Article by Sebastien Robillard
Although we’d all love to know the secrets to the best booth staff, there really is no one answer. Selecting the right people for the job is what you do for your business year round and the same rules should apply when attending a trade show. Unfortunately from my discussions with lots of exhibitors and from my observations on the show floor, booth staffing still seems to be a real challenge for some companies.
Here are a few tips to help you get the results you want with a staff that can help you achieve them.
1. Bring the Right Staff
Numerous times I have heard exhibitors telling me that they have a strong presence on the show floor since they bring all of their top sales people but still don’t understand why they can’t achieve the goals that were set for the show. Let’s put the myth to rest: Your top sales reps are not the only people you should take to a show or event. Unless you actually plan on closing sales on the floor, your reps will get bored and uninterested very quickly. A trade show is primarily meant for interacting with potential clients to showcase who you are and how you can fit their needs.
It is crucial that all booth staffers are present during the show, and that means mentally as well. Everything comes back to your objectives for exhibiting at a show. If it isn’t your primary objective to close sales on the floor, there is no need to bring your closers to the show. This doesn’t mean your reps are off limits; it may be a good opportunity for them to see another side of the industry and gain experience by hearing pain points directly from a potential lead.
If you have products or services make sure to bring someone with in-depth knowledge of those particular items. There is nothing more frustrating for a visitor than traveling to an event to meet with a company, only to find they can’t get any more information that the website offers. If your objective is to generate leads through conversation and interaction, think about who in your company will best fit that role. It doesn’t matter which department they come from – marketing, customer service, sales, engineering, or management.
2. Train Your People
Do not assume everyone knows what to do a trade show or event. It is a fair assumption that just because someone works at your company, it doesn’t mean that they have the tools needed to staff a booth well. Training before an event is pivotal. Unless it was in their job description when you hired them, lots of people are just thrown into the role of staffer without proper direction. Hold a training session that covers how to engage leads from the aisle, how to start a conversation, what questions to be prepared for, and a general knowledge of products or services. If demos are a part of your showcase, make sure everyone is prepared.
3. Communicate and Explain
It may or may not surprise that the “why” you are going to a show may vary, depending on who in the company you ask. It’s important to make sure all managers are on the same page and that the objectives are clear to not only them, but to the entire staff at the show. There is nothing more confusing for a staffer then getting mix messages from different managers or departments.
Second to having a clear objective, your sales team should be in the loop about gathering leads. Have your sales team outline exactly what they need from each lead and what information will help them follow up better. Communicate to the booth staff what information is required for a lead so that they understand this is the criteria a sales rep will use to follow up. This is how you get great qualified leads and great follow up!
4. Think About Your Staff
It doesn’t matter if you do 2 shows a years or 25, don’t forget about your staffers. They are working hard for you and are tired, away from home, and probably eating poorly. Don’t be so focused on the outcome of the show that you forget about the people helping you reach it. Give them breaks, allow a good night’s sleep, and show your appreciation for their efforts while at the show by maybe taking them for dinner after a long day on their feet.
5. Set the Rules of Engagement
This one is one of the most important ones, make sure your staffers know how to engage the visitors. I briefly mentioned booth staff training above, and I again reiterate the importance of this. An open ended question will stop a lot more traffic than a traditional, ”How are you?” You should also follow the simple rules of no emails, phone calls or food in the booth during show hours. I’m still astonished at how many shows I walk and I still see this rude and unprofessional behavior.
This is just a short list of ways to improve your booth staffing performance, and certainly doesn’t cover everything. But by choosing the right staff and giving them the right tools, you’re off to a great start.
If you’re interested in more booth staffing conversation, have questions, or have something to add, please leave your comments below.