Let’s face it: trade shows aren’t as glamorous when seen from the inside as they are from the outside. Those who haven’t been initiated see good trade show booth staffers as traveling to wonderful places, staying at high-class hotels, eating on an expense account and meeting people who want what you have to offer.
But those who’ve been around a show or two know it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. There are long hours, stressful set-ups and teardowns, and dealing with contractors that can be less than helpful at times. The frustrations don’t end when the show is over for the day. Oh no. There’s still work to be done before the next day begins.
So the people working your booth need to know what they’re getting themselves in for. Selling them a bill of goods just to get them to work a show will almost always backfire. This probably means more work for you in the long term, and a less than successful show in the short term.
There are proven, demonstrable traits that make good trade show booth staffers. Bob, the guy in your office who whines all the time, probably isn’t the right person for the job.
Here are the traits you’re looking for:
- Positive attitude: This is the primary reason why Bob won’t make a great trade show staffer. A good staffer has a positive outlook on business, as well as life in general.
- Extrovert: Again, Bob probably isn’t your guy. A good staffer won’t be afraid to approach a stranger and introduce himself.
- Energetic: Whiners like Bob aren’t usually high-energy types. What you need is a staffer who’s willing and able to be on his feet for eight or more hours a day, interacting effectively with anyone who crosses his path.
- Knowledgeable: Poor Bob. He knows enough to do his job, but he probably doesn’t know your products and your company inside and out. He’s also not proactive enough to know the market and your competitors, so he can’t answer all the questions a booth visitor might ask before being ready to write an order.
- Good questioner: Bob’s more interested in talking than listening. And that’s not a good trait for a booth staffer. What you want is someone who asks thoughtful open-ended questions before launching into a product pitch.
- Even better listener: This isn’t one of Bob’s strengths. Bob probably listens enough to know what he wants to say next. But you want someone who listens to understand, and looks for the intent of the speaker, not just what he or she says.
- Succinct communicator: When Bob complains, he goes on and on. But a good show staffer tells your company’s story in a clear, concise and convincing manner. He also makes the story interactive, putting the booth visitor into the picture.
- A closer: There are no two ways about it. If you don’t write orders, your show will be a disaster. So you need someone who can convince a qualified prospect to take the next step, whatever that may be.
So don’t send Bob the whiner to staff your booth. You won’t be pleased with the results. Bob’s exactly the guy you don’t want working your exhibit.
Even if your company is filled with guys like Bob, you can improve on an employee’s ability to effectively work a trade show booth with some training and a few simple steps that set people up for success.
We’ve spoken at length in many of these articles about the value of trade show staff training. I’ll simply say that it pays for itself in its ability to help your people do the job they’re being tasked with. Trade shows are a unique and uncomfortable selling environment for many people. Training can help them overcome their discomfort and learn the tools required to sell on the show floor.
Finally, what steps can you take to set your staffers up for success?
First, you need the right number of people in the booth. One person staffing a ten by ten booth all by himself all day is a recipe for trouble. For a number of obvious reasons, there will be times during the day when your booth will not be staffed. And that’s not good. Always plan to send a minimum of two people, so at least one is always available.
If possible, include people from different departments: sales, technical, customer service and management. This ensures that you’ll have people on hand who can answer any question a visitor might have about your company or its products.
Plan for a preshow meeting with your booth staffers. Before the show opens, go over your product message and how you’ll be handling leads. Take a walk through the booth and allow your people to ask questions. Set goals for the number of leads or the value of sales for each day.
If you look for people within your company who possess those eight traits I mentioned, you’re going to end up with good trade show booth staffers who will do a stand-out job staffing your company’s trade show exhibit.
And if you have some people who are deficient in those characteristics, improve their ability to take on a trade show with training. Then set up a booth duty schedule, send the right number of people representing different departments within your organization, and clearly define your goals and objectives. With support like that, you might even make your “Bob’s” into good trade show booth staffers!
As much as 85% of the results you can expect from a trade show have to do with the staffers you send to the show. But that team can’t do their job without an effective exhibit. To get the best selection of modular tradeshow displays and exhibiting accessories for your good trade show booth staffers, make American Image Displays part of your team. Call (888) 977-8076 or email [email protected]