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Successful Trade Shows: Tips For Training Your Booth Staff

May 31, 2008
One of the keys to successful trade shows is the training of your booth staff. Each trade show requires a specific marketing message targeted to a unique prospect and an exhibiting staff that can communicate with that audience.

Making the most of trade shows means that it is crucial to have a knowledgeable, qualified and highly trained sales staff at your trade show booths.

Before the trade show, rehearsals and training sessions for your exhibiting staff are essential to achieve your goals. And, sometimes the training covers some basic information, yet it often bears repeating.

Basic tips for training your exhibit staff:

1. Hire an exhibit staff trainer before your trade shows.

2. Have a trainer in the trade show booth to set up procedures and monitor booth activity.

3. Provide incentives (to stimulate trade show booth traffic, give a gift coupon out every hour).

4. Be good custodians of your (and your visitors') time. Proactive learning on how to engage and courteously dismiss visitors at trade shows in a professional manner is critical.

5. Staff the trade show booth with personnel who match up well with prospects - i.e., engineers from your firm if prospects are engineers, etc.

Tips for attracting visitors at trade shows:

1. Have a warm smile and a welcoming persona.

2. Enthusiastic behavior; have direct eye contact, confront prospects by greeting, then engaging, and, finally, qualifying them.

3. Be professional and courteous, have authority and a solid knowledge about your product or service.

4. Treat visitors as they are your guests - same as you do at your company or in your home.

5. Demonstrate a receptive body language. Have your arms under control and your posture erect. Be proactive.

6. Trade Show Booth housekeeping is a must. Maintain a neat, clean and tidy appearance at all times.

7. Your name badge should be on the right side of your body so when you shake hands people see it clearly.

Tips for things to avoid doing at trade shows:

1. Do not eat, drink or chew gum.

2. Do not make or accept phone calls (leave the trade show booth to make calls).

3. Do not sit (except in conference area of your trade show display to conduct client business).

4. Show up on time - Do not show up late. Be considerate of your booth mates.

5. Never leave your trade show display unattended.

6. Don't visit socially in the trade show booth with your co-workers or neighboring booth staffers.

Tips for engaging trade show visitors with effective sales techniques and tactics:

1. Greet and engage prospect or client (30 seconds).

2. Probe prospect with questions memorized from a lead sheet (who, what, why, when, where) to determine their requirements and their timing.
This is the positioning and pre-qualifying stage (1 1/2 - 2 minutes).

3. Determine if the trade show prospect is qualified or not. If not, professionally dismiss them.

4. If they are qualified - go into a demonstration, lead to deeper dialogue, answer questions, present details on services/products (up to 5 minutes).

5. Get permission to proceed or get deeper into subject or schedule further dialogue.

6. Wrap up - inform them of where you go from here. Move toward the future appointment or sale. Set a time to reconnect. Swipe their badge or get their business card. Plan to follow up by sending materials to their office so that the package is there when they return to their desk immediately after the trade show.

Just reflect on how much more powerful your results at trade shows could be if your staff members each dedicated their efforts to improve performance in a selected tip category for every show they attend. Your results at trade shows would soar and it could all come from using this tip sheet as your checklist for success.
About the Author
Dick Wheeler is President of Professional Exhibits & Graphics, headquartered in Sunnyvale, California with showrooms in Sacramento and Sunnyvale. Find more useful tips for successful Trade Shows in the news section of their website.
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