(Hint: It’s all about the staffers.)
It’s so easy to make purchases online that an agoraphobic person never has to leave the house. So, why do buyers continue to attend trade shows by the tens of millions? People! They want to meet you face to face, to learn about your product / service in person. For this reason, you want as near-perfect booth staffers as humanly possible. The right people for the job! Keep these nine missteps in mind and you just might achieve your goals.
Trust Issue 1. Your staffers ignore attendees
It’s hard to believe, but attendees walk into many booths and are ignored by booth staffers. This behavior exasperates attendees, who (perhaps rightly) assume that if this is how they are treated at the show, this is how they will be treated as your customer. You will likely never redeem your company in their eyes.
Attendees can’t make a personal connection if your booth staffer doesn’t seem interested enough to smile or look them in the eye. We’re not talking about staring people down. Booth staffers simply have to demonstrate that they are paying attention to your visitors, that they are welcome in the booth and welcome to ask questions.
Trust Issue 3. Your staffers don’t listen
Many booth staffers just mechanically spew your company’s talking points, rather than listening to what each visitor is trying to achieve at the show. Visitors can’t relate with people like this and, even if they politely listen for a moment, they forget all about your company as soon as they walk away. (And they will probably go straight to your competition!) Attendees want a dialogue, not a monologue.
Thanks to the internet, today’s trade show attendees are better informed than ever before. If your booth staffers lack the product and industry knowledge to competently answer questions and converse about your products, attendees will take their business to someone who truly knows his stuff. Hence, the importance of training the booth staff.
An assertive, friendly, knowledgeable booth staffer will create more genuine opportunity with buyers than a “booth babe.” These models-for-hire intimidate some men, will put off senior decision makers (who don’t want to look like they’re hitting on women), and repel women who are offended by them. And the worst part is they don’t know your company, products, value proposition, industry, etc. If you do not have enough capable booth staffers among your employees, it’s time to train them up.
Trust Issue 6. Staffers turn on the hard sell
There’s a reason they call it a conference and not a sales pitch gathering. People are there to confer with you about your product / service. And you are there to learn about their needs so you can pursue deeper interaction with the qualified leads. Again, it goes back to knowing your product and listening to the attendee.
Some people are simply genuine, while others seem “on” all the time. When booth staffers are “on” like this, they can be off-putting to attendees because they come across as fake or phony. The show floor is a hullabaloo of activity, and the attendees can quickly develop sensory overload. So, if you’re too over-the-top, they may just want to get away from you.
Trust Issue 8. Your staffers don’t want to be there
Companies need to understand that some people are simply not cut out for working the booth. For some people, trade shows are a regular part of their responsibilities. For others, it’s a painful chore. If a booth staffer is in that latter category, negativity will come across no matter how they try to bury their feelings. Staff your booth with people who want to be there, train them properly, and give them support and encouragement.
Trust Issue 9. Bad first impression
Even before engaging with your staff, attendees quickly judge your company by your display. Is it clean with eye-catching graphics? Does it communicate how you can help them solve their problems? Does it show that you are a good company to work with? Or does it send conflicting messages, and look like it needs a repairman (or garbage man!)? Your displays will affect how attendees interact with your booth staff.
Trust is heavily dependent on the people factor. If attendees trust that you can provide something they value and need, then they will reward you with their business and their praise. Make sure your trade show booth staff and your trade show exhibit will help earn–not spurn–that trust!
How do you cultivate trust with show attendees?
What are YOUR thoughts on all this? We’d like to hear your comments!
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