There are many things that go into making a trade show a success for your company: chief among them is developing a sound strategy before arrival, choosing the right location to set up your booth, incorporating social media into the show, and deciding on the right visual elements to bring along. As important as any one of these things are, they arguably pale in comparison to the importance of bringing the right staff to work your booth.
A veteran of attending many trade shows myself, I’ve seen a lot of different methodologies that have ended up paying dividends for those attending – everything from the use of celebrity spokesmen to flashy video presentations to product giveaways. But in all the ways I’ve seen companies succeed on the trade show floor, there’s really only one way I have seen them fail (something I’ve witnessed far too often): and it all comes from having the wrong team in place to interact with prospective customers.
Know Your Audience, Then Choose Your Team
You might be tempted to select your top performers to act as your front line, and while they may end up being the right choice, it does pay to take a step back, think about who will be attending the show, and then make the determination as to who will make up your team. Top salespeople may know the features and benefits of the products, but may not have the technical knowledge that is often required by certain attendees.
Oftentimes event coordinators have a list of attendees and if asked, may make it available to you. This is particularly useful if there is a specific company you’re looking to sell to; knowing if their sending a contingent of engineers to take in the show rather than someone with buying authority may necessitate that you alter your team accordingly.
Choose Someone Who Can Change Their Pitch as Required
Something I’ve seen far too often is how quickly people volunteer to attend a show on behalf of their company (mostly because it’s a chance to get away from their desks for a few days and check out another city) but when novelty wears off and the show begins, it can be quite evident that they really don’t want to be there. This lack of enthusiasm manifests itself in one of two ways: either the associate does very little to proactively engage people entering your booth, or, they stick to the script, offering no more to the customer than what was previously discussed.
Some of the most effective team members you can consider bringing along should have the ability (and the desire to) assess the individual they are speaking to, and tweak their presentation accordingly.
Considering Hiring Temporary Staff from an Agency
Sorry guys, we’re not talking booth babes here (in fact, many associations have started to prohibit the use of nearly nude models as a ploy to drive booth traffic). Depending on what you’re looking to present and its level of complexity, temporary staff hired through a reputable agency can have a number of benefits over using your regular staff.
- These people are professional trade show presenters. They have the right combination of enthusiasm and people skills to make your booth an inviting one
- Allows your workforce to remain in the office, which will maintain productivity during the show
- Agencies are local, meaning you won’t have the additional cost of paying for their accommodations or providing a per diem for food/entertainment
Hiring temporary employees should come with a caveat however. If you decide to hire temporary presenters to staff your booth, allow for ample training time so that they can get familiar with the material that they will be speaking to customers about. Also, consider that temporary show workers can give very little in the way of recommendations, which can be frustrating to consumers.
Hire a Facilitator
A lot of times your permanent staff will do better meeting clients one on one, either in a private room made available by the convention center, or assuming you’ve got the space in your booth, in a small meeting room right on the show room floor. A facilitator is a trade show expert who acts as an intermediary between your staff and the client. They spend time talking to customers to ferret out their needs, and then proceed to direct them to the appropriate staff member.
Develop a Well-Rounded In-House Team
If your company attends trade shows on a regular basis, consider investing some time and energy into developing your own in-house team that will attend each trade show on the company’s behalf. Some of the best teams I’ve witnessed are those that have done numerous shows and are comprised of individuals from a variety of backgrounds (which consequently will allow them to service the differing needs of the audience).
The 2006 LinuxWorld trade show – Wikimedia Creative Commons
Guest Author Bio
John Berwick may be a Technical Writer by trade, but he enjoys blogging and voicing his opinion on a wide variety of topics more than anything else in the world. He has written for many different sectors including health care, software development, security, marketing, and e-commerce industries.
Visit John’s Site: John Berwick Freelance