People may forget your booth, but they won’t forget your people. Once attendees enter your space, everything they know and feel about your company, organization, product, or service comes from the few minutes they spend with your booth staff. That makes your show training crucial. Here are some insider tips to turn your booth team into a sales-making machine.
Last Century Strategies
The concept of having your people standing around waiting for attendees to come talk to them is so “last century.” Trade shows aren’t throwaway events. They present the greatest opportunity for 1-on-1 interactions with the people you rely on for success – your customers. So job one is to know your goal.
Why Are You There?
Lead generation is the standard answer, but business generation is a better one. Face it: You don’t want to collect business cards. You want to generate revenue. Most lead generation strategies fall apart within 45 days of the event. Why? No follow-up, no response and no reason for the potential customer to give you more time and attention. The time to generate leads is before the event. Then at the show, actually close business! What’s the key?
Your People Can Be More Important Than Your Products
Remember: All that pre-event marketing and your fantastic booth design just get people into the space. It’s 100% up to your booth team to make the sale. Training and preparation are essential. If they don’t engage, listen, qualify and respond correctly, you just end up handing out brochures and t-shirts. Your sales force can spend days cultivating a relationship with a potential client. Your booth team has to do the same thing with dozens of people every hour.
Sadly, booth training is often an after-thought or doesn’t even happen. Don’t make that mistake. The show results you generate are directly proportional to how well you have chosen and trained your team. Success isn’t an accident. It’s intentional. You make it happen. Think about it for a second. What does it really take to succeed? The right:
Start with the Right People
You only have about 15-20 seconds to engage with someone passing by your booth. So the right person has to be standing there. Traditional logic says put in your top sales people because they know how to “talk the product.” But your top sales people may not be the best people for the booth, especially if they don’t want to be there. Trade shows demand flexibility, and field sales people are often accustomed to using a tried-and-true “elevator” pitch. That may be the best strategy in a potential customer’s office, but on the exhibit floor people want something new. They want to listen, learn and experience. They don’t want to be sold. So let us suggest a different approach.
Pick Staff with Attitude
People are drawn to energy and enthusiasm. It’s magnetic. Include booth staff who are excited about the opportunity to be there. They may be younger and less experienced, but you are going to teach them what to do and say. Look for:
To put it simply, bring the kind of people attendees will want to talk to. The smilers, the charmers, the love-the-product and can’t-wait-to-help-you people.
Psych Out the Show
Next, think about the potential customers attending the show. Who are they? What are their positions in the company? What are the key things they might need to know? Then be sure to have some members of the staff who are qualified to talk with them. Not everyone needs to be a software programmer or a medical expert. Just have an expert or two as members of the team.
The Right Preparation
Above all, don’t wait until just before the show opens to get your act together. Do a little homework and decide in advance:
- Why you are there
- Your goals for the show
- The target attendees
- The results you need
- Your overall booth plan
- What questions to expect and how to answer
- Who the competition is and what they will be saying
We recommend writing it down and giving the sheet to every person on your booth team. Go through in advance and handle any questions. Make sure everyone understands and agrees. Success depends on consistency. It’s a team, so they have to work together.
The Right Practice
Yep, the booth staff has to practice. Role play, actually go through the demos, work it until it’s natural and intuitive. That’s the only way to engage attendees and keep them in the booth. Here are a few more key tips:
Don’t Hard Sell!
More sales are lost at trade shows because staff members rush to sell. Remember, people love to buy – they hate being sold. Use the 5X1 Rule. Listen five times more than you talk. Let visitors tell you what they want, need or have to solve. Then come back with a solution that’s all about them. Make it a memorable experience that you share.
You are competing for their time and attention. Give them a solution they can’t refuse.
Know What to Say
What you say the moment you make eye contact is crucial. Every member of the booth team should have a couple of opening lines or conversation starters they can use to engage a visitor. Believe me, “Hi, how ya’ doing?” isn’t what we have in mind. Make them questions about the person. “What brings you to the show today?”
Your opening line needs to:
- Be relevant to where you are and what is happening
- Relate to their world and situation
- Offer something the person might want or need
Big point here: They are wearing a name badge, so use their name! Have your team brainstorm good opening lines and practice them. Obviously, you don’t want everyone using the same lines. Mix them up.
The Right Priorities
It is also important that everyone understands what is supposed to happen and how. If you are asking attendees to make appointments, know what happens when they show up. And, what happens next.
If you are doing presentations, know the schedule, who handles them and what you want all those attendees to do at the end. How do you take the engagement to the next step?
Demonstrations are a huge asset to drawing attendees into your booth space. But how do you decide which attendees are worth the time? While your demo stations are full, other potential clients or customers might walk away. What’s the plan?
Turn Your Booth Team Into a Sales-Making Machine
About 85% of the results your trade show investment generates come from the experience attendees have with your booth team. So use these tips and stack the deck. Choose the right people, accurately define the goals, process and the results. Train them, let them practice and then … turn them loose to get the job done.