On February 28th, 2017, Malcolm Gilvar, Executive Vice President of Sales at The Trade Group, led a seminar on Booth Staff Training and how to improve your current show floor system. According to Gilvar, companies can expect to see an “increase of 36% in ROI from first time you implement booth staff training in your program.” Trade shows are a crucial opportunity to connect with attendees and convert them into potential clients. 56% of attendees rate trade shows as having the most value of any face-to-face marketing interactions. In person sales calls are a distant second at 26%. People are going to shows to find what they need—90% of trade show attendees use trade shows as their number one source of purchasing information, and 57% of attendees will make a (show-influenced) purchase decision within 12 months.
The biggest impact on an attendee’s perception of a company doesn’t come from the exhibit, graphics or brochures—80% of visitors remember the exhibit based on booth staffers. With this fact in mind, you wouldn’t send unprepared staff out onto the show floor, right? Booth staff training can improve your performance by up to 36%, yet 52% admit to rarely or never training their staff, and only 1% employ professionals for training. Having an expert help train your team can make a difference and give you more credibility on the show floor.
Let’s explore how we can leverage the opportunity trade shows present.
Goals and Objectives
Only 30% of companies say they set objectives prior to an event. Having goals and objectives in mind prior to your event is important in keeping your team focused and gathering quantifiable results. Goals must be measurable and actionable, and are a generalization; while objectives are much more specific. (Ex. Goal: 100 leads per day, Objective: follow-up on all qualifying leads within a day of the show).
You should also be mindful to align tactics with goals and objectives (Pre-show, At-show, and Post-show activities). Strategize pre-show activities that drive attendees to your booth, at-show activities that appeal to and impact attendees, and post-show follow-ups with all qualifying leads.
To make goals and objectives effective, sales teams must be held accountable—but they also need to be prepared. For this to occur, upper management must take an active role—they need to supervise their team and be engaged on the show floor alongside them. Before you even set foot on the show floor, set goals and objectives for the team to meet within every session. After the day is over, gather reports from each member in order to take account of each session’s results. In addition, conduct daily accountability sessions (secret shoppers). Send a random company employee to measure booth staff engagement and quality, then follow up with a report of the findings.
Do’s and Don’t’s
There are a few do’s and don’ts that may seem insignificant, however, even small cues are unconsciously perceived by attendees within a few seconds of meeting your booth staff.
- Wear your badge on your right side: as you shake hands, their eyes immediately go to your badge.
- Be assertive: confidence is palpable, especially during initial conversations.
- Smile: Your jaw may ache at the end of the day, but you want to look approachable!
- Thank them for visiting: being gracious can go a long way in first impressions, even if they’re not a potential buyer. You never know where connections can lead.
- Listen: visitors will pick up on whether you’re just waiting for your turn to speak or you’re engaging in real conversation. Networking is about making a connection.
- Know your product: Research your products and take the time to understand what you’re selling and why it’s worth purchasing.
- Eat or drink in your booth: this looks sloppy and can soil your exhibit space. Take a designated break for eating and drinking.
- Sit: people are less likely to approach you—it’s your job to engage attendees.
- Read: again, engage attendees and take advantage of every opportunity.
- Chat with booth staff: if you’re talking with your fellow staff, who is conversing with attendees?
- Leave the booth unattended: potential buyers could be passing your booth.
- Use negative body language (e.g. crossing arms): subtle cues like this can be off-putting and drive attendees away.
The first step in garnering leads is to attract people into your space, and all of these activities will make you look disengaged and therefore unapproachable.
Trade Show Staff Challenges
When your team is at a trade show, it can be challenging for them in many ways. Both buyer and seller are outside of their normal environment, so the process of making a sale can be even more stressful. Also, since it takes only 3.5 seconds for an attendee to pass a 10’ x 10’ exhibit, your booth staff is in a race against time to attract each attendee into the space. Along with that, you can meet up to 100 prospects a day, so the challenge is being able to filter and qualify these attendees in a timely, efficient manner. In terms of attendee attention, you only have 3-5 minutes for each pitch, so your points must be concise and relevant to their interests. Lastly, your staff is only human. Their energy will wane at certain points in the day, so regularly rotate your staff to give each person breaks throughout the day.
Maximize Client Interaction
You want to bring quality interactions to the show floor, but delivering quality requires practice for your booth staff.
Why You Must Practice:
- Selling is simple, but not easy, especially when you are not in your comfort zone.
- Selling is a skill that must be fine-tuned to make the conversion flow natural.
- Confidence breeds confidence just as practice makes perfect.
4-Step Trade Show Process
75% of attendees have an agenda for who they are planning to see at the event, making pre-show marketing activities critical to getting attendees to come to you. With a 4-step trade show process, you can build a strategy for engaging, qualifying, presenting and closing your potential leads.
- Build rapport (likeability)
- Make eye contact and smile
- Learn what badge colors mean (each means something different – distributer, manufacturing, etc.—helps you engage with specific people that are relevant to you)
- Engaging questions (not yes or no) – ask open ended questions that promote further conversation
- Know elevator speech
- Be YOU (you’re not a robot)
Your goal is to quickly determine if someone is a potential buyer. If not, disengage. If they are, ask questions and rank them as an A, B, or C lead. Below is an example:
A: “Do you plan on making an exhibit purchase in the next 6 months?”
- If yes, this person is a potential buyer (A lead), and you should call these leads within a day or two of the show.
B (If no, ask another qualifying question): “How many shows do you do a year?”
- They might be willing to purchase later on (B lead).
C: If they are not purchasing in the next 6 months and do not exhibit at trade shows anymore, in this example, they would be a C lead. Disengage, as they no longer exhibit at trade shows.
Demonstrate or present your product or service based on the information you have gleaned during your qualification process. Ask enough questions and present in a way you think will interest them individually. You are looking for a “next step” that will eventually lead to a sale.
- Close the sale (although this doesn’t happen often on the show floor)
- Close the “next step”
- Collect their information and take notes about what they were interested in
Things to Remember
- Plan, practice, produce
- Hold your team accountable
- Measure your results daily
- Use a lead capture solution and grade your leads
- Consider customized staff training