The results of recent research with exhibit houses about their exhibiting company clients revealed some interesting insights. Two points, in particular, got my attention.
1. Exhibitors value sales results more than marketing results
2. Exhibitors could improve results with more booth staff training
Since generating sales is so important, it seems obvious that booth staff training is critical to achieving results. In fact, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research estimates that 85% of the reason for a sale is the booth staff.
Start by appointing the best personnel to serve as booth staff. While they are the obvious choice, seasoned salespeople can pose challenges. Engineers are a great resource for in-depth technical inquiries. Customer service personnel have product knowledge and front line experience. Whoever you choose, should be outgoing, confident and think of themselves as hosts and passerby as guests.
Selling at a trade show is different. The available time spent with each visitor is condensed to just a few minutes. So preparation is key. Booth staff training ensures that everyone is fully briefed on the goals, expectations and techniques for working in the booth.
Work with internal and external stakeholders to outline your training program. Booth staff training often includes reviewing company standards for booth attire, booth etiquette, demos, giveaways and procedures like badge scanning. Consider incorporating a professional trainer that can offer new skills and conduct practice sessions. Make attendance mandatory.
Your trade show booth staff needs to be proactive about approaching passersby. With only a few minutes to talk, questions should be designed to “break the ice” and build rapport with visitors.
Ideally your team should use open ended questions that begin with “Who, What, Where, Why and How”. In a recent Exhibitor Magazine article entitled “The Seven Deadly Sins of Booth Staffers”, Sin 7 offers examples. Susan Brauer explains the need “to arm staff with some good open-ended conversation starters” and encourages “role play so staffers can find one or two that feel the most natural and comfortable for them.” Involve your trade show booth staff in developing and rehearsing questions.
Prompting visitors to describe why they are at the show, what problem they have, or how (un)satisfied they are with their current product or service, is just the beginning. The conversation that ensues enables your team to fully engage and qualify visitors. This is why your booth staffers also need to be good listeners. When a visitor feels you are interested in their issues they are naturally more open to learning what you have to offer for their top of mind concerns.
Trade show booth staff training doesn’t end when the conversation is over. After thanking them for their time, decide how to advise visitors of your next steps…that is, what s/he can expect to receive and when. Booth staff should remember to take a few minutes to record notes from every conversation. Your booth staff training may involve using visitor’s answers to questions to rate or rank leads for follow-up. Without follow-up you won’t get any sales results.
Ask your Account Executive at Ion Exhibits about booth staff training services and resources.