We all know trade shows require a significant commitment of time and money. Naturally, your organization wants to get the most out of the experience. Unfortunately, too many exhibiting companies fail to set themselves up for success by failing to prepare the team manning the booth. Next time you exhibit, use these guidelines to motivate your booth staff into success.
If you don’t qualify it, it’s not a lead.
Most so-called “leads” and business cards are discarded after the show is over. The reasons for this disaster vary from having too many “leads” to properly follow up, to having too few salespeople to do said follow-ups, to the realization that the follow-ups led no place. That is to say, they were not qualified in the first place. It’s easy to gather business cards and scan badges; however, it takes effort to converse with someone to determine whether s/he is a legitimate lead.
A motivating goal for your booth staff would be to get qualified leads, not just leads. And there’s no harm in a friendly contest either! You, however, must set the criteria for “qualified,” such as agreeing to meet again, requesting a price quote, expressing interest in a facility tour or product demo – anything that demonstrates higher commitment. Plus, make sure the prize is worth their efforts.
Be crystal clear on the team rules while at the booth.
First ban the following from the booth: cell phones, food, beverages other than water, tablets/laptops that are not used for showing demos/presentations to clients, and anything that will distract your staffers from their goals. You must also ban unproductive behavior: booth staffers standing in groups talking to one another, staffers blocking the booth entrance, staffers sitting, yawning, etc. Be clear on the do’s and don’ts. Get your entire team on board before the show. Rule breakers could be punished by being the last one to go on break (for example).
Motivate your people with a mock awards dinner after the show is over. Get together over pizza and award staffers with the most qualified leads, the friendliest greeting, the most creative approach, etc. (You can even give razzies to staffers habitually breaking the rules.) Then go into your postmortem of the expo to assign follow-ups and next actions.
Give staffers the tools they need to achieve goals.
Trade shows are a unique selling experience and are not to be approached as one would a cold call, email or press release. You must make your staff comfortable with approaching people (essentially strangers). The reason you sent people to the show is to have direct contact with a room full of targeted prospects and potential leads. Each person on your staff has to maintain face-to-face interaction all day for the duration of the expo. Either you or a trainer must practice the points you want them to cover with booth visitors. Make sure your people know your brand, your value proposition, your message, your position in the marketplace. If they are confident in their knowledge, they will have no problem talking with strangers.
Motivate them by holding workshops leading up to the show. Invite them air concerns and ask questions. Let them share ideas. Knowing that you’re listening goes a long way with any employee.
Toot their horns.
When the last attendee has left, be certain to say thank you to your staff members. This is the simplest way to let a person know his/her efforts are appreciated. After you get back to the office, brag about how well your team did. Along with any positive mention about the show, or lead being taken to the next level, tell the world which team members had a part in making it happen. Sharing the credit makes everyone look good and fosters a sense of camaraderie.
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