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How Do You Motivate Your Trade Show Booth Staff?

Motivated trade show booth staffHas this ever happened to you: You walk down the aisles of a trade show hall and are shocked by how many booth staffers hide behind counters, talk with colleagues, or even talk on their cell phones?

I often walk trade shows, and unfortunately, I just as often see the same uninviting situations described above.  I ask myself what their management would say and do about it.  They invested a lot of money into their trade shows, but good opportunities for meeting new prospects are lost or barely taken.

If you look more closely at well-trained booth staff teams, you’ll see what the biggest difference is between a moderately rewarding trade show and a really successful one: How motivated are their booth staffers?

While good advice can be expensive, there are exceptions to the rules.  So here are a few free approaches to properly prepare your booth staff for your next show:

Collecting unqualified leads is out. Do you know what happens to most leads and business cards after a show?  That’s right:  Too many leads are quickly thrown in the trash.  Moreover, you are doing it the easy way, if you simply only collect 200 leads at the trade show.

A motivating goal for both the sales staff as well as for trade show visitors should be to get qualified leads, not just leads.

For example, each booth staffer should make 15 firm agreements with your booth visitors, such as agreeing to meet again, to submit a price quote, to provide a facility tour – anything that demonstrates higher commitment.  This is the ultimate goal for someone to have, because such an agreement – after the show agreeing to a firm follow-up – requires highly developed communication skills.

Agree on the team rules. Cell phones and other interrupters do not belong in the trade show booth.  Other interrupters include booth staffers standing in groups talking to one another, and employees who are not booth staffers blocking the booth entrance.  Get your entire team to agree on proper booth behavior before the show.  Define the go’s and no-go’s.  Violations against these rules will be punished symbolically. (For example, the last one to go on break.)  Or even better: After the trade show, choose a Miss or Mister “Best Booth Staffer Behavior. ”

Teach the team to pay attention.  Do you know what makes an excellent waiter or a sensational customer service person?  He or she has carefully observed the restaurant and is attentive: attentive regarding looks, questions and wishes of the guests.   The same applies to trade show staff.  Never let your visitors out of sight.  Make an agreement as far as who from the booth staff will stay back if you are engaged in a conversation with a visitor.

Practice the speech with your team that you will give to booth visitors.  And if it isn’t possible for you to do that yourself, then have a trainer do it.  If you don’t have the courage to take risks and to seek advice from others, you lose the best opportunities available from trade shows.

Self confidence is required to muster the courage to give a speech.

Rehearse these open-ended questions. Questions are the tools of the trade show seller.  Only by practicing will it become flawless – and achieve the goal of the saying, “The one who asks, leads.” Never let control of the conversation be taken away from you.

Contact questions:

  • What interests you about our booth?
  • What exactly interests you about our solution?
  • What interests you in general about this show?
  • What are your objectives for this trade show?

Visitors qualifications:

  • In what capacity do you work at your company?
  • What does your company do exactly?
  • Where do you see potential to work with us on our products and solutions?

Final questions:

  • Do you have any interest in this innovation?
  • When exactly can I get in touch with you after the trade show?

The message should be short and to the point.  Ask five or six of your top sales people, what your firm does in general and what advantages you have over your competitors.  Challenge them to package the story into just 30 seconds.  Then compare the different statements with each other.  The result will be that you will hear six different stories.  Agree on just one best message as a team to use with all your booth staffers. By the way: the best messages are short, concise, new and interesting.  And the best messages are even more memorable when told as stories.

Use booth visits to forge agreements:  Your return on investment improves when conversations continue after the trade show.  You are therefore called upon to do the job so well that the visitor wants to meet with you after the show.

I wish you — and your motivated staff — a successful and profitable trade show!

Trade Show Booth Staffing GuidebookA well-trained booth staff is also a more motivated booth staff.  Click here to request your free copy of the 48-page Booth Staffing Guidebook, filled with insightful articles, worksheets, and checklists. 

About the Author

Mario Huggler runs one of the top 3 exhibit companies in Switzerland. The 10-time award-winning CEO from (Skyline Exhibit's representative in Switzerland) has 13 years exhibit consulting experience. Because Mario has made over 40,000 sales calls and client consultations, he has become one of the top exhibit industry experts in Switzerland.

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