You know that your booth staffers
are one of your most valuable, if not the most valuable asset
when exhibiting at a trade show or hosting a business event.
However, you may feel like you have little to no control over
how they perform at the show. Yet, by selecting the right
staffers, offering appropriate incentives, recognition, and
training, you can be sure they will rise to the challenge and
become excellent brand ambassadors for your company.
Make Staffers Accountable
For example, if you have no
accountability for the leads or connections that they make at
the trade show they are likely to be unmotivated to reach out to
prospects and may spend most of their time on their phone.
Think about it, if they answer their emails they will be
rewarded by their supervisors or clients for being responsive.
Furthermore, if you as a trade show manager donít provide goals
or incentives staffers will have little motivation to make a big
effort to reach out to prospects.
Make sure staffers know that you
will evaluate and communicate their performance to them and to
Communicate the team goals for
the show to staffers and give them an idea of the number of
meaningful conversations they should strive for each day, but
spend the bulk of your training time talking about your
companyís goals, your customers, what you offer as a company and
how to be a good host. The overall message should be to treat
each booth visitor as the important guest they are. You want
clients leaving the booth with a better impression of your
company than what they started with.
Some would argue that this could
be a waste of time. What about the competitors that come to
scope us out? What about the client who you know is not buying
anything else? What about the person who is just coming over
for the giveaway? Let me say this, I would much rather a
staffer spend too much time talking to a competitor or give away
a few too many giveaways than they are inattentive or rude to a
visitor because they did not take the time to listen or because
they prejudged someone based on preconceived notions.
If you motivate staffers simply
based on the number of leads they get, then they will think of
prospects as ďjust another leadĒ rather than as an individual.
Granted, if you select your staffers appropriately they will
likely be polite and qualify prospects. Yet, they may rush from
one interaction to the next because they are focused simply on
the number of leads.
Part of this issue can be
overcome by properly training staffers on the right qualifying
questions to ask. Still, if you are judging their performance
on the number of leads that will likely distract them from
taking the time to ask questions and have a meaningful
conversation with the prospect.
Questions Staffers Can
Use to Engage Visitors
One of the hardest things about
staffing is knowing how to start a conversation without feeling
like a used car salesman. You want to be authentic, but at the
same time, you canít just wait for people to come to you. I
cannot tell you how many times people have said to me after a
conversation on the trade show floor ďI am so glad you stopped
Here are 10 Sample
Engagement Questions Staffers Ask:
- What brings you to the show?
- What have you heard about
- What problems are you
looking to solve by attending this show?
- What have you seen at the
show that you have found interesting or useful?
- What are you looking to
learn by attending this conference (or event)?
- Have you seen our demo and
what did you think about it (if you donít have a demo you
may want to consider it)?
- Can I offer you some water,
soda or a snack? While this may draw people who are not
necessarily in your target it is a small cost to pay if your
exhibit is empty and you are more likely to meet someone
interesting by doing this than by just standing around.
- Did you sign up for our
<fill in relevant> giveaway raffle? Make sure you prequalify
- What did you think about the
- Did you want to sit down for
a minute? Use this with qualified prospects.
Training for Hospitality
How do you train that level of
hospitality? Donít people just have that, or donít? While many
traits are inherently well suited for someone to be a good
staffer (such as friendly demeanor, curiosity, conscientiousness
and company and product knowledge), most staffers will benefit
from learning, or being reminded, about important staffing
skills (such as how to engage people, product knowledge and tech
tips on lead capturing).
Also, sharing general demographic
information about who your customers typically are and reminding
them that this is the opportunity to actually meet and listen to
customers in person will help. If staffers know who the client
is likely to be, they will be better prepared to host them. You
can typically get this information from the show organizer of
from your companyís own marketing research. This is especially
important if you send out invitations to prospects and make
appointments as those clients should get extra special treatment
as they are prequalified.
Selecting staffers that
understand that they are representing not just your company, but
also your brand is invaluable. However, also reminding them of
how acknowledging and listening to visitors can make the
difference between a good and a mediocre experience. A good
resource to consider is a book by Danny Meyer, the hospitality
expert and author of Setting the Table Ė
The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business.
Donít Forget About
It is so tempting to think about
trade shows as only a way to get new names. So easy to think
that you can talk to your customers at a different time because
you are at this event to meet new prospects. So natural to want
to only think about what is in it for you and your company.
Donít get me wrong, I think the primary focus should be getting
a good return on our presence at the show and hopefully making
numerous sales as a result of the valuable contacts obtained at
the show. BUTÖ that is not ALL that the show is all about.
The trade show is also an
opportunity for you and your employees to learn more about
existing clients. Find out if they are happy, or not, with your
products or services. These events allow you to connect with
business associates, to meet people (who while not your
prospects now, could be so in the future or who you can help),
to learn more about your industry and the people in it, to
listen. Because, when you take the time to really listen to
your customers, and to your business associates, you have the
opportunity to not just make one sale, but to really help them,
and to develop a long-term business relationship. This is the
type of thing you canít do online. This is what face-to-face
marketing is all about.