The Evolution of Virtual Budtender Classes
Every cannabis brand loves spending in-person time with retailers. It’s oftentimes the easiest way to develop meaningful relationships that lead to sales and product placement.
However, since the beginning of the pandemic, those opportunities have been few and far between. Cannabis training has shifted from in-person only to virtual budtender classes to on-demand training, and with dispensaries continuing to limit in-person opportunities, it’s time for cannabis brands to supplement their methods.
The future of virtual budtender training is budding and bright, as it’s proven to be an effective leave-behind method of cannabis training for brands that are no longer able to complete in-person training. This means you can take advantage of all the available benefits of online and mobile training while preparing your businesses for what is still yet to come.
Because there can be a disconnect between retailers and brands, virtual budtender classes allow more flexibility and access to product information budtenders need to do their job to the best of their ability — benefiting both your sales and their professionalism in the field.
Here's everything you need to know about the past, present, and future state of budtender classes and training.
Budtender Classes Have Evolved
In the early years of cannabis legalization, there weren't any standard forms of schooling or training available to budtenders. This made it challenging for both the brands that were committed to getting their products to the right consumers and the budtenders invested in helping their customers find the right product.
As with any up-and-coming industry, this didn't last long as brands saw the importance of educating budtenders about their product so that they could better inform and promote their products to consumers. Ultimately, this resulted in the evolution of budtender training:
Pre-pandemic, brands visited retailers in person and hosted personal training sessions. This consisted of a brand representative visiting various dispensaries and training all the present budtenders, either during their lunch breaks or after a shift. These in-person interactions make it easier for budtenders and brands to engage with the product, learn its differentiators, and prepare to sell it.
Virtual Budtender Training
As is the case with every industry, the pandemic forced the cannabis industry into the virtual world. In-store visits were halted as cannabis brands turned to Zoom and other video-sharing platforms to host virtual budtender classes. Rather than visiting physical locations and dropping off collateral, brands began hosting lunch-and-learns and sending collateral electronically to train budtenders.
All of that leads us to the current landscape of budtender training. Some states have loosened restrictions while many retailers still prefer contactless training, so what’s the solution?
On-demand training is the bridge between the two formats above. While you might be able to host an in-person training session every now and then, you won’t be able to train the budtenders that are either not working that day or actively serving customers in the store. Likewise, while you can host a virtual class, not every budtender is guaranteed to attend.
Mobile, on-demand training allows you to augment those efforts with leave-behind training pieces that every budtender can access at their convenience. If someone was helping a customer during your in-person session, they now have all the product-specific information they need to sell your product. The same goes for those unable to attend the virtual session.
The truth is that modern-day budtender training has since evolved into the digital world. In fact, this is the case for more than 85% of learning and development training. For budtender training specifically, there are at least five reasons you need to move your training online:
- Reach retail staff you can’t engage with in person
- Your product information is more accessible and up to date
- Dissemination of information is more unified and consistent
- Digital training is more engaging
- Receive instant feedback and reviews
For ZolTrain clients, this currently includes the creation of an 'Instagram-style' cell phone-based training course, an incentivized training campaign (i.e., automatically deliver gift cards, swag, and product sample requests), a budtender feedback survey, and more.
However, the future of budtender training is sure to introduce even more virtual aspects.
What does the future hold?
Simply put, the future is looking bright for budtender classes. With the help of the latest technological advancements and more focus on what resonates with budtenders, training has never been more beneficial and appealing than what is yet to come.
After all, the best way to educate anyone about your product is by using techniques they're not only familiar with, but that they actually enjoy.
Social-Media Like Product Training
Modern budtender training includes Instagram-like, scrollable product cards that make budtender training easy, accessible, and engaging for budtenders. This is because social media, like product training, appeals to a person's interests, making it easier to engage with and retain the information they're learning.
In fact, the average internet user dedicates as much as 2 hours and 24 minutes daily, to social media scrolling. If even a fraction of that time is dedicated to your scrollable budtender training on a daily basis, you can rest assured budtenders are well-informed on your product.
Much like how Instagram-like scrolling appeals to the average internet user's interests, so does gamification. In efforts to increase budtender engagement, brands will begin including virtual gamification within their training — this will incentivize sales, repeat customers, and other goals that make budtenders, and thus your brand, more successful.
A study done by Finances Online found that 85% of employees say that they enjoy gamification software solutions at work. What’s more, companies saw a 60% increase in employee engagement as a result of gamification training features.
The future of budtender training will also allow budtenders themselves to contribute to the product benefits and differentiators through feedback and content sharing. This is very important because budtenders know first-hand how you can improve their experience with your training and how you can improve your product for the right consumers.
One form of content sharing that will become popular in the future of budtender training is tap-to-share. If a budtender is using your training collateral to educate a consumer and they want to give the consumer more information, they can easily share a consumer-specific version of the product information.
Since research shows that nearly 71% of consumers desire a consistent experience across all brand channels in-store and online (and only 29% say that they receive it), integrations will go a long way in making that goal more achievable in the future. In addition to the aforementioned content sharing, other integrations include online menus and sales order follow-ups.
Get Ahead of the Future
Budtender classes have always been an essential component for bringing brands and budtenders together to inform and educate on products. As time goes on, however, advancements make communication and training much more efficient.
Today, it’s more important than ever to supplement your in-person training with on-demand training that gives budtenders multiple avenues to learn about your product. Contact our team at ZolTrain for a deeper dive into how we can expand your brand's capabilities with virtual budtender classes.