In many industries, it goes without saying that trade shows are a huge deal. Companies spend months preparing their exhibit marketing – and with good reason! Referrals and word of mouth are important sources of B2B sales, and with so many industry professionals rubbing elbows at trade shows, they’re a great place for companies to reach a large buying audience both quickly and efficiently.
Of course, with so many companies offering similar products or services at industry events, competition can be fierce. Custom trade show booth design is one way for companies to stand out in an attempt to generate leads, but fancy gimmicks are just one part of the picture. While the booth itself should be used to draw the crowds, your booth staff are the ones who need to have the knowledge and the charisma to close a deal.
It may seem obvious to some that your booth staff should be knowledgeable about your product or service, but a common rookie mistake is to send out junior staff to hold down the fort at a trade show. Unfortunately, a fancy display does not speak for itself. Junior employees are the last people who should be sent out to represent your company at the largest industry events of the year.
If you’re looking to generate leads and to close some deals, you need to select your booth staff with care. They need to know your product or service like the back of their hand, and they simply need the to hit it off with your audience. Junior employees who are new to a company will simply not have the product/service knowledge of a senior staff member. Furthermore, they might be overwhelmed with having to remember information and simultaneously put on a show… and trade shows are truly just as the name indicates – a show.
Senior staff with trade show experience will know the ins and outs of the game. Of course, if you need a refresher or if you have no choice but to send out less experienced staff members, some important things to know are:
First impressions are everything.
You’ve probably put an enormous amount of thought, time and money into your exhibit marketing, haven’t you? From sending out pre-show marketing emails to actually designing the booth, you’ve undoubtedly worked hard to create a good impression with potential leads or existing customers. Well why stop right there? Your staff are your company’s only official representatives at a trade show event, and they must absolutely be as presentable as your fancy interactive custom booth design.
Instruct your staff on how to dress for the event, and to place their badges (if they have any) on the right. Basic manners include not chewing gum; eating at the booth; showing up late or in disarray, or being overly intoxicated at social mixers.
Also ensure that your staff know to stand straight (no sitting) in an accessible area where they can easily communicate with anybody who approaches your booth. It’s a good idea to set any tables you may have at an angle, or off to the side. That way, your staff are not literally separated from your potential customers.
Don’t forget to tell them to focus on the customers! Distracted employees who are too busy chatting to one another can alienate show attendees, who may skip your booth over if they are not given immediate attention. Booth attendants’ eyes and ears should be focused on potential leads at all times. While these things may seem obvious, you might be surprised how many of these basic considerations are sometimes ignored!
Keep your booth clean.
Employees who have done the trade show circuit before know just how messy a booth can get at the end of the day. From pen caps to sticky notes, candy wrappers to brochures, the floor around any booth can get pretty messy. They also need to ensure that things aren’t coming apart as they are wont to do when hundreds of people poke and prod at everything from touch screens to stacks of business cards.
Know the competition… and partner up.
It’s important for your booth staff to not only be knowledgeable about your company’s products and services, but to also get to know the lay of the land. They should know who the other companies at the trade show are and have an idea of what they offer and sell, especially if you are competing directly for the same leads. Customers will certainly be shopping around, and your staff should be able to answer any questions thrown their way regarding your company’s competitive edge.
On the other hand, it might be a good idea to partner up with other companies that offer slightly different products or services, but to the same audience. By trading contact information, your staff can pick up new leads without entering into competition with partners. It’s a win-win for everybody!
Multi-tasking, tech-savvy masters
Trade shows can get really crazy, really quickly. Your booth attendants need to be able to deal with high volumes of questions and comments in a short period of time, in addition to handling potential technical problems that may pop up unexpectedly. In many cases, they also need to simultaneously make updates to any social media platforms you may have. As such, it is your responsibility to choose booth staff who already exhibit multi-tasking skills at work. Ideally, they should also be comfortable with technology, and familiar with all your social media accounts. The last thing you want to do is assign a nervous staffer who fumbles with a tablet to a trade show, no matter how knowledgeable they may be in the office.
Seasoned trade show staffers should be more than familiar with the above tips and tricks. By choosing enthusiastic, knowledgeable and charismatic booth attendants, you should be more than able to generate a good number of leads from any trade show. Representing a company at a trade show is a privilege, not a burden, so make sure to put as much effort into selecting the right employees as you did into the actual design of the booth itself!