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Training Your Booth Staff to Qualify Leads


Lead generation is the #1 goal for 85-90% of trade show exhibitors. But if your booth staff is doing no more than scanning badges or gathering business cards, they’re mostly just generating cold prospects. To ensure you’re providing valuable, actionable leads to the sales team, follow these tips.

Get Sales Team Input FirstWhat constitutes a qualified lead? If staffers are asking attendees for information that doesn’t matter to the sales team, your efforts on the trade show floor will be wasted. Tap the reps early in the process to find out the information they like to collect from prospects.

Remember “CHAMP”The latest acronym for qualification methodology is CHAMP: Challenge, Authority, Money, & Prioritization. These are the four factors that help you separate a hot lead from a swag collector:

  • Challenges. Determining the attendee’s pain points is the first order of business. What brought them to the trade show? What needs to they have that currently aren’t being met? How does that unmet need affect various people at the company? What could their current vendors be doing better?
  • Authority. This is arguably the toughest (yet most critical) thing for a rookie booth rep to determine. The person with buying authority is quite often NOT the person who asks the most questions, nor the trade show attendee with whom you develop the best rapport. Spending too much effort on an attendee without purchasing authority wastes everyone’s time. Find out who the decision makers are at his or her company.
  • Money. While it can be difficult or even sometimes undesirable to talk money in the casual environment of a trade show, there are some budget questions that can be helpful to sales. One of the most basic is if and when funds will be allocated to the attendee’s needs. Some buyers’ fiscal years match the calendar year, others start mid-year. Government buyers are often trying to use money by year-end, while academic buyers often make decisions in the spring. Just finding out how the budget signoff process works can be a huge asset to your sales team.
  • Prioritization. How critical is this need amid the attendee’s company’s other goals? What’s prompting him or her to do something about it now? What would happen if the issue is ignored, or a decision postponed? Getting these answers helps your sales team know when, and how often, to follow-up with the lead.

Write and Practice Your QuestionsThere are hundreds of ways to ask CHAMP questions of exhibit attendees, and no one way is right for every prospect, nor for every booth staffer. Role-playing in advance of the show can help your staffers refine their approach to match their personas, and to adjust their tactics “on the fly” depending on the responses received.

Recognize and Properly Address Existing ClientsNothing is more painful than overhearing an exhibitor mistakenly treat an existing customer like a cold prospect. Make sure staff is prepared to recognize these VIPs and to give them the warm welcome they deserve. Inquire about their current level of satisfaction and find out what, if anything, your team can be doing to better serve them.

After each show, meet again with the sales team to get their impressions of the leads your staff has collected. If there’s a quality control problem, it’s better to discover the root of it and make adjustments before you get too deep into your trade show season. With ongoing refinement, your team will secure better leads—and a better ROI—from your exhibits.

Final ThoughtsA beautifully designed booth is nothing without the people who staff it. If you want the most return on your investment follow the tips above and always remember prospecting does not end when the show does. The show is only the beginning.

Booth Staffing Tips & Tools for the Digital Era Reference Guide

Trade shows have been a consistent resource for generating leads and connecting with customers for many years. It’s one of the only ways to gain face-to-face access in one convenient location to a large proportion of your target clients.

This reference guide will provide insight into the changes in trade show booth staffing, what’s causing the shift, and how to best prepare your team. Your staffers – by engaging, qualifying and capturing potential customers – represent your best opportuntity for success on the trade show floor.

About the Author

Jenna Snyder was an Exhibiting Consultant with Skyline Greater LA in Los Angeles, California.

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