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“Put That Coffee Down!” – 5 Ways To Fire Up Your Booth Staff

Glengarry Glenn Ross the ultimate sales meeting“Coffee’s for closers only.”  If you’ve seen the movie Glengarry Glenn Ross, you certainly remember a foul-mouthed Alec Baldwin who plays Blake in the film, barking at Shelley, portrayed by Jack Lemmon.  Blake is a tough talking sales leader brought in to motivate the group to close sales, who goes on to announce that for this month’s sales contest 1st prize is a Cadillac Eldorado, 2nd prize is a set of steak knives, and 3rd prize is you’re fired!

Blake’s technique probably a bit extreme and definitely inflammatory for the trade show floor but how do you convey your expectations and motivate your booth staff?

  1. Set Expectations. Meet with your staff prior to your trade show and clearly define their roles.  Make sure they understand the investment your company has made in participating in the show including the expense of travel & lodging involved.  Discuss your expectations in terms of gaining new leads and closing sales.  Get everyone on the same page for a rating system for your leads to help everyone understand where the leads are in the pipeline. Set goals with your staff and get their commitment to reach these goals.  Cover housekeeping rules such as being on time, on your feet, not eating in the booth, and the use of personal mobile phones in the booth.  If mobile marketing is part of your show promotions this may be acceptable but obviously this is not the time for personal business.   It is an exciting and fun time but it’s definitely not a vacation!
  2. Role Play. Role play with your team techniques for engaging prospects on the show floor.  Use role play to not only discuss how you will handle your qualified leads, but also how you will move those along who are not a good fit.  Make the role play fun and lighthearted to relax anyone’s inhibitions about being on the spot in front of their peers.  It’s always better to get those fumbles out in front of your peers and discuss how to answer those objections than to be in an odd situation in front of a prospect.  This is great for teambuilding and getting everyone on the same page.
  3. Prizes. Create a sales contest for closed sales or leads gained.  Ok, maybe not a Cadillac or set of steak knives but something that will get your reps attention and keep them focused on your goals for the show.  It could be a gift card to a nice restaurant or retailer, a paid day off, or maybe a round of golf!  You can have a winner for each day and/or an overall winner for the entire show.  Creating competition amongst your staff to drive results is an excellent way to motivate the team.
  4. Tell Who Gets The Leads. Address the distribution of leads after the show.  Make sure you are up front with your crew about how leads will be allocated. Whether it’s based on their performance at the show or some other metrics make sure everyone is clear so there is no dissension amongst the ranks.
  5. Demonstrate Accountability. Check with your team on how your new prospects are moving through the pipeline.  Don’t micromanage but let them know that you’re there to lend your expertise to help move them from prospect to client!

What are some of the techniques you’ve used to get the most out of your trade show booth staff?  Share your comments on booth staffing in the comments area below.

Trade Show Booth Staffing GuidebookLearn more ways to motivate your booth staffers to higher performance. Click here to get your free copy of the 48-page Booth Staffing Guidebook, filled with useful articles, checklists, and worksheets.

About the Author

Reggie Lyons was a Trade Show Marketing Consultant with Skyline Exhibits by Larry Reitz & Associates, located in Indianapolis, Indiana.

4 responses to ““Put That Coffee Down!” – 5 Ways To Fire Up Your Booth Staff

  1. Good post Reggie! I loved Alec’s role in that movie…maybe says a bit too much about me?

    I’ve found that sometimes it’s helpful to break down the costs of the booth into a per hour per person figure. This way when they wander off taking the really long way to the restroom they know their little walk cost the company $1000 dollars.

    It amazes me how many companies do not follow your great advice. My husband has to…I mean gets to…pull booth duty for his company and he says he has no idea why he’s there. All they tell their staffers is what time to show up and give them a long list of rules. No other communication is attempted. No wonder they are less than thrilled with the prospect of working in the booth.

    1. Thanks Traci! I like the idea of breaking down the costs into a per hour per person figure so there is more accountability. In order to achieve the ROI everyone’s looking for, it has to start with proper training and setting expectations.

  2. As marketing coordinator for my firm, being in charge of our booth and various activities at trade shows is my favorite thing to do. It takes hours of hard work, on my feet for hours on end, smiling and pleasant to all who come through the booth, but I can’t imagine not doing it. I am the first (and only one) to arrive at 7 a.m. and the last one to leave, chairs are for clients to sit in and food is for the attendees to enjoy. Whether in our booth or around the conference, I am the “face” of our company and I represent our firm 24/7 while I am there. I am always mindful that I may be the only person someone may remember from our firm at the end of the day. It had better be a good memory.

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