When planning for an exhibition it’s easy to get bogged down with designing and constructing your booth and exhibition displays, completely overlooking the selection and training of suitable staff. According to Rob Hard , a highly experienced Event Manager, this is a big mistake since “staff presence and demeanour can make or break prospective business.” Jules Sowder has been an Executive Marketing Advisor for 20 years concurs with this in referring to exhibition staff as the “lifeblood of your exhibit strategy.”
If it’s that important to have the right team headlining your tradeshow presence, how can you ensure you choose the best staff to represent your business?
It’s basically down to the event overseer or campaign manager who has the unenviable task of choosing the best team.
WHO SHOULD I SELECT?
Not everyone is a people person. There are staff members who work well in a team. There are others who are great at sifting out prospective customers or finding new networking opportunities. And there are others who enjoy clinching the deal. Within your employee base there is a vast pool of experience and expertise but choosing the right individuals for the job can prove challenging. Choosing the right team, your Dream Team, will ensure campaign success, a ROI and strengthen your brand.
As with any team there are strengths and weaknesses that need to be balanced out according to individually assigned roles, but as a general rule of thumb the best staff for the purpose of exhibition marketing will need skills, knowledge and personality. An ideal candidate should have:
- Previous experience in Trade Shows
- Training in one to one sales
- Industry expertise and technical know-how
- A smart and professional appearance
- Competence and proficiency
- Good health and stamina as Trade Shows are physically demanding!
What roles and responsibilities make up the exhibition team?
Whilst there are several individual roles required to ensure your Trade Show experience is a success, emphasis should always be on all staff performing and bonding as a team; team players need only apply.
THE HOSTS (Brand Ambassadors)
These individuals are the welcoming committee for any visitors coming to your booth. They are friendly, approachable and smiley. They enjoy being organised and thorough and take delight in the more mundane yet absolutely necessary procedures that operate behind the scenes. These ones will love to initiate conversation, register interest and distribute promotional material. They will epitomise the very essence of your brand and personify your business objectives. Equipped with effective interpersonal skills they can identify the needs of the client and quickly discern their depth of interest, sifting them accordingly. These staff members are the front runners of your team and will have the personality to suit your company image. They are the ‘face’ of your trade show presence.
As the ‘mouthpiece’ of your business these individuals love to talk. They are completely at home when speaking publicly, giving presentations or demonstrating products. They have experience and an air of confidence. They are articulate and knowledgeable and they understand your product or service well. These ones will keep your visitors engaged, entertained and remaining at your stand whilst other members interact with prospective clients. Their objective is to educate, stimulate and inculcate, to leave the audience with a positive perception of your brand.
THE CROWD GATHERERS
The crowd pleasers and prospectors of your team, these staff members are fun, entertaining and never take themselves seriously. They are also strategically well informed and speak confidently and positively about your brand. These ones are happy to scope the area for prospective clients or ‘anyone who looks game’ and draw them to your booth to partake of games, technical gadgets or other offerings provided. They are gently persuasive, not bullying and will have an appealing manner to encourage and reassure ones they meet. Their appearance is always eye catching, smart and they will be happy to don fancy dress for the occasion.
LEAD GATHERERS AND SALES STAFF
These guys are the hub of your exhibition team. Experts at pitching your products or services and qualifying attendees to the booth, they are calm, collected and knowledgeable. Often these ones are long-term, experienced staff who love their job and are loyal to the end. Whilst they have learned the art of persuasion they will never do this in a brash and heavy-handed manner and are also good listeners to gain an accurate understanding of each customers’ needs. He or she will then align these needs with what your brand has to offer and seek to seal an agreement where possible.
Remember to provide adequate staffing based on the sales area you have reserved; enough to cover breaks but not too many so as to overcrowd your booth. Extra help will be needed to erect and dismantle the set so arrange for additional staff to assist and make clear the hours staff will be expected to work so as to have all-hands-on deck at the close of the show.
Once the Events Manager has chosen the appropriate personnel the team need to be briefed on exhibition etiquette and given comprehensive training on how they should interact with prospective clients.
What is ‘Exhibition Etiquette?’
These are the rules of the event which need to be followed by all in attendance to make a good impression on spectators. Each show will provide details of these rules in the information pack and outline what is expected of exhibitors as to dress code, keeping the exhibition booth tidy, following the event schedule and the restriction of staff eating and drinking in the sales area. The Professional attitude and courteous conduct of staff reflect well on your business and can be achieved by preparing them well in advance of the show.
What training do staff need prior to the trade show?
How to meet and greet visitors.
If your stand is eye catching and the ‘crowd gatherers’ have done their work, there should be a steady flow of visitors to your booth. These should always be greeted with a smile and open body language. The staff member approaching them needs to be standing at the front of the booth to maintain eye contact and should only sit if the customer wants to. Arms and legs should be left uncrossed and hands kept out of pockets. The dialogue should be enthusiastic, confident and polite; it’s always a nice touch to thank someone for coming to your booth either at the beginning or end of the conversation.
What to say to the client.
To maintain uniformity of thought and harmony in relaying product or service details it’s useful to hand out a sales script to each of the staff. Any important information such as company history, show objectives and product USPs can be summarised so there is always something to refer to if they need it. This also ensures that each member of the team knows what’s expected of them in terms of who they are looking for and what to say. If they are well prepared to answer basic questions or at least know where to go to get answers to the more difficult ones, this will help them to relax and feel part of something bigger, thus boosting motivation and enhancing salesmanship. A supervisor or manager should always be on hand to assist staff with advice as well as information.
Prior to the show schedule a meeting to ensure that all staff are aware of the location of the event and its timings and where your company booth is situated. This also provides an opportunity for last minute questions and to ensure that all team members know where they will be positioned. Show them the layout of your display, highlight any show rules and indicate where the promotional material will be stored.
Give them the heads up!
At the start of the session alert staff to personal break times and opportunities to wander around the show and inform them of any networking opportunities organised by sponsors or affiliates. Make them aware of any after show parties or staff gatherings.
A well-chosen and well-prepared team is an asset to any business seeking to maximise presence at an event or show, described by Steffan Ploeger as “A prepared team of frontline ambassadors.”