Cannabis Sales with Francesca Vavala

George Grombacher August 11, 2022

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Cannabis Sales with Francesca Vavala

LifeBlood: We talked about increasing cannabis sales for growers, the experience of being a conjoined twin, the current state of cannabis in America, and helping small growers develop systems and processes to thrive, with Francesca Vavala, CoFounder and President of the Sales Joint, a cannabis sales resource. Listen to learn why working with others will get you where you want to go a lot faster!

You can learn more about Francesca at, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Francesca Vavala

Episode Transcript

Unknown Speaker 0:00
Come on

Unknown Speaker 0:11
we’re left with this George G and the time is right welcome today’s guest strong and powerful Francesca avala. Francesca, you’re ready to do this. I am so ready. All right, let’s go. Francesca is the co founder and president of the sales joint their cannabis sales resource crafted for cultivators. Francesca, tell us a little bit personal lives more about your work and why you do what you do? Sure. So there’s a there’s a lot to unpack there. But I’ll try and keep it relatively simplified. On the personal life, I was actually born a conjoined twin is the way to not bury the lead. So my sister Emily and I were connected at our abdomens. And we shared a liver when we were younger. And so luckily, it’s a regenerating organ. And it was the only organ that we shared. So we were fortunate in that we could be separated and both live, we actually became the youngest conjoined twins ever to be successfully separated in the United States, because we were four days old. So yeah, I tried to get in the Guinness Book of World Records, but they were like, we really don’t want any records that are dangerous to try and beat. Like, I guess that applies is

Unknown Speaker 1:29
can’t look me up there. But Google Google confirm.

Unknown Speaker 1:33
That’s wisdom right there.

Unknown Speaker 1:36

Unknown Speaker 1:38
You know, they had to put that in there because they learned the hard way. And that’s that’s another story, I’m sure.

Unknown Speaker 1:44
But yeah, Emily, because they didn’t know that we were connected when we were didn’t know until we were being delivered. There were complications in the birth and Emily was born with a very severe form of cerebral palsy. So So cerebral palsy, if people aren’t familiar with it isn’t a degenerative disc disease or handicap, it doesn’t get worse, it doesn’t get better. It’s just what it is. And it can exist on a spectrum. So somebody can, you know, Blake, the the son in Breaking Bad, had cerebral palsy, but he could walk with some crutches, he could drive a car, Emily was way at the other end of the spectrum. She couldn’t walk, she couldn’t talk. She couldn’t feed herself. She couldn’t, you know, really do much of anything mobility wise, her mind was incredibly sharp. But just her handicap, Ernest showed mainly in physical and then some mental. And it was fine, because that’s all we knew. We had Fortunately, a very great family and very supportive parents. My mom’s a nurse, my dad is a teacher. So it was, it was a really healthy way to grow up.

Unknown Speaker 2:53
But when we were 31, it which was in 2013, she started to develop very severe forms of pneumonia, because she would aspirates live into her lungs, and she couldn’t control her swallowing. And it was in August of 2013, that she developed a superbug and she passed away from it. So it was a really hard time.

Unknown Speaker 3:20
When, when I started off in my adult life, I thought for sure I knew what I was going to be I was going to be a high school English teacher, like my dad. And that’s what I wanted. When I realized life wasn’t like Dead Poets Society.

Unknown Speaker 3:35
Things kind of changed. And I knew I needed to leave teaching. So I actually jumped into real estate knowing nothing about it. But I was fortunate there to actually work with my uncle and his business partner, they own their own brokerage together. And they were really integral in helping me with learning about sales from probably the best philosophy, I think that was out there with very buyer centric focus, and really employing My educational background into sales. But when Emily died, I felt very at sea with what I was doing, you know, real estate is a lot of self motivation, you have to go out and hustle and find work and, and really always be on, I couldn’t bring myself to care about anything. So I realized I needed more structure. And I was like, let me just take some sort of part time job to kind of get my body back into the rhythm of work and my mind into caring about things that are you know, here and now rather than locked in and grief state. So I actually ended up going to work for my now business partner Mike and he owned a different business at the time and I started out as a part time content writer. I loved it so much. I loved working for him and so

Unknown Speaker 5:00
Oh, I grew in the business, I decided to leave real estate, a big grew into a marketing director position. And it was in that position that he approached me and said, I think it was 2015. It was 2014 2015. And he said, Listen, I’ve been looking into this cannabis world. And it seems like what we do for manufacturers, which is manufacturers and engineers are good at making things. They’re not great at selling things. So we would sell the things for them in a highly regulated industry, who’s like, I think cannabis is going to have the same problem. He was like, it’s going to be farmers who are great at growing, they’re not going to be, you know, experienced or care about selling, I think we could do that for them. And he said, I want you to do this with me, I think you’d be good for it. And so I said, Well, let me look into it. Because I really didn’t know anything about cannabis. I mean, it smoked once or twice, but it wasn’t a thing for me. And that was when I learned about cannabis. And I found out I remember finding out that there were antispasmodic properties in the cannabinoids. And I thought about Emily. And I was like, if we had known then what we now know and had access to this plant, we could have limited the amount of medication she was on, she could have improved her quality of life, maybe improved the length of it, and I got mad. And then I used that to really drive myself to take this position and run with it and say, I don’t want anybody to have the restricted access to quality met medicine from this plant that Emily and my family had. So that’s really how we got started. And we built we built the sales business. A lot of the clients we got in the beginning were CBD manufacturers because the 2018 farm bill came around and everybody was in CBD. And so we started sort of a side another business that was just to handle the CBD that was terrapins select. And we stayed with the THC with our existing business. And so it’s been a long journey of figuring out where we fit how to work with everybody in a state by state market in with constant change. But it’s been fun, challenging and the entire time it’s been more fit. So that’s that’s the synopsis really of it all the life story and I don’t know, 10 minutes or less. There it is. Thank you so much for sharing what a lot of story. So

Unknown Speaker 7:32
there’s several podcasts, there’s just just just right there.

Unknown Speaker 7:38
So the the your business partners name is what? Mike Patterson Okay, so Mike, Mike was was Was he saw around the corner there because that makes all the sense of the world, you’ve got a growing industry and people making and growing literally a growing industry of growing, that’s pretty wide open. But recognizing that that actually sell selling this stuff is is going to be a challenge as it has been for other industries.

Unknown Speaker 8:07
What’s What’s the hardest thing? I mean, the regulation and dealing with all that must be a mess. It is it’s challenging.

Unknown Speaker 8:19
It’s hard to say what the hardest thing is, because that keeps changing.

Unknown Speaker 8:24
It’s the hardest thing today. Yeah. But I can say consistently across the board, one of the hardest things is really getting in touch with with the cultivators that will benefit the most from what we offer. And then those are the small medium farmers, not necessarily the corporate giants who have their systems and their sales and their marketing processes figured out. We don’t need to help those guys. We’re here to help the craft cultivators. And honestly, they have so many hats they have to wear that even getting them on the phone or getting them to trust enough to make a decision to hand over some business and the sales side of the business or to believe that somebody is actually here to help them grow their business. It’s hard for them to let go because they’ve invested everything into what they’re doing. That’s a lot to risk. And we respect that and honor that. But even getting them in at the fields, getting them on the phone, getting them to make decisions in a timely manner or, you know, to understand what the best decision is for them to to get the business conversations going. When the whole reason we’re doing that is maybe that’s not their forte or not what they have time for. I would say that’s probably the most consistent challenge that we face. That’s fascinating. I

Unknown Speaker 9:48
my brain likes to connect things or try to connect things and if I were it seems like an industry that is it’s got so much enthusiasm and excitement around it not

Unknown Speaker 10:00
Unlike cryptocurrency, where that’s that’s great. But then there’s a lot of bad actors and a lot of BS, and so it makes sense that a small cultivator would be probably pretty fed up and sick of dealing with all that sort of noise and nonsense.

Unknown Speaker 10:16
That makes sense. Do you have a sense of how many folks like that are out there

Unknown Speaker 10:21
1000s. Even in, just take the Oklahoma market, for example, or even New Mexico as it comes into play. There’s hundreds or even I think over Well, Oklahoma’s trimming it down now as they crack down on illegal grows and metric takes place and takes hold. But there are hundreds and hundreds of people that are just entrepreneurial spirit, I’ve been farming my whole life, this seems like a great way to make money. And it’s easy to get it’s, quote unquote, easy to get started with a cheap licensing fee. So let’s go. And it’s really been hard to figure out when we’ve got it down now. But it took a while to figure out what is it that we have to have clients have in place already formed to make sure that they’re successful. And now that we have that it’s it’s trimmed down the I think the pool the prospect pool significantly, because they have to have consistent weight every month, they have to have transportation to get that’s reliable. So to get samples out, they have to be able to do samples and not be so cash strapped that that’s going to be the thing that puts them, you know, kind of in the negative. So with that, with those parameters in place, I would say it’s probably a couple 100 is state and even then it’s amount. It’s the it’s a matter of who can who can trust us Who can believe in us and who’s growing quality product, because we can we believe sales should be your second priority. product quality is your first assuming compliance is not an issue. Yeah, that makes sense. Now, I’m, I know a little bit about about cannabis in Arizona, and there’s a certain number of licenses this that the other thing

Unknown Speaker 12:17
that’s probably just for dispensaries. So is there an unlimited number of licenses per state? Does it vary from state to state, it varies state to state. So there’s, there’s open licensing in a state like Oklahoma, New Mexico, where they just say we’re not capping the number of licenses, and it is a free market on steroids. So that’s, that’s a crazy amount of opportunity, crazy amount of competition, market saturation, all of the, you know, supply and demand things that come with that. And then there are states like on the East Coast, a lot of states are what we call vertically integrated, which means that licensing comes at a much higher premium. And that license means you can grow, you can own a dispensary, you can maybe extract, you can do everything. So you’re kind of growing your own product and selling most of that in your own store and only selling a certain amount of that to other dispensaries. So states that have vertical licensing, or limited number of dispensaries and growers enough, like small enough that they can all talk to each other with no problem. Those aren’t the best fit for us because we need a little bit of chaos in order for us to have value. You know? Otherwise, it’s you guys can probably take care of it yourselves. Maybe you hire us for some consulting to help get that business sense going. But or you know, just learn from the things that we’ve learned from but to actually operate their sales system, it would have to be a little chaotic for us to have some meaning and value there. Yeah, got it. So just walk me through the experience. So let’s assume that I am a small grower and I am living in a little bit of chaos. I’m just trying to make a great product. But I really have no idea how to effectively distribute. I come to you. Yes. Well, welcome.

Unknown Speaker 14:16
So excited. No, what we what we would do first is we usually do about a 30 minute discovery call that’s just say let’s let’s get an understanding of what you do have, you know, where are you right now? And where do you see yourself going? And then a quick kind of overlook of the infrastructure that exists and kind of poking around to see what some of those weaknesses are. Are you in a point where you’ve got a logo and you’re mistaking that for having a brand? Or do you have a product that’s ready to go or are you going to have to harvest in a few months how much weight are you producing now is indoors and outdoor everything that we need to know really to understand what gaps are there that we can fill? So once we do with 13

Unknown Speaker 15:00
In a discovery call, then Mike and I confer with our team, we look at the notes and we say, okay, let’s, if this was our business, this was our grow, and we wanted to go where they’re going or want to go, what would we have to do to get there. And then we come up with a very simple kind of design plan. Usually, it’s a go to market or launch plan. And we say, here are the categories of things you need, whether that’s branding, you know, website, sales, education, collateral events, all kinds of things. And then we say, here are the pieces that we think we could help with. And roughly a range of hours that, you know, we think it would take, we present that to our prospect. And we say, you know, here’s what we think we can do for you. But this is only on a 30 minute discovery call. So we could be off on some of these things. This is a kind of living document, we need your input here, because you could spit say, Oh, I see why you thought that. But actually, we don’t need that, or, Oh, I’ve got a guy, he’s going to take care of this. But what I actually need is that, and we say, okay, great, we tweak it, we figure out where exactly, you need us for help. And then you buy a bank of hours, essentially. So starting at 10 hours, 2550 100. And then those hours go to whatever it is, is the top priority, whatever it is, that makes sense that needs to be built first, because so many people want to jump right into sales. But there’s a whole sales infrastructure because you can have killer sales. But if you can’t deliver, if your operations are bad, if you’re not even tagging your things, right, if your inventory is off, it’s all going to go to hell. So those sales are really going to work against you and do more damage to your brand than good. So we want to make sure that you’re set up for success once that sales switch is flipped. And then if you want to continue to work with us on the sales side of things, once everything is built, then it’s a matter of we know you are good client, because we worked with you, we set you up for success. And now we can say all right, let’s be your outside sales team. Essentially, we are going to call all the dispensaries that are in your market, we’re going to develop the relationships with the purchasing managers, the owners, whoever the decision makers are, teach them about your product, we’re calling as your farm, we’re, you know, we’re at George farms, you know, and we have the best stuff. And you know, here it is. And in that’s that’s what I’m doing as your sales agent for that farm. Once we get the yes for a sample or a purchase, you we need your feet on the street to deliver. And then we continue to nurture that relationship, we keep track of all of our notes in a CRM, you have access to all of our activity, we operate with 100% transparency, but you have a sales team that is so practiced in that sales, I guess was like expertise. And we’re used to this, this is what we do all day, every day, you know that you’re going to get this reliable production from our team. And then we operate on a on a commission basis, because frankly, it’s really hard to do a retainer basis with with farms and with cannabis. You know, markets fluctuate, prices go up and down dramatically, people have no need for a month. And we certainly know how much it costs to run a farm to some extent, and we don’t want to be a burden. We want to be an asset. So we can we trust that we can do our work. If you’re set up for success, we can make you successful. So that’s why we operate on that commission basis. And those those are our farm clients. We also have you know, people that just use this on the consulting side for you know, a delivery business, incoming calls for bulk sales, dispensary services, things like that, where they’re like I have a sales team. I don’t think it’s going very well. And I don’t know why I need some outside help from that. Great. Let’s let’s talk build a design by a bank of ours and do the work. Love it.

Unknown Speaker 19:00
Again, I’m sure it depends, but can I sell my product to other states? Can I move it across state lines? Not yet. That’s what we need for federal legalization for or deregulation completely. So every state is its own market. And then within those states, certain counties, municipalities, townships can opt out. So in California and New Jersey, for example, there are certain townships that say you know what, I don’t want a dispensary in this township. And they’re not allowed. It can create depending on how the laws are written some issues for transporters because if they’re legally moving something from one point to another, but going through a township that is saying it’s illegal I’m there don’t signal with their blinker and get pulled over with a truck full of weed. They could be in some trouble. So prison for you. Yeah, yeah. It’s like trucks of money and weed or going around

Unknown Speaker 20:00
Then that’s always going to be risky, whether that’s legally or illegally, but that’s all within the state. Yeah, each state is its own market.

Unknown Speaker 20:11
It’s like a

Unknown Speaker 20:12
trucks of money and wheat are going around. That’s going to be risky. That might be the name of the podcast today.

Unknown Speaker 20:19
Sir, certainly the name of the game trucks of money and drugs.

Unknown Speaker 20:24
We’d, yes, anyway, anyway, awesome. Well, Francesca, you’ve given us a lot, but the people are ready for that difference making tip? What do you have for them?

Unknown Speaker 20:34
My difference making tip for everybody and I think this is true if you’re in cannabis, or if you’re not, is that sales operations really don’t change business to business. It is really about the sales mindset that makes you successful. And so we operate with a no one grows alone mindset. If we start that with a foundation, then we can say we can apply internally and externally and say, you know, if I can help my growers, they get to sell to dispensaries. dispensaries get to help patients, patients get to heal. And within a business, if I can help my employees be successful and achieve their dreams, they’re going to invest that energy back into the company and it’s just this beautiful cyclical kind of growth. So it’s really about focusing with a no one grows alone mindset to experience the kind of enormous success that I think those people that have that deserve. Well, I think that is great stuff that definitely gets come up.

Unknown Speaker 21:34
No one grows alone. That is that is awesome, right? Yes. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 21:41
I should know I didn’t grow alone eaters.

Unknown Speaker 21:45

Unknown Speaker 21:47

Unknown Speaker 21:49
keeps getting better. Lots of layers for that one. Nice. All right. Beautiful. Well, Francesca, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage with you and the sales join? You can follow us on Instagram at the sales joint. And you can also check out our website the sales If you want some more information about our services, we also actually have a talk show The infused show a cannabis talk show on YouTube love for people to just to subscribe and you can check it out wherever you hear this podcast or your other favorite podcasts. And I’d love if you have an opportunity than need somebody to come and speak about sales. You can check out my speaker website at Francesca

Unknown Speaker 22:33
perfect if you enjoyed as much as I did show Francesca your appreciation and share today show the friend who also appreciates good ideas, fun sales, join on Instagram, find the infused show on YouTube, go to the sales And check out more about Francesca and having her come and speak at Francesca It’s fra NCS ca Thanks good. Francesca. Thank you so much, George. This was great. And until next time, keep fighting the good fight as we’re all in this together.

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