How many of us, and I mean us (I’m not throwing any stones) have assigned employees to work a trade show and then given little or no instructions. Sure, we all choose outgoing and knowledgeable staff members from sales and customer service, but that doesn’t mean they understand what a show is about or your expectations of them. And when you don’t share your expectations with your staff – what can you expect?

Trade Show Staff Basic Training  

Here are seven simple steps to trade show staff basic training. By sharing these steps with your staff, they’ll understand what you want and have the tools to meet your expectations.

Dress

I’m a big fan of uniform dress for trade shows. Golf shirts, jackets, and even T-shirts, done professionally, can make a positive impact at your booth. But what is professional dress? “To some extent, it depends on your business, the industry, and the event. Before dressing for a show consider what will fit the show, help you look like a pro, inspire confidence, be comfortable, and set you apart from your competitors.” — How to Dress for Success at Your Next Trade Show.

Smile

Okay really? Part of the trade show staff basic training is – smile? Everybody knows that, don’t they? If you think it isn’t important to tell your staff to smile — walk a show, and then tell me how many staffers at how many booths were smiling? And how many weren’t even aware of your presence as they sat at the back of the booth on their phone. “Everyone working your booth needs to face front and smile. It helps if they share pleasant greetings, and even better if they invite attendees to participate in whatever your booth has to offer, but it begins with a simple smile.” — The Little Known and Seldom Used Secret That Will Improve Your Trade Show.

Stand

“Sitting in the booth doesn’t prepare staff to interact with prospects and isn’t that why you have people at the show? If not, if you expect attendees to enter your booth, sign up, and grab collateral materials all on their own, why have any staff at all? You need staff standing up front and ready to greet and engage prospects.” — How Many Chairs Do You Need in a Trade Show Booth?

Greet

Give your staff a few basic greetings to try and then rehearse them before the show. For example:

  • Hello, may I ask what brought you to the show?
  • Hi, I have a question for you, what’s your favorite thing at the show so far?
  • Hello, may I ask how you use (product or service)?
  • Hi, you might as well sign up for our drawing, someone’s going to win, why not you?

The idea is to start a conversation. It’s simple and straightforward as that. Because, it’s difficult to discuss your product until you’ve begun a conversation with an attendee.

Engage

Conversations with prospects at a show should focus on them not you. The quickest way to lose someone’s interest is to drone on about the features of your product. So, instead of preaching about how great your service is, discuss the benefits to them. Begin the conversation inquiring about their needs. For example, let’s say you represent a home remodeling contractor, you could ask prospects open-ended questions such as:

  • What was your most recent home remolding project?
  • If you could magically snap your fingers and change something on your home what would it be?
  • What’s your next home remodeling project?
  • I’ve never seen a home that didn’t have some remodeling concerns, what are yours?

Gather

Whether you use a contest to capture contact information or request it from interested prospects, it’s important that your staff know to gather information. I’ve seen too many staffers hand out their cards, never ask for contact info, and wait for prospects to contact them. If that’s your lead generation plan, you’ll be waiting a long time for folks to call. Good luck.

“Once, I was asked to observe and consult for a regional electrical company exhibiting at a large home remodeling show. They had a beautiful display staffed with knowledgeable, friendly employees. They offered a sweepstakes prize consisting of a discounted service package. I observed the booth on day seven of the eleven-day show. In those seven days, only eight visitors had signed up to enter the sweepstakes drawing. The staff did not engage people; they waited at the back of the booth for someone to come to them. They expected the company’s name and the display’s imagery to do the work.

After about forty minutes of observation, I stood at the front of their booth and said to passersby, “Hello, I know one thing for sure — everyone will need an electrician sometime; you might as well sign up for the savings.” Ten people signed up in ten minutes. After asking them a few open-ended questions, four of were in conversations with staffers about their electrical needs.” — 10 Ways to Improve Your Trade Show Results.

Follow Up

After gathering information don’t waste it by burying it in a bottom drawer for the next three months. And to answer your question – yes, I have lost leads in this way. Whether you email, call, or send a thank you card, keep your name in front of the prospects you’ve collected. Here are more ideas,  6 Tips for Trade Show Follow Up Success.

Trade Show Success Starts with a Plan

If you’re working trade shows without a plan, by the seat of your pants, hoping everyone knows what to do then that’s your plan, and it’s not a very good plan. Your trade show plan begins with setting expectations with your staff. So, are the seven steps in this post the do-all be-all of trade show staff basic training? Nope, not at all. However, if you follow and train DSSGEGF (Dress, Smile, Stand, Greet, Engage, Gather, and Follow up), you’ll be ahead of most staffs.

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash