Staffing for Trade Shows and Events has changed.
Before “Big Data” and the proliferation of electronic marketing it
was sales people who reigned supreme at the show. Their personality
and ability to connect with people were key tools for getting more
people into the booth. Crowd gatherers were big too as it was all
about getting people who you did not know to come into the booth and
learn all about your company. While salespeople can still be great
staffers and people skills are always great, the landscape of trade
shows has changed and with that the type of skills needed to staff
WHAT THEY NEED TO KNOW:
Why are you there? Are
you looking to gain new clients or nurture existing ones? Are
you planning to educate people on an existing product or launch
a new one? What are your goals for the show and how do they fit
into your overall marketing and company goal? It is also
helpful to give staffers specific goals they have control over.
An example may be to ensure they find out from the client if
they are aware of the new product, if they think it will meet
the need, and what steps the company should take to get that
client’s business. It may also be helpful to them to know
approximately how many leads they are expected to take
throughout the show and each day of the show.
not just about leads, it’s about relationships. There
are other ways your company can get someone’s name or email
address. However, this is the time to start a real relationship
with a qualified prospect by listening and making them feel
Technology should help not hinder. If
the client is there and wants you to talk or listen, don’t force
a video or demo on them just because you think it is cool.
about you and more about them. This
includes pitching your products. Find out about their needs,their interests, and
with your company or their current
control the customer experience. From the trash in the
booth to the time you take to ask how their day is going. The
trade show is a unique opportunity to truly control their whole
environment. Take advantage of it. They need to create an
experience that goes beyond the booth.
capture information. Capturing
information from clients via quotes, photos or videos is part of
the value of the show. This information can later be re-purposed
as marketing content that will extend the value of the event not
only from a marketing standpoint but also potentially to benefit
your product/service improvement and customer service
products or services that you are featuring at the show. If
they need training they should get it well before the show. As
products become more complex, hands-on time is even more
valuable. Staff will be expected to know more than just the
should be comfortable doing a live demo of your products or
service (as relevant) or, at the very least, access a video of
one. If they can’t do this well the effectiveness of your live
event will suffer and you will miss opportunities to build
credibility with new and existing clients.
WHO THEY SHOULD BE:
are not looking for someone to spew out everything already on
your website or marketing materials. They can get that by doing
a Google search. They need someone to truly listen to their
questions, needs, and tailor the message to them. In fact, the
attendee may have already searched your company, and will come
to your booth staffers with more knowledgeable questions. The
buyer is a lot more informed than they once were, prepare for
questions deeper than the surface of your company or products.
In contrast to your technical booth staffers, it is
important to have a good balance of personalities to engage with
your attendees. A Skyline booth staff veteran has this key take away
from her experience.
“Yes, it was important to have very knowledgeable
people in the booth but I would always balance those people with the
“Engagers”. For me, it almost mattered more that people in the
booth were people. They were engaging and outgoing and, frankly, fun
(without being pushy).” – AA
No one enjoys a pushy booth staffer!
they don’t need to know how to code, but… between lead gathering
apps, monitors and possibly digital signage, there are plenty of
opportunities for both leveraging technologies for the benefit of
attendees and for tech
glitches. You need someone who will not be afraid to
troubleshoot as needed, will be comfortable learning and using apps
as needed and can easily use technology to ensure the exhibit is
functioning and exhibitors get an optimum experience. Something as
simple as googling an answer or pulling up a key video on YouTube
should be a natural thing for your staffers. Their time and your
time with them are precious.
No one knows every single answer to
every question they get. However, there are some people who take
ownership of the question and ensure they can find the answer
and then follow up with the client as soon as possible. Your
staffers should be able to access answers with the client at the
show if at all possible, during the show and send the response
via email or phone or immediately after the show (within days at
Customer centric. If
they are not the type of person who will go the extra mile to
help a client they are not the right person to staff the booth –
emotional intelligence is key. You get seconds or minutes to
make a good impression in person with a current or potential
client. Many other companies are there competing for that time.
Your staffers need to be eager to make the most of every client
experience. One way to bring this home is to talk about the
potential lifetime value of each prospective client that walks
into your booth.
has always been inevitable at any live event and trade shows are
no exception. This is not new, but it has become even more
prevalent and expected. Technology is a big help, but will
increase the uncertainty of whether or not things will work as
planned. Your staff needs to be able to adjust course as needed
and do it with a smile.
One of Skyline’s veteran booth staffers had this to
say about the increased use of technology on the trade show floor:
“What I appreciate about where technology is now is
it allows the booth staffer to come alongside the attendee and join
their self-guided experience. This is achieved through the use of
touch screens and apps for iPad. It creates a feel of teamwork and
co-discovery. As a staffer, I became less of a presenter and more of
a companion.” – RM
Working as a team, instead of creating an “us versus
them” mentality makes the attendee feel welcomed. This is an example
of technology enhancing the face to face experience, rather than
detracting from it.
WHAT THEY SHOULD WEAR:
Ensure they are easily identifiable.
You don’t want attendees wondering who is staffing the booth and
who is a client, as time is precious
that they are comfortable yet professional unless it fits well
with your theme and branding. Comfortable shoes are a must.
Their feet will hurt regardless, but they will hurt more if they
are wearing the wrong shoes, which is likely to make them tired
and irritated. No one wants to interact with someone who
appears to be in pain. Besides, dress codes are much more
relaxed in most industries nowadays and good quality shoes can
and theme appropriate. Gone are the days that the
uniform at trade shows was branded cheap looking polo shirts.
You can be brand-appropriate without necessarily wearing a
uniform. This is more the case if you have a larger exhibit but
try to think of alternate ways you can make your staffers easy
to identify without making them look like they are ready for
their hourly shift at a local burger joint. You can have branded
name tags, accessories, all wear the same color shirts (not
necessarily the same style). You want your staffers to feel
comfortable. For example, if a lady has to wear a standard men’s
shirt that reaches down to her knees, she is not going to feel
WHAT THEY SHOULD HAVE:
Smartphone, tablet or touchscreen. Make
sure staffers have easy electronic access to key product/service
information so if they are asked a question they don’t know the
answer to they can easily check it on the spot and get back to
and venue information. They
should have this well before the show so they can make their
travel arrangements and clear their calendars well before the
hard copies. Paper
product/service cheat sheets well before the show so they can
review them on the plane and at the hotel before the show. Also,
lead card backups are always a good idea in case your Wi-Fi
sputters or you lose access to your lead gathering application.
If you have a staffer that can also
be a presenter of relevant industry data, your company will gain
added credibility and real face time with potential clients.
Those clients are then more likely to come back to visit your
staffers are active on social media they will be able to help
promote your presence before, during and after the show and they
are more likely to be recognized as someone potential clients
are already familiar with and trust.
These are a few of the things you should keep in mind
as you prepare to choose and prepare your staff for your next show.