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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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