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How to Get the Conversation Started with Attendees

by Gwen Parsons 28. May 2013 18:52

All too often trade show booth staff don’t know how to engage attendees as they come down the aisle. They watch attendees walk by their trade show display, afraid to approach them because they are unsure of what to say or fear bothering them.  While some attendees will stop, what about the ones that don’t?  You're there to meet with attendees, so you need to get the conversation ball rolling.

First recognize that no one wants to interrupt trade show staff on their phone or huddled together chatting with one another.  They will think you're too busy to talk with them and continue on down the aisle.  Be present and make yourself available so visitors will feel welcome. Adopt a relaxed stance, smile and yes, by all means, step out into the aisle.

Next, you need to know what you're going to say to kick off the conversation.  "Hi there, can I help you with something?" or “Enjoying the show?” are uninspiring at best.  The most predictable response is likely to be "no thanks, I'm just looking."  End of conversation.  You need more engaging conversation starters, to get them involved immediately.

The best openers are often to offer something – a free sample, the opportunity to participate in an activity, or win a prize.  Formulate open ended questions that cannot be answered with a simply yes or no.  Think of questions that use who, what, where, when and how vs questions that use are, can, do, have, or will.  For example, "If you win the iPad we're giving away today, who would you give it to?".  Start off the conversation focusing on them, rather than the other way around.  Your opener should get them thinking, and regardless of what the answer is, it should draw them into a conversation about their needs, provide an opportunity for you to explain what you do, and determine whether you can help them.

It's important, of course, not to get discouraged.  No matter how great your openers are, not every person that walks by has a need for your product or service.  Keep in mind that if you're friendly, approachable, and have a great conversation starter, your chances for generating more leads will be greatly increased.

For more tips on successful exhibiting techniques, request a copy of our guidebook.

 

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Trade Show Tips

How to Prepare Your Trade Show Staff

by Gwen Parsons 15. May 2013 16:26

Alexander Graham Bell said “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”  So we asked Margit Weisgal – industry veteran, Certified Manager of Exhibits and past President/CEO of the Trade Show Exhibitors Association – to share her tips on how to prepare your booth staff to succeed on the show floor.

You have a kick-ass trade show display, targeted graphics, and a brilliant promotion plan to attract visitors. You’re ready for the show, right? Well, almost. Despite this, if you don’t have the right people in the booth, you may have wasted all your effort because it’s all about the people.

Your staffers are the ones who greet booth visitors, engage them, interact with them, position your product in terms of their needs and wants, collect contact info and, then, determine the follow up.

So to have a great staff, you have to have great preparation. Look at all the work you put in for your trade show display, graphics and promos. A commensurate effort should go into your people.

trade show staffing

Step by Step
Here are a six tactics you can employ to have a successful staff – and a successful trade show.

1. Explain why you exhibit.  You are immersed in trade show exhibit marketing and all its elements. But your trade show exhibit staff only does this for a few days (or maybe weeks) outside their regular jobs. They don’t really understand why you’re there and the inherent benefits. So take a little time and let them in on why this is an amazing sales and marketing medium. Here’s are some key phrases to use:

  • Trade shows accelerate the buying cycle. (Salespeople love this one.)
  • You meet with current customers to ensure you remain their preferred vendor. (Salespeople like this, too.)
  • You reach new, hidden buyers that haven’t been identified as potential customers yet and have an opportunity to educate them on why your product/service is the best choice.
  • It’s a more efficient use of their time to meet with many buyers at one location which also reduces the cost of a sale by as much as 75%.

2. Explain why you chose this show. You know the demographics of the attendees so inform the trade show staff of who will be there. Based on the pre-registration list, mention key customers and prospects by company.

3. Explain your goals. Each event is a platform to push or focus on a product/service/message. Share your strategy with the individuals who will be manning the booth and serve as your experts

4. Explain your promotional plan. Since these strategies will drive traffic to your trade show display, you’ll want them to know what’s going on in the background and bringing all the visitors to your space.

5. Explain the layout. Inform your staff how to guide visitors to right areas in your trade show booth – from the reception counter, to different product areas, special demonstrations, a stage – so they can get the most from the experience.

6. Explain their role: Trade show staff should qualify visitors using prepared open-ended questions. Most important, they should really, really listen. Attendees will often tell you what you need to know to sell them. If they listen, they’ll be great. And practice. Remember, they don’t do this all year round.

Anne M. Mulcahy of Xerox said, “Employees are a company's greatest asset – they're your competitive advantage. You want to make them feel that they are an integral part of the company's mission.”

You value your staff’s contribution of time, energy, time, and commitment to the company. Say ‘thank you;’ it goes a long way toward showing your appreciation.  Follow these few steps and you’ll have a great event.  See you on the show floor. Contact Margit at mbweisgal@gmail.com.

 

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Trade Show Tips

What Attendees Want From Your Trade Show Staff

by Gwen Parsons 2. May 2013 20:55

A show executive recently shared with me that one of the biggest issues expressed by attendees is their disappointment in the staff manning the booth.  Many shows sponsor Best of Show awards which made me wonder about the criteria judges are given to evaluate trade show staffing.  Here are the top criteria from the judging forms I reviewed and pointers for how you can meet or exceed attendee expectations on the show floor:

1.    Is there adequate staff coverage?
The simplest rule of thumb is to have 1 of trade show staff member for every 50 sq ft of unoccupied exhibit space.

2.    Does the staff observe proper booth etiquette?
Studies show that 55% of the opinions people form are based on non-verbal cues such as body language. The staff manning the booth may be judged poorly if they display improper booth etiquette such as sitting, eating, chewing gum, drinking or talking on cell phones.

3.    Are attendees actively approached or do they passively wait for attendees to come to them?
There are 3 types of attendees your staff needs to know how to approach.

  • The Really Interested - They approach in response to an invitation or interest in our products and services.
  • The Curious - They pause and look as they walk past.
  • The Don’t Want to Knows - They walk past without breaking their pace or looking at your staff, even sometimes avoiding you.

Your booth personnel need to be proactive and confident about approaching them all.  Role playing may help your staff rehearse.

4.    Does the staff use effective conversation starters?
Your best sales people have the most experience with starting conversations that make a great first impression.  They understand that the key is to formulate questions that require a more complex reply than yes or no. So have them develop opening questions for all of your trade show staff to use.

5.    Does the staff qualify visitors?
Qualification requires your trade show staff to ask open ended questions designed to understand the problem the attendee seeks to solve, their role in the purchase process and their timeframe for a decision.  Then….wait for it….LISTEN.  I know it’s a lost art but your sales team needs to exercise patience before launching into “auto pitch”.

6.    Is the staff knowledgeable about the company and its products, well informed and helpful?
If not, they have no business manning the booth. The average attendee spends 8-9 hours on the show floor over a 3 day show.  Therefore, attendees are more focused, better prepared and time-driven. 

nomadic booth staffing

According to a research report by CEIR (Center for Exhibition Industry Research)  “Exhibition Staff Practice Summaries” attendees place the highest importance on product knowledge and a willingness to provide information.  Attendees indicated they want to speak to the right person citing technical experts and those equipped to drive enhancements or changes.

People remember people - their appearance, behavior,  knowledge and attitudes, before they remember the company name.  CEIR estimates that 85% of the reason for a sale is the trade show staff. 

What suggestions do you have for improving trade show staffing?

 

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Trade Show Tips

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