Training Your Staff for Trade Shows

For many trade show exhibitors, staff training tends to be at the bottom of the priority list, as more pressing matters, like booth design and planning, take precedence. A trade show booth, of course, plays a huge role in the success of your exhibit, but the well-trained representatives who staff your booth also play a critical part. Proper trade show booth etiquette enhances your company’s image and promotes your brand in a positive way.

Use these trade show etiquette rules and tips to maximize the effectiveness of your booth’s staff.

A Great First Impression

People are more likely to approach and engage with your booth if it’s staffed by people who give them a positive impression. Your booth personnel should be well-dressed, friendly, enthusiastic, and fully engaged in achieving your company goals. It also helps to present a uniformed look. Be it full business attire or same-color polo shirts with your brand’s logo, make sure that attendees know who in the booth is there to serve them and answer questions. Name tags are a must. No eating or drinking while working the booth is a good rule of thumb.

Conversation Starters

Pre-show training should include a well-rehearsed script that includes greeting visitors quickly followed by an introduction and a brief overview of the product or service your company’s presenting. If employees practice this opening beforehand, it will seem natural, not canned, the day of the show. If a guest appears interested, they should move on to specific pre-planned questions that help determine if the visitor is a strong prospect.

People who attend trade shows do so for a reason. Asking about that reason is a great conversation starter. Open ended questions allow visitors to reveal more about who they are and what problems they face. Avoid too many questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no.” Try these sample questions to get the conversation rolling:

  • What do you know about our company/product/service?
  • Are you looking for a (fill in the blank with your product) today?
  • Would you like to see a demo?

You can also break the ice with questions like “How are you enjoying the show so far?” and “Are you a local or did you travel in for the show?” Anything that helps make a real connection will be more successful than a sales pitch.

Best Practices: Dos and Don’ts

When an attendee approaches your booth, something drew them to it – your display, the theme, etc. Once they enter it, though, it’s the staff who determines whether they stay or go. Staff should keep these body language dos and don’ts in mind for portraying an approachable and professional demeanor:

  • Do always stand up. If seats are needed, use tall stools that create eye contact.
  • Do smile at everyone – even if they’re just passing by. It may get them to turn around and come back.
  • Don’t excessively talk to each other. If attendees see staff engaged in conversation, they may keep walking.
  • Don’t fidget, lean against the booth, or surf the internet on any device.
  • Do be enthusiastic, confident, and polite.
  • Do make sure the booth area is well-maintained.

 A well-prepared trade show exhibit staff can mean the difference between an event that flourishes or flops. Studies show that the number one influence on attendee conversion is how they’re personally treated by booth staff. Attentive service leads to building the relationships that are essential to fully leveraging your trade show efforts.

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