Some companies train
their staff - other do not. Why?
They don’t view it as
necessary. After all, their staff knows how to sell. They sell the
company’s products and services everyday. Why train them again? The time
the spend in training, they could be out in the field selling and making
the company some money
.t hey don’t see the
difference between field selling and tradeshow selling. Because they have
no appreciation for the uniqueness of the selling situation at a
tradeshow, they don’t see the need for specific preparation.
The technical staff is
very competent. They know all about the product. They can demonstrate the
product. What else do they need?
They don’t want to take
the time. They want to schedule their personnel to show up just in time
to work the show. Having them come in the day before is a waste of time
They don’t want to incur
additional expense. By having their staff arrive the night before the
show, they might incur additional hotel and meal expenses, in addition to
the cost of conducting the preshow training. They haven’t connected the
value of a prepared staff compared to one that just shows up.
They spend all their
resources on exhibit property, giveaways, live entertainment and have
nothing left for staff preparation. Exhibitors that don’t value staff
preparation are the one that feel that if you have committed to a new
exhibit, bought giveaways or promotional products and have an attraction,
what else do you need?
Staff preparation is
It is a
people-to-people medium where the quality of communication is critical.
There is nothing in an exhibit that can sell other than the people.
Everything in the exhibit, including the exhibit property, are tools for
the staff to use to engage, qualify, conduct a needs analysis, communicate
and message and obtain a commitment from the show visitor.
The manner in which we
communicate on a daily basis need to be different to be effective on the
show floor. Staff needs to be prepared to transition their thinking and
skills. A staffer has less that 5 minutes with a prospect compared to 45
minutes to an hour in the field. The style and approach to communications
are different and time is necessary to transition these skills so that the
staffer can adequately perform.
For staff who are
involved in sales, beginning a conversation with a total stranger is often
uncomfortable. Most sales personnel have their calls tee’d up for them via
telemarketing or some other lead generating activity. At a tradeshow it is
one cold call after another until you find a “suspect” that qualifies as a
“prospect”. The staff lack all the visual clues that might exist in an
office visit. So training offers some thoughts on what to say and how to
begin a dialog with someone you know nothing about. Technical staff who
are typically involved with product more than daily face-to-face
communications, need skill preparation to ensure a level of comfort so
that the on-the-floor conversation take place at all. Training and
preparation are required to provide information about the audience - what
are the demographics at this show - what characteristics are they seeking
in a prospect - what qualifies a visitor.
Training is important to
orient the staff to the event. Because exhibiting is creating an event in
the mind of the attendee. Without knowing the strategy and thinking behind
the exhibit and the graphics, the demonstrations, the live presentation,
the promotional products, collateral materials, the staffer is just taking
up space. Training has two dimensions: One is the orientation, the other
is the skill development. It is the orientation to new products or product
messages that might be different than ones they are communicating on a
daily basis. And the skill development needed to fine-tune their
How can staff
training affect your ROI?
Only the staff can sell
in an exhibit. And revenue produces ROI. A trained staff can affect
program enormously. If the objective at the show is to demonstrate new
product to 20% of the attendees, then training the staff on how to conduct
an effective demonstration will enhance the exhibitor’s ability to
generate a ROI.
feedback after the demonstration is also an objective, then training the
staff in interviewing skills and methods for capturing visitor information
will enhance the exhibitor’s ROI. If increasing name awareness is the show
objective, then having staff that can effectively communicate a clear, and
concise message to as many show attendees as possible, not just current
customers, will enhance ROI. Only training and preparation can create an
economic environment from one that is show and tell.
What about those staff who have “been there -
Think in terms of skill preparation, not
Play upon the competitive nature of a sales
staff and make it work by rewarding those that achieve established
Make the selection of staff selective- turn it
into a reward rather than a perceived punishment.
Create bonuses for working together even if
not in their territory.
Create a plan for the person who generated the
lead to benefit when the sales is closed by another.
Don’t attempt to teach booth selling, but focus on transitioningwhat the
staff does well already to the trade show environment.
Use the “know it all’s” as
assistants in the training as discussion leaders, through role plays, etc.
Booth etiquette - Do’s
Do what you would do in
the office of a prospect. A sales person would never think of eating
their lunch in their prospect’s
office so why do it in an exhibit?
Avoid what you know is
bad decorum - , drinking, talking to other staff, and using the phone
presence whether they are qualifiable or not. What visitors want most of
an exhibitor is to be noticed and acknowledged. If you ignore them they
will tell others of their treatment.
You have one opportunity
to make an impression - be certain it is a good one.
Exhibiting is a group
selling experience. It’s OK to talk with several people at one time, but
remember to close on the person that was there first, and then go on to
Staff are depending upon
one another to be there for their shift, so schedule appointments during
times you are not assigned for booth duty.
Remember the 80/20 rule.
The visitor talks 80% of the time and we only talk 20% of the time so that
we have time to hear their needs.
Don’t allow visitors to
“hit and run” you for either literature or promotional products. There
has to be a “trade” - your item for information that will further the
Say “Thank you” even if
you cannot help them. They took their time to see if you could fill their
needs. Sometime in the future you might be able to fill their needs and
they will remember those two little words “Thank you” for taking the time
Stand erect, with both
feet on the floor spread about the width of your shoulders with your hands
at your sides showing an open, friendly and confident stance. Leaning on
product or property or sitting down shows a lack of interest.
It is demeaning to adults
to be given a list of do’s and don’ts. Coach the same information in
question form or in a positive statement. Rather than saying “Don’t talk
on the phone in the booth” say “ As an attendee, what message would you
pick up from a staffer using a phone while on booth duty?”
Staff training sets the
stage - it provides the needed information to the staff so that they can
perform in a confident manner. Adults find change and different
environments uncomfortable. Through training we can provide a comfort
level that will ensure better performance for we have eliminated the
unknown and provide them with a comfortable environment in which to work.
© 2011 by Marc