve.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Okay.
Sonia Gomez: She is a righteous badass. I mean, literally, the way that she talked, her tonality, how she served customers, how she always was thinking ahead, she kicked off this campaign start called the cans for cones like she is the unicorn gem that you want in your dispensary who, whether she knows it or not, you believe her. You know what I mean?
Melissa Jane Stapley: Yeah.
Sonia Gomez: Sometimes you just got to make them believe that you know what you’re you’re talking? She was the MVP of the store for sure. And that was a lot of my inspiration, just watching and seeing how somebody can be or could be taught. You know, she would definitely emulate a lot of things that I would do or say but I wouldn’t have to teach or coach her because she would just listen and then duplicate.
And vice versa, I have tons to learn from her as well. So I loved working with her and that was a lot of the inspiration behind wanting to create– I created the CBD mastery program which is a program specifically to teach people about CBD. How to use it, how to sell it, how to recommend somebody else to use it.
And then we created the natural health coach certification which helps medical professionals integrate cannabis or cannabinoid-rich remedies into their practices. So massage therapists, nurses, doctors, you know, chiropractors, pharmacies, those are the type of people that benefit from my trainings.
And so when I saw what you were doing for budtenders, I was like, ah, pure g. this is pure genius. I love it. So and so necessary. You’re right. The budtender has the hardest job. They’re the representation of the business. Have you ever heard of the Budtender Awards?
Melissa Jane Stapley: Yeah, I have. It was in Las Vegas?
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, it was in Las Vegas. It’s a pretty big event. And I’m like, super excited to go and to see these different folks and find out who’s who like, who’s doing it right in which dispensary? I know Native Roots had one, had a winner there, and a few other brands, too. So that s pretty awesome.
[crosstalk] Like I know for us what I know from attending events like Native Roots, I know they have a really good in-person training program. A lot of you know the larger chains obviously, when you have bigger money you’ll kind of create or you want one that’s more of a branded internal. So I know they have a great training process. And that’s so that’s probably why they’re budtenders are winning.
Melissa Jane Stapley: And that’s what I did too, is I work with a lot of big chains to do customization. You know, it’s like, well, I have my content, it’s already been proven to work so you can license it and if you want to brand it cool, right? So or I’ll even go in I’ve done in-person training. [unintelliible] So there’s a lot of variety. Everyone’s kind of different on what they like.
I think it’s important to have online access to training. I know some people are big on the in-person, which is great. You know, I believe in both. I’m big on the implementation. And so I provide training guide and an implementation plan a 10 10 10 plan goal setting for managers because my whole thing is yes, they can go on and do the training, but are they implementing it?
Sonia Gomez: Yeah.
Melissa Jane Stapley: As a manager in lead, you have to ensure that you’re actually on the floor listening you have to go through the training and make sure they’re actually implementing and using what they learn.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah.
Melissa Jane Stapley: And that’s a big part of it because I want people to get results like you can’t just throw them on so many dispensaries. Bless their heart, but there’s so many of them just let it fall through the cracks because there all over the place. Right, everyone’s busy. That’s fine. There’s a lot of compliance with a lot of regulations a lot of day to day and so it’s I’m very big on like, all be checking in with my customers, even after they pay and they’re doing the training. I want to make sure they’re actually implementing it.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, totally.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Back to that landmark. I told you when I kind of said I wanted to get an industry where I can grow and make a difference. When I started the business, that was my whole thinking like, Okay, I have I still have great relationships with some of my initial clients in the industry. And so, for me, it was okay if I’m making a difference if I can help patients, clients, customers, and myself if I can build training that I use that’s helped me be a successful salesperson in this industry. And I can train and help develop others to do the same. It’s kind of that 10 x model or 100. x model, then it’s helping this many people that are coming in.
And I’ll get calls from people or they’ll put in like a note like, Oh, yeah, I went to this dispensary, and they had your training. And even from people in the industry, like distributor call, like, Oh, yeah, a few dispensers I went into, they’ve all done your training, and I thought they were great, you know. And so it’s cool to hear that. And it’s cool to talk to these people and hear how they’re helping other people, right? Because right now, it matters. Every customer that comes in. I get that where there are competition dispensers up the street, but everyone needs to be training to be on their game because we’re still trying to end the stigma.
Everyone needs to be training to be on their game because we're still trying to end the stigma. - MJ Stapley Click To Tweet
We’re still trying to get people to understand and have access to it and so these every customer that comes in every time like they need to have that great experience, because how many times you try something one time you don’t like it or you had a bad experience, you’re never gonna try it again. Right? Like, whatever like you go in. It’s like oh, whatever. It’s all placebo kind of like the CBD industry, everyone. It tried it, it did ‘t work one time. Yeah, Bo. Yeah. Well, you just kind of need a lot of CBD sometimes.
Sonia Gomez: Sometimes you got to double down.
Melissa Jane Stapley: [unintelligible] too the CBD industry, there’s a lot of products out there. And there’s a lot of great products. And it’s saturated. And you know, and there’s like you talked about, there’s a lot of people trying to just push it, push it right now make a quick buck. But it is this industry is a long term game. You want to succeed. Like if you weren’t an early person getting in right now if you’re getting in, you want to succeed, it’s a long term game.
You got to focus on your customer and focus on your people, first and foremost. And I think people are starting to finally get that I see a lot of talk about it now on LinkedIn. And that’s what I’ve been preaching. If you focus on people more than your product, you’re going to be successful.
Sonia Gomez: Such good advice.
Melissa Jane Stapley: longer success.
Sonia Gomez: Right, exactly. And I want to ask you this, because, you know, we’re seeing more and more unsuspecting characters join in on the green rush, whether it’s professionally or just picking up the product as a patient. One of the things that really, like left me shook was when I started to have some of my Mormon friends and family and colleagues hitting me up asking me about product and they would and they would be like hiding behind somebody’s closet and they’d be like, [unintelligible][laughter]
Can you, you know that stuff that you’re within that stuff you got? Can you send me some and I’d be like, what? No, yes.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Like, you send it to this address with this name.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, exactly.
Melissa Jane Stapley: I grew up Mormon, just so you know.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, I know. I know that you grew up Mormon, I know that you come from a pretty relatively conservative family. And I also know that you’re a boss babe and somewhat of a pioneer, especially in your family, but you know, joining in an industry that was, you know, six years ago now no one was talking about CBD. Nobody even knew who that was. CannaVest was like, the, it was like the boiler room of the sales industry, you know, back then, because nobody knew what CBD was. And so for you to have been in that space was probably like, you know, people are like, What the fuck is this stuff even that you’re talking?
So tell me a little bit about the feedback that you got or the reaction that you got from your family and has that shifted at all?
MJ’s Family’s Reception to Her Chosen Career
Melissa Jane Stapley: Yes, yeah. So yeah, like, so like, when I first started I told my mom that was kind of her first reaction was like, How the hell am I supposed to tell people in the That you’re selling cannabis. She was kind of like cracking jokes and kind of like, Wait, are you serious? And so for me, it was and this is kind of what I tell people. It was all about education and but educating them from their understanding. So what happens a lot, right. And you’ve known for 35 years, you said, right, that you’ve been advocating
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, between the two of us.
Melissa Jane Stapley: I’m sure you’ve heard every story in the book or everything about how bad it is gateway drug what and I had a brother who had a lot of drug issues growing up and he got caught growing weed in our front yard one time. So, my mom’s had it was like, Oh, well, marijuana was his first drug or what he always got caught with, and then he got into hardcore drugs. It’s a gateway drug.
And so, it’s like, what happens though is we get defensive, right? It’s easy to get defensive when you’re trying to advocate for something and you’re trying to get defensive and you start just mumbling all this stuff about why it’s so great this and that and these people are just kind of like, okay, whatever, but you really have to step back and understand them, and so instead of getting defensive, you really just have to understand where they’re coming from.
And when people are growing up their whole life or you know, hearing that it’s the devil’s lettuce or it’s this or that, you just have to understand that that’s what all they know. And so it’s slowly educating them and for me, I got in on the CBD hemp side, so it was a little bit easier to ease in right, so I started with that and it was just one thing at a time.
My dad Oh, he had he didn’t have he wasn’t totally diagnosed with diabetes was like pre-diabetic. And he was taking a couple of pills a day and I got him on CBD oil and it helps he went to the doctor a few months later, and his blood sugar levels were the best they’ve been in years. And you know, so then he became a believer.
Then, my sister, I had my nephew who had some ADHD and he was diagnosed that she really didn’t want to get them on Ritalin. And so you know, she had heard fish oil help. So I was like, why don’t you just give them the small like hundred-milligram tincture of CBD oil, just to try it a little bit and so he did that for a while and she noticed a difference but then it was hard because in junior high and it’s kind of like why CBD oil they still couldn’t you know put it next to weed so he was a little embarrassed I think to take it so, it took some time.
Fast forward now and then even at you know family events or Thanksgiving my uncle my they’re just laughing at me, they’re like why are you doing like marijuana like what is going on? Who are you now Missy and since they call me Missy my family? But now fast forward. I have an uncle who was diagnosed, I have an aunt and uncle who were both got really sick recently. And same thing my cousin, his son, my cousin was kind of starting to become an advocate. I would start sending him you know, he would ask me about CBD products.
So slowly one by one people are calling you messaging you. I just got a message from my aunt on my mom’s side. She’s trying to find CBD oil for her husband. It looks like you start getting these messages like you talked about and that’s the crazy thing is my uncle. Because he got this type of blood cancer, he got put on all these pills and recently the last Thanksgiving my cousin was like, hey, I want you to talk to my dad about it and he was like yeah the doctor you know did say he wrote me a medical marijuana prescription so I’m considering it because I do want to get off and but you know, he was taking Ambien. I’m having trouble sleeping.
So, I was like, Okay, I’ll get you a product because, in Arizona, I was looking at some of the products. I don’t know him as well. So I’m like, Well, next time I come down for Christmas, I’ll bring some products from California that I think will help you. And so sure enough, I brought them I did the Papa & Barkley123.
Sonia Gomez: Love Papa & Barkley.
Melissa Jane Stapley: I shouldn’t be admitting that I like took that over Stateline. Yes. But you know, I knew I needed to start him small and he wasn’t gonna smoke and a tincture, not Yeah, Papa & Barkley have a great reputation. And so and it’s a family-friendly, you know, I was like, Okay, this is a great product to start with. And I got that and then care by design four to one so a high CBD product for him to take during the day.
So yeah, Within like, a couple of weeks, they messaged me back like, Oh, we need more of that product. Like, he got off Ambien. He loves it. And he told me he’s like, I’m sleeping great. But it was still like you said, we’re at a family function. And he’s like, I’m sleeping great. But no one knows yet. So don’t really say anything. Like I haven’t told anybody. And he was a politician. He was like a superintendent, a representative in Arizona.
And so it was just funny because he’s that he’s all about it. And then my other hands coming up to me asking me questions being all quiet. So it’s like everyone in my family y’all are doing it, no one talks about. And you’re all here asking me questions, but none of you are talking to each other about it.
Sonia Gomez: They’re all trying to get you in though. in the cellar. They’re like, I’m just gonna run down and let me help you with those boxes, Melissa.
Melissa Jane Stapley: And it was the same thing with my dad. And you know, and my sister, bless her heart too. It’s when I started the training company and that’s what she would start telling people like they would be asking me what I do and I got a CBD but now I work with you know, dispensary’s and my sister was like, yeah, now she helps like educate the medical marijuana patients. I was like, no, sis, I help recreational.
Like right like so many people think the recreational medical is so different and they’re not. When you look at recreational dispensary 80% 60% of the people going in are going in to get consumed cannabis for a reason for some type of ailment. And so it’s like and we know right the cannabis there’s a different type of cannabis it’s the same it’s just you as a medical you might be able to purchase more but you’re getting the same product.
So, again back to education and but it was like a slow like okay, just keep telling people that Yeah, I help medical patients you know, and then slowly get them to understand like no now I’m training all stores or now I’m working even you know retailers teaching people like you all they just want to come in and get high. Well, this is how you speak to them.
So it’s interesting and but yeah like you said, it’s just so funny because there are so many closets. I always kind of joke with the whole political campaign, right? I’m like they’re just like there’s a bunch of closet Trump fans. No one wants to admit that they liked Trump but for him to be winning like okay there’s some people probably that are voting for him that pretend they’re not because they don’t want to be like cut off. I guess that’s how it is with cannabis, there’s a lot of closets like cannabis people that are starting to get into it but they’re still worried because there’s still that stigma or there have a church calling.
So yeah, I mean it’s interesting to see but it’s also so great to see how far it’s come in that six years and I love getting those text messages or calls because it’s just like these people that laughed at me or people that have we’re just like in no way shape or form ever going to try it or now like holy crap. I’m you know, the opioid issue and this is helping with that and you know, Utah just opened its first medical marijuana dispensary last night.
Sonia Gomez: Now, I know this is why I’m talking about it because I’m telling you what if the Mormons are going to do it [unintelligible]
Melissa Jane Stapley: I was talking to a friend last night that I was with and we were talking about Arizona you know I’m like yeah, I think Arizona is gonna be going recreational next is starting definitely become more of a democratic state, I guess if you can put it.
And Utah, they opened their first store in Utah has had such a big opioid crisis. So like if they start opening these dispensaries and they start to see a reduction in the opioid crisis, then you’d better believe they’re going to start. It will go that way. And look at Oklahoma. Oklahoma or some of these states that you’re like never would think and [unintelligible] more than California.
Sonia Gomez: Dude, as a matter of fact, I’m not even allowed to vote on what state is happening next because I would not have seen that coming. It might as well have been a snake-like I did not see that coming. I thought Oklahoma was going to be right there next to Alabama like never let it anyone do anything ever and here they are. They’re more progressive than any other state in this whole freaking country. I can’t even believe it. It’s crazy what’s happening down there. A few of my clients and partners are down there and I’m like y’all are just rolling in the cannabis dope. killing it down there like it is crazy.
Melissa Jane Stapley: And you know, it’s great to see– we’re starting to see a lot of frustration too right? Because a lot of people are coming in and trying to make a quick buck or they don’t really understand cannabis. And so again and I always even whatever podcast or anything I’m speaking on one we always got to remember to give kudos to people that paved the way right?
Sonia Gomez: yeah.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Well, there are so people sitting in jail which is sad that they are for marijuana. And so it’s cool to see because that’s what we want. We want everyone to have access to it. We want there to be researched. We want it to become normal, but it’s frustrating because we, I think a lot of times people forget, like where it came from, especially in California.
California is such an old state. Because as you call it, you know, like, it’s just it’s been around and a lot of people that, you know, the craft cannabis that knows it in and out. And then you got these big guys coming in trying to make money and you, you know, it’s kind of got to bridge that gap and work together. And so it’s, I don’t know, it’s like one of those things. It’s so awesome to see. But it’s also treading lightly and making sure that people understand the importance of interactively educating themselves and realizing what people have done and fought for us to get to where we are.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, man [crosstalk] Yeah, man, I come from that. I come from that background. I was born in Santa Cruz raised in and all throughout the Northern part of California Central Coast, like, I’m a Cali girl at heart. And that’s pretty much where the seed was cracked, you know? And so I’m very familiar. Many family and friends are the pioneers of this space and every day I have to give them shout outs and kudos.
And at the same time, I will say, you know, with pretty clear confidence that a lot of those folks I have struggled to keep up with the time and I think that a lot of the education, the culture, the information that made this plant and its remedy is so amazing got lost in the hills with those senior folks and that there wasn’t a lot of opportunity or space made for them to make the transition. So, that’s tough.
Melissa Jane Stapley: It’s hard when you’re you know, you’re keeping it quiet underground for so long. A lot of them too that’s what they’re in the trenches working. And then it’s now it’s become a business and a legal business and when you focus and you’re so good at one thing you don’t learn like the business side of it, right?
So you can be a great grower but then understanding the business side and I think that’s the other thing for a lot of people, it’s like, Look if you come from this background you ought to use utilize that to your benefit. And this is where it’s going. So how do you work with these people that are coming in because they need you? And you got to learn to leverage that and then but what’s happening is a lot of people are butting heads, right? Because you take it personal.
You have been working in now there’s not that transition. You know, it’s the whole thing with the cultivation in California right now is kind of crazy. And seeing the loopholes like with the big businesses, and it does it you feel for them, it sucks, like, they don’t deserve that they should be in the front lines, they should be working with these big companies, helping them create great products versus getting shut out.
So, you’ve got to learn to kind of weed your way and you do you need a business. You know, a lot of these companies that I see that have been around that no weed they partner with business strategic people are bringing in consultants to help them market it right.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Consumers will go they want that craft cannabis. They want what’s best. They want to buy it from A grower that knows it. I always say like you can have a little culture in your store like I see people come in and they’re infatuated. Yeah, you don’t need to the girls in the crop tops and chokers and like whatever you don’t have to come off as like a total Oh, this is you know Stoneville dispensary but at the same time you can still have great customers coming in and love your store and it doesn’t have to be the apple of weed You know, it doesn’t have to be like an apple store. It’s good to have a little bit of that culture because I think it’s good for people to learn that.
And when they understand that they respect it more and i think people are open to that but again, it comes down to how do you communicate it so when you’re talking about a new consumer comes in a lot of budtenders tend to think oh, the taxes it’s expensive so they resort to the lowest product or they resort to a product that’s more mainstream versus actually understand the customer that might actually want that OG craft, a flower or dab that my you know that that they feel they trust that person knows what they’re doing but it’s just how do you communicate that right?
Sonia Gomez: Yeah. Well, that’s why I think your training is so important because, you know, people need to create a universal language that allows them to effectively communicate, and also collaborate on the way that we were a self-governing agency right now or industry right now, if we don’t set the standard of how we want to talk about think about discuss, you know, cannabis in our families and communities who’s going to do it. Please don’t leave it up to the big business to do because look at where that’s left us, you know, so I read–
Melissa Jane Stapley: Look at a lot of those big businesses that are struggling, all the layoffs going on, right, they came in thinking is a glamorous thing, and they know what they’re doing. And then yeah, a lot of them are going under, layoff.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, absolutely. I’m really interested to know like, I have a lot of folks who asked me about how they can apply their skill sets to this industry and two to, you know, to make headway whether they’re joining somebody else’s team or joining yours. For you, what are some of the challenges that are preventing you from growing or making the impact that you want to make right now? And we know that you’ve applied your sales skills and corporate background and tailored, you know, training to serve this industry? What are some of the challenges that are preventing you from making a big impact right now?
Obstacles in Growing the Business
Melissa Jane Stapley: So and oh, my gosh, that’s it’s funny because people think I’m killing it right. I think everyone in this industry is killing it. And it’s been a struggle from the beginning because 1) getting a hold of dispensaries, they’re all getting bombarded, getting hold of the decision-maker. It takes time and a lot of business in this industry. It comes from referrals and relationships. So I’ve partnered, I’ve had a lot of people that would reach out like, Oh, we want to license your content or put it on our platform because we’re doing this type of training or this type of product we’re offering and it’d be a great asset.
And so for a lot last year, a lot of times I was partnering without really charging upfront like just it was a revenue share. How much money have I made? Zero from those. You know why cuz they thought they could just come in and cold call or sell this product and they don’t realize that it’s not the same in this industry. The retail is different and so a lot of people are struggling and so people have to understand that like you have to network you got to know people.
I’ve been in this industry for almost six years and I still like right now this year because of the changes this industry is going through and turnover is high and layoffs and a lot of people come into this industry thinking Oh, it’s weed. It’s so cool. I love weed I want to help people. But then they get in it’s a real job. Like it’s still you have to deal with people you have to know how to you know, sell businesses have to make money. You have today in and day out. There’s the same type of stuff you have to do. And it’s difficult.
So, then you know, there is a lot of turnovers and there is a lot of movement things going around because almost everyone in this industry is a startup right? Not everyone, but for the most part, it’s like startups, basically, your first few years, it can be from three years to 10 years can be a startup. Yeah. And so that’s the biggest challenge is people come in thinking that they’re gonna bring a skill set they have from another industry to apply this industry, which we need it right. But they don’t realize how hard and how long it takes to build that.
And so this last two months, I’ll be honest, have been the slowest months for me. Because this industry right now is kind of going through that change. And with everything kind of going on, it’s been difficult to get ahold of the right people, or there are people saying, Oh, yeah, I need to put it off for a little bit or budgeting or money-wise. And so, it’s me, but you got to you know, it’s kind of like my whole thing is I’m very well overhead right now.
I was gonna partner with another training company, and I backed out last minute because it’s one of those things like, okay, you’re trying to do a lot of things and I feel like the beginning of 2020 is gonna be very slow. We’re all going through those changes. And so for me, it’s like, okay, I can handle myself my business it’s all you know, online training, I don’t have a lot of overhead, the contents there. So it’s like if I can just take my time slow and steady, then I’ll come out in the end.
And I’m already seeing a lot of people that are leaving this industry or like, Oh, I need to get out of it. It’s too hard. It’s not I’m not making money. But I’m like, we’re just at the beginning. We’re literally just at the beginning. So if you can make it through and find your place and build those relationships and network and understand the industry inside and out. You’re going to make it long term. It’s just going to take a while Gary Vee said that when he got in this industry, it’s like the alcohol industry. He that’s where he came from his background. It’s very similar with the regulations and legalities that it’s at least a 10-year game plan.
Sonia Gomez: Wait, is Gary Vee in the cannabis industry?
Melissa Jane Stapley: He’s invested in it. Yeah, he owns a marketing. Have you heard of Hall of Flowers?
Sonia Gomez: No.
Melissa Jane Stapley: So Hall of Flowers is what [crosstalk] I’m trying to go to the one in April in Palm Springs, but it’s a big B2B show in California for buyers and retailers.
Sonia Gomez: Uh-huh.
Melissa Jane Stapley: And his group I think it’s Green Street marketing or green. He’s a big investor in so he comes and speaks he doesn’t have a ton of play in the cannabis industry but he invested in this marketing company. And they put on Hall of Flowers and it’s actually been it’s been viewed as like one of the best trade shows in California.
Sonia Gomez: Sick I’m gonna check it out.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Yeah, I need I still need to apply me to try to go they’re very strict on like, they want buyers retailers the first day so and then the brands and so that’s why it does so well is because these product companies can go and they know people coming into the show are primarily buyers from the retailers. And so and then they open up a little bit to ancillaries. The second day are people within the industry but you still have to apply and they have to accept you to go in. So it’s cool because it is very network relationship-oriented and you can actually sell your product you know, so it’s been vetted as a great one of the best shows.
Sonia Gomez: Love it.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Well wrote a virus they said as of yesterday they’re keeping the show on they sent out an email.
Sonia Gomez: Oh my god, I have to ask you about this whole thing because I myself am tripping like a beyotch Coronavirus are we gonna die or should I just stop tripping?
Melissa Jane Stapley: No I’m not tripping. Again, I see all the things on the news but I’m a big believer in the overhype of things on the news.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, yeah.
Melissa Jane Stapley: And so it obviously is a serious thing and there’s a lot like the natural products show this week. I was planning on going to that in Anaheim because there’s a lot of CBD companies that go to that and had a boost and they literally canceled it the day before it was starting.
Sonia Gomez: No, I know.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Well, that affected all those small CBD brands because they can’t not like that, that Expo, they put so much work and money into it. They can’t just pay them back. It’s made basically like we’re going to try to postpone the show and give you credit but they canceled it because people come from all over the world for that show.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah
Melissa Jane Stapley: And a lot of the big companies were backing out. And so that’s why they canceled it, I think is because the bigger companies that are global, are like, we can’t take this risk. And so that canceled, there’s I mean, there’s been a ton of events getting canceled, and it’s a lot of those events that are kind of more global or national. So there’s a lot of people that come in from different places.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah
Melissa Jane Stapley: Look at Hall of Flower. That’s primarily California. People dry. Yeah, it’s just California. So I do think that will stay on. But I guess it depends on how you know if it gets worse. I’m skating with my friend that gets married in Arizona next month. Her fiance’s family’s from the east coast and he’s already he’s freaking out like, are they gonna not want to come? Because a lot of people are scared to fly.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah. I mean, I’m not gonna lie to you. Like, I am nervous. I was just in the airports. I was just on the airplanes.
Melissa Jane Stapley: I was just in Mexico. I know.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah like, I am nervous. My husband doesn’t want to hear shit from me. He’s like, what the fuck are you gonna do? You’re gonna run, like, where are you gonna run to and I’m just like, you’re not being supportive.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Well, there was this meme that was put out and talked about like, every two years, there’s like, oh, the Ebola virus is gonna kill us or the Zika virus, you know. So again, there’s been a lot if you look at the history of the last 20 years, there’s been a lot of these different viruses that have come and so are they overplaying and scaring us? Or is it really that serious?
I was at the grocery store. I’m in Santa Monica and I was at the grocery store yesterday, and I saw people just loading up and they had water bottles everywhere, and I’m like, oh, shoot, should I be loading up on stuff? Like, are we gonna like quarantined in our house? Like, because we’re in Santa Monica. We’re not gonna get stuck in a snowstorm.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, yeah, sure. Well, I personally am nervous about it. And I think I definitely think that at there’s a well because–
Melissa Jane Stapley: [crosstalk] we’re healthier, younger people. I think it’s more dangerous for older people, right? [crosstalk]
Sonia Gomez: It is moms and I’m Greek so like I’m sucking up on On Windex and I’m just kidding. I’m just put some Windex on it. No, I’m nervous. You want to know what I’m nervous about? I am nervous because I’m one of those hippie moms who opted out of vaccinating my kids, number one.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Yeah.
Sonia Gomez: Which makes me super proud right now because I’m like, okay, cool, like my kids, new immune systems, they’re healthy all the fucking time. You know, like, my daughter doesn’t get sick when she goes to preschool like most of the other kids do. And, so I feel pretty good about that. But I’ve also subscribed somewhat of a mini conspiracy theorist and I subscribed to these unchartered or like unrestricted news channels and I have a lot of friends who are, like, just happened to be infectious disease scientists. Because, anyways, through another friend, that’s how I got tied into that circle. So they’re the wrong people, either I almost can’t even talk to them right now because they’re the wrong people to be talking to. They’re like, no, seriously, this is bad, it’s gonna get worse. And I’m like, no.
Melissa Jane Stapley: [crosstalk] I mean, that’s what a lot of probably is your business similar you meet people at these shows. these cannabis shows so if they do start canceling every single show event, it’s gonna hurt a lot of people.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah
Melissa Jane Stapley: And for those of us that are still you know, not in millions like every week matters when you’re an entrepreneur, right every call every networking event, every relationship so it is it scary and I’m sure there’s a lot of people already hurting from it. So, my friend, he works for a global company, and they’ve cut back. they canceled their yearly conference and everything’s virtual right now. They’re like limiting trips for the people to travel. So maybe it must be a big deal.
It’s like some of these big companies are willing to lose millions right now to you know, prevent so I don’t know. And cannabis that’s the thing too when you go to these events people cannabis is very well known to be you know everyone loves each other right when you’re smoking a joint everyone shares a joint and so that’s the other thing you do you have to be careful at this shows like, I can’t go hit your joint right after you’ve let five people hit it right?
[crowsstalk] Did you do what’s your high? You love everybody? It’s like, Oh, you want to hit like, you know, this industry is so friendly.
Sonia Gomez: It’s so friendly. I’m like now I’ve got I have a personal bond over here. Like I found myself at the bank not wanting to shake hands.
Melissa Jane Stapley: You pull out those little things to put over it. Like Yeah, I don’t like it when you do hookah.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly what’s happening right now. That’s the worst. I hate it. Um, the final question I have for you. You have done some incredible things in this space and you’ve made a really successful transition and I love your mindset and understanding that this is a brand new Baby no matter how many years it’s been here, we’re all still trying to figure it out because the rules have not been established yet. So we’re all just at the same level, some have more money than others.
But I, for me, I feel like you’ve made a really successful transition. And there’s a lot of people out there who are trying to figure out how to make the quantum leap into the cannabis industry, whether it’s joining somebody else’s brand or starting their own, what would be one key piece of advice that you could offer to somebody in this somebody who is considering jumping into this space right now?
Words of Wisdom
Melissa Jane Stapley: One, I think, be prepared. Understand that it’s not going to be easy. So being you know, having that being prepared, having a backup plan, but also and also just educating yourself getting it, getting yourself involved in what’s going on in the social equity piece and understanding the culture and where cannabis came from. I always say that you have to understand where it came from, to know where it’s going, right.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah.
Melissa Jane Stapley: And for it to be successful. And so I think when people come in It’s, I get it all the time, like, oh, I want to work for you or I want to get in the weed business, it looks like you’re killing it. And I had one guy apply for a sales position and I was looking at adding some sales reps. And I was like, so why do you want to get an industry? Like I don’t know a lot of people are making money. It looks great. And I just started laughing. I didn’t mean to. That’s not how it is right now.
People, that look like they’re making money or people that already made money in other industries, for the most part, right? Or they are part of other industries. And they have that backing. And I mean, so don’t get me wrong, a lot of people have done really well and have acquired their business early on. And there are a lot of successful people but it’s just that that mindset people have coming in and it’s just they’re gonna make money right away.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah.
Melissa Jane Stapley: I would say like, if you want to start your own business, that’s great. You can start it but also maybe work, you know, work for someone in the industry and get that experience under your belt while you’re starting your business. But at the same time, too, when you’re starting something and that was what I did when I decided to start MJ Hybrid. Yeah, I was already working for a cannabis company, but I basically– I had a friend that owned a shop in La Mesa and San Diego, you know, it was the trap shop at the time before it went recreational just to see.
And he wanted her to come in, oh, I need to train my budtenders on CBD Can you come in and she’s like, Oh, actually, my friend is looking at starting this training business. So maybe we should have her do it. And so for me, it was great because I didn’t have everything written out yet. But I just jumped into it and went and just did in-person stuff with this group. It was literally meeting with them two times and just giving them advice on how to speak to customers. They literally saw like a 20 or 25% jump in their cells in like the first two weeks.
And so for me, it’s like when you’re trying to get in, you don’t have to have all your ducks in a row. You need to be prepared and know that it’s going to take time. But you also just have to see if it works and just start meeting people and reach out and look for those opportunities and testing it out to really make sure it’s going to work and so that’s for me, I was very fortunate that I got connected that way to be like that. So I was able to kind of move at a faster pace and putting them online, create the trainings online and then they referred me to someone that had a bunch of stores and that’s kind of how it started.
I was very fortunate because those early guys are the reason I’m probably still here. Because the first year I was kind of early with my business sales training, it’s you know it right now everyone’s so worried about regulations, compliance, and then once you establish your business, it’s like, okay, now we need to figure out how we can make our budtenders better our employees better. And so I have a very niched training. I’m not like, oh, I’m everyone. A lot of people think I do compliance. I don’t. I hate compliance, no fun.
But, so when you’re coming in with a business, just understand make sure there’s an– you have to make sure there’s a need for it, and just start reaching out and start putting it to use whether it’s prepared or not like you got to try it’s got your– if you look at my first videos, I laugh so hard, it’s just like, but that’s what you got to do. You got to just test it and come in. And if and I think too, if you are nervous about starting your own business and come in and start working for someone, the best knowledge you can get probably starting is budtender.
So if you’re able to, you know, depending on your lifestyle and come in and get a job making an hourly wage starting as a budtender, even for six months or a couple of months is going to give you some great knowledge and understanding of what people are looking
Sonia Gomez: Heck, yeah. And where the gaps are in the industry, you can learn so much in such a little amount of time was such a great piece of advice. I think that taking the time to get a job in the space to understand what is needed and where the gaps are before you start a business or bring your skill sets to another sector of the industry is so important because it’s the budtender that really gets to engage with the customer and the customer is the driving force behind most of the businesses created in this space right now.
I mean, everybody, even if you’re a B2B business, wants to help another business. As a business, you want to help another business, serve their clients better so that they can make more money and a bigger impact. So at the end of the day, it’s all about the customer. And that is what’s driving a business’s buying decision, whether you’re offering them a service or a product, it’s all based off of how their customer base is going to respond to it.
Melissa Jane Stapley: So that would be my biggest piece of advice to no matter what area of the industry, you’re getting into, focus on your client or customer focus on the people build the relationships, then the rest will come like especially if you’re a CBD brand and you’re trying to start a CBD brand.
Honey, the days of I have the best product and now know this, it’s this it’s different than that they’re gone. So it’s all about just knowing your consumer asking questions, finding out what they need, and then you can educate them based on their understanding and their need of what they’re looking for. And so focused on people More than your product you will be successful. might take a while, but you will be successful.
Sonia Gomez: Good one, I like it and Mike drop, I think that I would add to that is just reiterating what you said earlier. You know, success is not immediate, were very much at the very beginning of this thing. And so you actually do have time whether you have professional training, vocational training, no training whatsoever, there is a lot of education available for you to be able to check out what the opportunities are, what you’re interested in and develop the skill sets that you may not think you have right now to be relevant and valuable to this industry.
So my suggestion is to take your time if you don’t feel like you have skill sets that you can apply right away and by the way, smoking weed and loving it is not necessarily a big enough qualifier.
Melissa Jane Stapley: Well, it’s so funny because and I was just gonna say on the flip side to that As someone if you come into the industry as a new person when you go to these networks and you don’t and you don’t smoke, it’s fine. You don’t have to consume cannabis. But you don’t need to also look down on it. I’ve seen that a lot where it’s like, oh, no, I don’t smoke like and you know, I think it’s got a lot better but it’s like, still respect the plant.
So even if you don’t smoke kindly declined, but don’t come off as like, Yeah, no, I don’t use cannabis or come off as snooty or whatever. Like, you still have to respect the plant respect why people are using it and what it can do what it’s helping with. And so it’s like you said that yeah, it’s not a qualifier. And do you love weed? That’s definitely not the reason to get in the industry just for that reason. But on the flip side, too, if you come in and you don’t care about weed, you got to still learn how to respect that and understand and educate yourself.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Well, I’m so honored and grateful to have you on the show with me.
Melissa Jane Stapley: [unintelligible] thank you.
Sonia Gomez: You’re welcome. I’m so excited. Good to have you on. I think what you’re doing is amazing. I’m excited to talk more offline about some of the things that you have going on. I think there’s a lot of points of collaboration here. And this is one of the things I love most about my podcast is like, almost everybody that comes on here. I’m like, hey, you’re doing something so cool. Like, quite literally think that there’s a point of collaboration and then we go on to do something really great together.
So I’m just honored to be in contact with another boss babe in this industry, I really have an affinity towards the women in the space and wanting to make sure I can do whatever I can to support you guys being successful or support us being successful. And where can folks find you if they’re interested in finding out more about you or what you’re doing or want to try some of your training or whatever?
Melissa Jane Stapley: So my website’s MJ hybrid solutions COMM And my email is MJ@MJhybridsolutions.com, super simple. I’m LinkedIn You can find me by Melissa Stapley or MJ Stapley. Um, and yeah, and then Instagram the same thing, I’m doing hybrid solutions. So my social media handles
Sonia Gomez: Love it. For those of you guys who are tuning in, all of the social media handles and links for websites will be listed right here around this video. I invite you now to go and check them out along with the blog, transcription, and honorable mentions inside of this episode.
As you know, it is our mission to empower you with the truth about cannabis and hemp so that you can make educated decisions about how you want to take care of yourself, people that you love, conditions you may be suffering from. So I invite you to check us out at medicalsecrets.com for our favorite picks.
If you are someone that is looking for products that you can depend on to deliver the results that you’re looking for. And if you’re a budding entrepreneur or established business owner, I’d love to hear your story. firstname.lastname@example.org is where you can reach me and please like and share this content helped me to continue to change the way that we talk about and think about cannabis in our family and in our community. I’m your hostess with the mostess Sonia Gomez and this is The Hemp Revolution. We’ll see you on our next show, guys.
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