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An Open Letter To The Sales Guys Staffing Our Trade Show Booth

An Open Letter To The Sales Guys Staffing Our Tradeshow BoothDo you have sales people who are “volunteered” to staff your trade show booth?  While you welcome the good help, there are some things that could make sales people great help. So here’s an open letter to your sales people who will be staffing your trade show displays.  Share it with whomever you wish!

Dear Sales Guy,

You have been hand-chosen to staff our booth at our next trade show. We picked you because you have so many of the skills and knowledge we need:

  • You know our products inside and out, our competitors, and most importantly, our customers.
  • You’re friendly, have good people skills, and aren’t afraid to strike up a conversation.

These are essential skills for a booth staffer.  However, there are some…issues…that I’d like to address, and hope that these 9 points will enlighten you and help you be an even greater staffer in our booth:

  1. Rise Up To The Challenge:  You can help us reach more prospects face-to-face over the next 2-3 days than you’d be able to see in more than a month of field selling.  We’ve invested substantial marketing dollars to drink from this sales fire hose.  So be focused and engaged, and help us grow the company.
  1. Your New Quota:  While staffing our booth, you have a new quota: 2 qualified leads an hour.  So leave the office behind and concentrate on helping us achieve a successful show.
  1. Shift Gears:  The trade show isn’t the same as field selling.  You don’t have 20 minutes to chat about the local football team or what you did last weekend.  In that short time you’ve lost too many potential leads who walked by the booth.  You’ve got to build that relationship quickly so you can then qualify them. Present only the part of our story they care about, and then close on an agreed-upon next step.
  1. Talk To Attendees:  Throughout the show, keep focused on engaging potential prospects, not the other company employees. When you chat up our company big wigs in the booth, you’re actually taking two booth staffers out of action.  Better to impress them by hustling to get the most qualified leads. Even better, wait until you get your very best lead of the day, then introduce them to our company CMO, VP of Sales or other high-titled booth staffer.  You’ll impress the booth visitor, and our top execs, at the same time.
  1. Quality Leads:  Don’t complain about the trade show lead quality; improve it.  Just as every cold call you make doesn’t ring the cash register, not every visitor to our booth is an immediate sale.  So rate the leads, A, B, and C quality, and help prioritize lead follow up by your teammates, and ensure the best leads don’t get lost in the pile.
  1. Set Appointments:  Call your best clients and prospects to schedule meetings at the show.  Use the trade show to your advantage.  For prospects you haven’t been able to get an appointment in their office, you may get face time with them in our booth.  Once there, you’ve got all its visual proof, our top execs, and our new products to advance the buying cycle.  Or invite your clients, to up-sell or cross-sell them on our proven products they haven’t bought yet.  Tell me who and what times and I’ll set aside meeting space and corral whoever you need on our end to meet with them.
  1. Ignore Territories:  Work hard to turn visitors into leads, no matter if they are from outside your territory.  We’ve invested too much to have you not give your all because you won’t benefit 100% directly from the lead.  Remember that we’ve invested a lot in training, salary, and benefits to help you succeed as a company sales person.  And that somewhere soon, at another show we exhibit at, there’s another company sales person who is hustling to get a lead for you.
  1. All The Leads, Please:  While this may not apply to you, please, please, please don’t pocket your very best leads from the show. The sales you get will not get credited to the show, and so we may not be able to justify exhibiting the following year.  Which would mean fewer high quality leads for you in the future.  And if I can’t prove sufficient ROI from the show, I could even lose my job.
  1. Follow Up:  Follow up on our trade show leads immediately after the show. You’ve been away from your own accounts for a few days, and can’t wait to get back into your usual groove.  But remember that we’ve invested about $200-$300 per lead, and that many of these leads will buy from somebody.  That might as well be you – so if some get assigned to you, keep following up with them.  Better yet, when they do buy from you, let me know, so I can better track our trade show ROI, and keep improving our programs.

I’m grateful to have you on our booth staffing team.  Your skills, knowledge, and positive attitude will help us leave the show with a much fuller pipeline of future sales.  I hope you don’t think me too forward for writing you this letter.  Please keep an open mind and take these suggestions to heart.  Do that, help us succeed, and I’ll go to the wall for you.


Your Trade Show Manager

For more ways to take your booth staffers from good to great, read the Booth Staffing Guidebook.  This 48-page book is filled with insightful articles, worksheets, and checklists to get the most from your staff at trade shows. Click here to request your free copy. 

About the Author

Mike Thimmesch is the Principal at Thimmesch Marketing. For over 25 years, he has created and implemented innovative marketing, lead generation, and exhibiting strategies that profitably grow company sales and brand awareness. Mike rose to Director level at Skyline Exhibits, where he helped generate over a half million leads, resulting in over $1 billion in sales. He published 11 industry white papers and eight exhibiting books, presented over 100 trade show webinars, and wrote over 200 exhibit marketing blog posts.

6 responses to “An Open Letter To The Sales Guys Staffing Our Trade Show Booth

  1. Sales Guys? Are you kidding? What about the women who “man” your trade show booths? How about an open letter to the “Sales people staffing our trade show booth”…

    1. Hello Margaret,

      Sorry about that. I used the word “sales people” in the post itself, knowing of course that many sales people are women. But there is a flavor in the term “sales guy” that adds more emotional impact than “sales people,” so I chose that for the headline and the opening of the “letter.” Hope that helps you understand my word choice.

  2. I’m the tradeshow coordinator at my company and I manage the sales guys who go out on these shows. They know exactly what to do, but I found this helpful for myself, for when I actually get to go out and be in the booth. (which only happens once a year) I’ve actually never been trained to be in the booth, and all your articles help me!! So THANK YOU!!

  3. I’m in a similar situation as Patty! The article is great because it highlights the specifics and how to go about manning a booth. No need for a PC police, we know you mean well with your word choice!

  4. I appreciate that this post mentioned that when choosing a trade show venue, it is important to consider the capacity. Assuming I were organizing an event, I do believe knowing that guest number is important. I will definitely remember this for future references.

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