You’ve prepped and planned and are ready to take your trade show booth experience on the road. But wait, how does your team look? Ultimately, how you staff and train can make or break the show experience you want attendees to remember.
Let’s run through a few steps to ensure your booth team is prepared, equipped and setting the stage for success:
Recruit your strongest players
Be strategic when thinking about how to staff your trade show booth. While you need the power of an “always closing” attitude from your sales team, they must realize that selling on the show floor is very different from the interactions found in a typical sales call made at a prospect’s office or over dinner. You’ll only have 3-5 minutes on average with a booth show attendee so you’ll need to be sure you have your most engaging and polished people staffing your exhibit. Let them know that you are making a big investment to have a presence at the show and that they have been carefully selected based on their superb skill set to ensure that your organization gets a return on this investment. Set the stage so that you have the right mix of personality types, not to mention a few socially savvy folks that will amplify your presence.
Prepare your team, mentally and physically
Start your exhibit staff training early and repeat often. Mentally, your booth staff needs to be well-trained on best practices in face-to-face selling techniques in order to win over your audience. You also need to ensure that they all understand the key messages you need to be conveyed to booth visitors, and how the exhibit experience and in-booth technology has been designed to help them convey these messages. It’s also important that your staff practice and role play their interactions with a booth attendee so they can all deliver your messages confidently, accurately, consistently and concisely.
Prospect qualification is key. Can your team identify your targeted prospects and quickly qualify them using the “BANT” methodology - budget, authority, need and timing? These are all essential qualifiers used to guide the conversation with visitors to pinpoint their needs and explain how your company is best positioned to satisfy those needs.
Physically, your team should carry themselves well, from grooming to body language to booth attire. You don’t want someone’s unpolished physical appearance to diminish the beauty of your booth structure or impact the experience. And for pete’s sake, reiterate to the team: no nail biting, gum chewing, eating or congregating allowed.
Equip: pre, during and post show
“Over-communication is too much information,” said no booth staff ever. Communication is key to keeping your staff engaged and on schedule. In between client meetings and sales calls, they will appreciate a well-communicated action plan encompassing preshow, during and post-show. Start with a pre-show meeting to introduce the booth experience, familiarize them with the booth layout and flow, and clarify roles and responsibilities. You’ll want to share future onsite training dates, travel arrangements, staffing schedules, as well as show hours and any key action items. Post-show, be sure your team knows how the leads they collect will be distributed and worked. You don’t want your sales team doing post-show follow-up without thoroughly vetting your leads.
Position for success
Identify and play up to your chosen team’s strengths but do give yourself the ability to change up the team during the show if you feel your staffing arrangements are not quite right.
Here are 3 suggestions on how to tap into the strengths of your sales team:
- Greeters: They say first impressions are everything. So, put your friendliest and most effective greeters at the forefront of your exhibit environment. Equip them with key communication points aligned with your exhibit experience that entice attendees to come in and visit.
- Transition Team: Allow your greeter to transition the attendee to this area as they step into your environment. Your transition team should be able to thoughtfully welcome, scan attendee badges, and communicate the needs of the attendee during the final hand-off. While the greeters can also play this role, you want to be sure the entry points of your booth are consistently staffed.
- Experts: The expert takes the qualifying information the transition/greeter team provides and creates targeted dialogue with the attendee. Your experts should be fully absorbed with any digital content created to convey your message or client case studies that will resonate. They must also be ready to disengage the attendee with a closing suited to the conversation; are they qualified warranting a premium giveaway tied to the experience and further follow-up? Or are they a “handshake and thank-you-for-stopping-by” send off?
Once the show is over for the day, don’t send your staff off without a daily recap. Explore what worked, what didn’t and how to change up visitor interactions for the next day or next event. Discuss the challenging conversations held with attendees and document them; this will help set a tone for the next day’s success and help the staff better address difficult questions and unexpected needs you may not have considered.
There are many factors that contribute to successful exhibiting at trade shows, but your bottom line will depend on having the right people and making sure those people have the right training. A well-planned and well-executed “face-to-face” experience will ensure you achieve your show goals and objectives, and set the stage for the success of your entire program.
About the Author
With more than 22 years of exhibit industry expertise, including experience on both the client and supplier side, Terry brings a wealth of knowledge to her role as Vice President Client Relations, Healthcare. Over the last 17 years with EG, now GES, Terry has worked in multiple capacities including marketing, sales management and client services. In addition, she has directly managed some of the company's largest global accounts including Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Gambro Healthcare, Pfizer and Schering-Plough.More Content by Terry Campanaro