A trade show is an excellent way to get your company in front of new clients, develop sales leads, and even sell products in some cases. Even when you choose the perfect trade show and have a flawless booth display, the key to a successful event often lies with your staff.
Some larger companies may have a dedicated team of trade show attendees, but if you’re a small company without that team, it’s important to provide the right training to your staff to ensure they can put on a great show. Here are five things to train your booth staff on before the event.
At an average trade show, you may have 10,000 or more attendees that pass by your booth. While not every attendee will be a prospective client, it is important for show staff to understand how to engage people as they walk past the booth.
Generally a booth with employees sitting behind a table has very few people who actually stop and talk to the staff, and even fewer who get useful information about the company. If you are going to spend the money to do a show, it’s important to reach out to enough people to make the cost worthwhile.
Asking questions is a very effective engagement method, as long as the person cannot give a one-word answer (“yes” or “no”) and continue walking. Ask questions that require them to stop and start a discussion, such as what products they are seeking, and try to be creative.
2) Qualifying Leads
Getting a lot of traffic through your booth and getting a lot of qualified traffic through your booth are two entirely different things. The goal of your booth is to drive business, so your staff should be trained to identify people who could become potential clients, and not spend excessive amounts of time with someone who will never buy your product or work with your company.
While you want to train your staff to be polite, you also want them to be able to ask specific questions that will quickly help them identify qualified individuals. Discussions about what they are looking for, how their company solves a specific problem, etc. can be very useful. If they are not qualified, train your staff to politely end the conversation so they can spend more time with good leads.
3) Putting on a Good Presentation
Whether you are doing a demo of your product, or simply describing your service to show attendees, it’s all in the presentation. If your booth staff is spending 30 minutes on a presentation that should be done in 5 minutes, prospective clients will get bored and leave, and you will lose out on the opportunity to talk to as many people as possible. Train your staff and practice the presentations so they can convey all the benefits of your product or service quickly, but in a memorable and impactful way.
4) Closing the Sale
If you are selling a product, the close is when you need to get a customer past the exploration phase to the purchase. If you’re just providing information about your company, products, or services, the close is the part where you get good information to follow up with leads after the show. Train your staff on how to reach an agreement with prospective clients on the next step (for example, “How would you like me to follow up with you next week?”). Staff should be as specific as possible about the follow-up schedule, and then be sure that information is clear so they or someone else can follow through.
5) Miscellaneous Tips
Here are a few more do’s and don’ts for booth staff so they are always displaying professional behavior and making a good impression.
- Avoid eating while in the booth. Try to staff enough people, especially during meal times, so that people can leave and eat their meals.
- Avoid talking on the phone, texting, or surfing the internet. This can be difficult if the show is slow, but it’s important to remain professional and engaged during show hours.
- Pay attention to body language. Avoid having your arms crossed or sending other unintending messages, and always, always have a smile on your face.
- Keep breath fresh Talking for hours can make your mouth dry, and your breath smell bad. Be sure to keep a stock of water and breath mints on hand. Avoid chewing gum.
- Wear appropriate attire. This includes comfortable shoes and clothing that fits with your industry. If you’re at a banking convention, jeans and a sweatshirt are probably inappropriate. In addition, wear layers in case it is cold or hot inside the convention hall.
- Don’t talk to other booth staff or sit down while prospects walk by. Engagement is key, so have your full attention directed at show attendees and be inviting.
Properly trained booth staff can make a show worth the time and money that you put into it, so it’s important to prepare them in advance for success.
Article by Mark Saghy, a marketing associate for Exhibit Deal, a wholesale trade show display company offering digital signage, pop-up displays, outdoor displays and accessories.