Selling CBD in the Pharmacy

Drug Topics Journal, Drug Topics September 2021, Volume 165, Issue 9

Pharmacists interested in driving profit through CBD can start by changing their mindset.

Cannabidiol (CBD) sales are driving profits for many pharmacies, whereas others seem to be watching from the sidelines. Here are some tips to help increase your pharmacy’s CBD sales.

Many pharmacy owners treat CBD like the field of dreams: If they carry it, sales will come. You may get lucky with a few of these sales, but to create a profitable cash niche with CBD you need to focus on nurturing it. I speak every week with pharmacy owners who do not carry CBD because they lack confidence or simply have not seen sales. I have been able to help many pharmacies turn around their CBD sales with simple tips pharmacists can easily implement.

Changing Your Mindset

A limiting mindset shows up in several ways when I speak with pharmacy owners, including the following:
• I am not a CBD expert.
• Other pharmacies are already selling CBD.
• My community does not want CBD.
• I do not know which brand(s) to carry.

Let us take these one at a time.

I Am Not an Expert

Yes, I think we can all agree you are not Dr Alex Capano, America’s first doctoral degree recipient in CBD studies and a leading industry researcher. However, you do not have to be Dr Capano to help your patients. Individuals get caught up on the word “expert.” Either everyone claims to be experts when they clearly are not, or even highly educated individuals are wary of the word for fear of being called imposters. Here is my definition: If you know more about a topic than the individual to whom you are speaking, you are the expert in that conversation.

You do not have to be an industry expert to sell CBD, but you should be educated. Many CBD companies offer education as part of their service. If you are interested in carrying CBD, I would recommend using a company with a robust educational platform to help you get started. You need to understand CBD as a clinician. Going through a course or continuing education of your choice will bolster your knowledge and confidence. Do not forget about your employees. They also should receive an education in CBD.

Other Pharmacies Are Already Selling CBD

This phrase has now become the most common excuse I hear. Pharmacy owners will say, “I don’t carry X brand because the pharmacy down the street carries it already.” Or “I don’t carry CBD because another business next to me carries it.” In summary, many feel they missed out on the CBD opportunity because they are late to the game.

My response is, “Are you trying to sell CBD to the entire community or to your patients?” Far too many pharmacy owners worry about what other pharmacies are doing instead of focusing on how to serve their patients best. My advice is to pick the brands and products that you think are best, provide stellar outcomes, and sell them to your patients. Most pharmacies are sitting on about $100,000 a year in profit with only their patients as CBD customers. Your patients trust you. Your opinion and action in helping them choose a good product could be the nudge they need.

My Community Does Not Want CBD

Much of the stigma around CBD has been dispelled. If you find that your community still believes CBD is the same as marijuana, that is an excellent opportunity for your pharmacy. You can rise to the occasion and be the leader in teaching the truth about CBD. Become the local expert by explaining the differences and how quality CBD products will protect the community.

The negative impact of opioids has finally gone mainstream. Medical professionals and patients are looking for alternatives to opioids, controlled drugs, sleep medication, and the chronic use of anxiety medications. Because CBD marketing has become popular, many individuals already associate CBD with helping these types of conditions. Every community, no matter how conservative, is ripe for CBD sales.

I Do Not Know Which Brands to Carry

I typically recommend that each pharmacy carry 3 to 4 brands of CBD. Many CBD companies have a specialty or a niche product that is special to them. Another strategy is to stock products at different price points. Here is my short list of requirements for choosing a brand to carry in your pharmacy:
• The company offers education.
• It accepts returns of unsold products.
• There is a uniqueness to the products, such as price, combination dosage form, or selling model.
• It provides stock marketing materials.
Once you pick a few companies that meet your criteria, have your employees receive education and practice discussing the companies and products. Then it is time to let your patients know and start selling to them.

Marketing CBD Inside Your 4 Walls

Leverage Your Dispensing Records

Your patients trust you. They will listen to your recommendations. When you can use their prescription history to make a specific recommendation for a CBD product, the rate of conversion and getting the sale skyrockets. Here are 2 examples involving my 2 favorite products.

Combination of CBD and Melatonin
• Run a pharmacy management software report for all sleep prescriptions.
• Call the patients and ask whether they are 100% satisfied with their prescription.
• Alternatively, you can consult in the pharmacy.
• Create a bag stuffer for the product and attach it to every bag.
• Work with your staff to create a comfortable talk track.
• This product may be particularly good for patients on Medicare, where most sleep medications are not covered or are considered high risk.

Vaginal CBD to Help With Chronic Pain or Infections
• Run a pharmacy management software report for recent yeast infection or antibiotic scripts.
• Call the patients and ask whether their treatment was successful and whether they are interested in any prevention products.
• Alternatively, you can consult in the pharmacy.
• Create a bag stuffer or flyer and hand it out to every patient to create awareness.
• Work with your staff to create leading questions to direct patients to talk with the pharmacist (because this can be a sensitive topic).

You can take these steps for patients with pain, anxiety, or any other therapeutic indication. For example, many CBD companies have incredible topical pain formulations. You could target patients taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or opioids. Having a system for identifying patients and then having a conversation will lead you to success.

Bag Stuffers

There is no better awareness method than having a catchy bag stuffer on every prescription bag that leaves your store. Programs like Canva can easily create bag stuffers. You can print them in-house as a low-cost, effective marketing tool. Here is a quick checklist for bag stuffers.
• Print on bright, neon-colored paper using black ink.
• Every patient at every visit gets a bag stuffer (do not prescreen).
• Use the same bag stuffer for an entire month.
• Employees must also talk about it, not just secretly slide it in the bag.

These are my favorite inside the 4-walls marketing tactics. Cheap and effective—what more could you ask for?

Educating Your Community

If you want to foster a strong CBD niche, eventually you will have to go outside your current patient database. To increase your reach, it is important to use different tactics.

Social Media

Marketing CBD on social media quickly became a no-go after Facebook shut off advertising accounts. However, time has passed and much more is known about what you can and cannot do. I am no longer concerned about posting about CBD on social channels if some simple rules are followed.
• You have no paid ads for CBD, no boosting for CBD or where CBD is mentioned or goes to a page where CBD is mentioned.
• Be creative. You can discuss the ailments and how your pharmacy has a solution without mentioning CBD. You can also use creative graphics that imply CBD.
• Live videos are perfect for talking about CBD.

Traditional Media

Your local news station, radio, or newspaper often can be great sources to help educate your community and position yourself as the local expert. Start contacting them and ask whether they would be interested in running educational CBD information for their followers. You could include a sample of what you have written or a link to a post you have done. Emphasize educational material, not selling products.

CBD can be a great product that helps your patients and boosts your profits. It is a win-win situation. If you have questions or want some additional support in getting started or in growing your CBD sales in your pharmacy, I am happy to help. You can contact me at info@diversifyrx.com.