A Booth Staff Trainer’s Top 7 Strategies – Part One

10x20 trade show exhibit

Don’t Leave a great booth empty. Fill it with a trained staff!

We’ve mentioned many times in this blog how much we value the role of the staff trainer when it comes to making the most of your participation in a trade show.

The reason is simple; it’s an unusual selling environment. It takes a special and unique set of skills to capture the attention of passersby, get them interested in your product or service and put them on the road to becoming customers.

It’s not a process they teach you in traditional sales training, and sometimes it’s even a bit counter-intuitive. If you can’t pick the right booth staff, you can train them to be the right booth staff.

So that’s why I speak so highly of the role a booth staff trainer can play in your success on the show floor.

We still encourage you to enlist a professional’s skills when getting your staffers ready for their next show and avoid having the appearance of disengaged booth staffers.

But if that’s not possible, here’s the next best thing: seven strategies from one of the best staff trainers in the business, Matt Hill. He’s the principal trainer with The Hill Group, based in San Jose, CA. We asked him for some ideas and expanded on each of his strategies.

Strategy #1) Be Approachable

There are plenty of simple things you might be doing that make yourself appear less approachable to attendees, and you don’t want to give any visitor any reason not to approach you.

There are actually lots of subtle cues that tell people that you’re too busy to bother – don’t allow any of these counterproductive behaviors!

  • Maybe you and your colleagues are standing in a circle, discussing the latest new product announcement – or the latest ball scores. Either way, you’re all giving off the vibe that you don’t want to be interrupted.
  • Are you standing at the edge of the booth’s carpeting, creating a wall that keeps a potential booth visitor out?
  • Despite all efforts to the contrary, this one still happens all the time. Staffers are eating, drinking, reading, or talking on their cell phones while in the booth. Turn this situation around: would you interrupt a person doing one of these things to ask a product question? If you wouldn’t, the same is true for the attendees you’re prospecting.

Strategy #2) Ask the Right Questions

There are several questions passersby need to be asked to determine whether or not they’re really prospects. The questions you shouldn’t be asking are, “Are you enjoying the show?” or “Can I help you?”

The right questions help you to qualify the booth visitor to learn more about his or her potential. You want to find out:

  • His or her role in their company’s purchasing process
  • If the company has funding or a budget for your product or service
  • When the company might be ready to make a purchase
  • If your prospect would like to have a salesperson follow up with them after the show

Strategy #3) Dismiss Non-Prospects

Not everyone at every show is a prospect for what your company provides.

You’ll meet many people who aren’t in a position to do business with your company, and you don’t want to spend all your time talking with them.

They may simply not have the budget at this time or be in the position to spend the money.

Or they may be “tire kickers” who never seem to buy but love to talk. In any case, it’s up to you to dismiss them.

This is one of those times when it seems counter-intuitive to do what’s necessary to end a conversation and move the person along so that you can be investing your time with the right people. Dismissing a non-prospect boils down to three steps:

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  • Look him or her in the eye
  • Shake his or her hand
  • Say, “Thanks for coming by. Enjoy the rest of the show”

If you’d like, offer a low-value premium, such as an imprinted pen or cell phone strap. It’s not what you’d give to hot prospects, but it’s something to acknowledge that the attendee did stop by.

Strategy #4) Make Demonstrations Short

Remember, your product demo or live presentation isn’t going to (and shouldn’t) tell prospects everything about your product or service; however, it can still prove to be a crowd gatherer.

Ideally, you want the demo to be focused on your visitor’s needs or interests.

To make this happen, ask questions to focus the demo, like “How many widgets do you presently own, and how many do you think you’d need for your projected growth?” or “What’s the most important factor for you in choosing a new widget provider: cost, logistics, service, supplier’s reputation, or available innovations?”

Again, you’re not there to tell your company’s entire story, demo every product in your line, or mention every award your product or service has won.

Your demo should deal with your prospect’s most pressing needs – and not much else.

Trade Show Booth Staff Training in Review – After the Show

Our top strategies our great for during the show and even during the planning process. But what happens after the trade show has ended?

Following Up with Prospects

You need to learn and train each booth staffer on the follow-up procedure after the show. If you decided to use a lead retrieval system to keep everything organized, then it will be pretty easy to keep track of and split up your lead lists. Always map out how you will divide out the leads, so you can follow up properly. Having everything planned out ahead will make things easier on you after the show.

Create Your Strategy

Your follow up strategy requires a prompt response, and your booth staffers need to understand the importance of this. Since they worked the trade show, they should have a pretty good idea when it comes to the leads and the level of interest those leads showed during the trade show.

Housekeeping Details

Once you have read all of our 7 strategies, you should then review the following housekeeping details you want to make sure are included in your training sessions with exhibit staff.

A booth staffer will typically have different skill and experience levels compared to the next, so you want to make sure everything is covered when it comes to every little detail of the trade show.

  • Make sure all staffers know where to pick up their badges ahead of the trade show. This is typically done in exhibitor registration if you aren’t supplying the badges yourself.
  • You will then need to review the times and dates that everyone will need to be there and available. Discuss everything that is expected of them and inform them of what to do if they can’t make it on a certain day or if they are running late.
  • You can then begin to review the staff schedule and make sure it is posted for everyone to see.
  • Finally, make sure to reinforce the company’s dress code. If there are uniforms, make sure each member of the booth staff has the proper attire. If not, they can stick out like a sore thumb and it can have a negative impact on the overall display.

Remember, each staff member of your trade show booth is acting as a brand ambassador. A brand ambassador is there to represent the company in a positive and professional light to increase brand awareness and sales. They embody the corporate identity of the company encompassing appearance, demeanor, values, and ethics.

Trade Show Booth Etiquette

Before we go, let’s review a bit about trade show booth etiquette. Here are a few things a booth staffer should avoid and what they should do while catering to potential clients and target audience at trade shows:

  • Never cross your arms or legs
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets
  • Always be mindful of those in the booth space
  • Don’t intrude on the space of another exhibitor
  • Listen more and talk less

Now it is time to finish up with Matt’s three final strategies, including the best way to conclude your interaction with prospects to grease the tracks to becoming a customer. So, head on over and read A Booth Staff Trainer’s Top 7 Strategies – Part Two.

Please come back for that, or visit our website at American Image Displays to read it if you’ve found this post mentioned elsewhere.

And that’s not the only reason to visit our website: we’ve got an impressive variety of pop-ups, modular and custom exhibits, as well as accessories like literature racks, banner stands, and lighting kits.

Talk with us about how we can help you by calling (800) 676-3976 or email [email protected]