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How To Cast Away Common Trade Show Spells

by Kat Shea 31. August 2011 18:55

Susan Friedman, the Trade Show Coach, is our featured guest blogger.  She's an industry think tank, author and trainer. Susan helps companies worldwide get the most out of attending trade shows and industry events.  The Trade Show Coach is known in the industry for designing and implementing strategies for show organizers and exhibitors who want to retain and grow their customer base. Enjoy the read!

Have you ever thought that approaching a trade show is like exploring for hidden treasures? You delve into the marketplace and identify key  prospects to form strong business relationships that have the potential to develop into bountiful sales opportunities. This is the prize every exhibitor looks to uncover.  But beware of the deep, dark danger that threatens your trade show booth staff.  Your normally competent, cheerful exhibit staff may be transformed into frightening creatures afflicted by any one of these four his curses:

The Know It All

The “Know It All” is the most common, especially in your sales force.  Individuals affected by this spell lose their ability to listen.  It’s easy to identify the “Know It All".  They’re compelled to talk NON STOP.  These staffers devote much of their time to booth attendees, showing off how smart they are.  They’ll tell visitors more than they ever wanted to know about the company, products and services, leaving little need for essential post show follow up.  If you notice your valued audience glazing over and making desperate attempts to escape, you have a "Know It All" on your booth staff.

The Cure
Impress on him/her the importance of making visitors feel comfortable and relaxed.  Overloading attendees with random information will only make them feel overwhelmed and reluctant to come back. Trade show booth staff should be helping prospects solve their top challenges. Make sure your booth staff knows the golden rule - - to listen to your prospect 80% of the time and spend the other 20% asking open ended questions to unveil THEIR latest pain points and challenges . Exhibit staff should use attendee responses to questions to guide their sales pitch.

The Flirt

The “Flirt” curse is a powerful one that can transform even timid individuals into wild and crazy guys or gals.  Little attention is paid to the business of trade show exhibiting. Instead, victims of the "Flirt” curse devote themselves to approaching good-looking individuals in an effort to find romance. They believe that their attentions are welcome, and that no one notices their innocent behavior.  Neither is necessarily true. While "Flirts" may be extremely charismatic and engaging, attendees may feel uncomfortable which could result in an “unprofessional” perception of your brand and company.

The Cure
You can help stop their suffering.  Emphasize the importance of professionalism and their responsibility as a brand ambassador that represents your company.  Remind them of your company's behavior policy which should also be published in their booth staff handbook.

The Party Animal

The “Party Animal" is easy to spot.  Look for bloodshot eyes, fatigue, headache pain, slow pace, sweating, thirst....all evidence of a hangover.  Trade shows cultivate the “Party Animal” curse. Far from home, temptation to indulge in the nightlife is strong. This indulgence can have huge consequences.  “Party Animals” can suffer from impaired judgment. They might make a little comment that they consider harmless while out partying, that could have huge ramifications for your business. “Loose lips sink ships” as the old saying goes!.  They may be ill prepared to identify and fend off the competitors gathering intelligence. And finally, feeling poorly often translates into lackluster booth staff performance at the trade show.

The Cure
It's unfair for booth staff to let themselves, their peers or the company down.  So point out to the "Party Animal" that your booth is the shop window of your business at a trade show.  In fact, meet with your team prior to the opening of the show each day and be very clear about what is acceptable (on and off of the show floor) and what the consequences will be if the guidelines expressed are not followed. Keep everyone focused on their goal of leads to collect. Offer a small incentive to the person who collects the most qualified leads.

The Rat

The most difficult to identify and combat, is the curse of the "Rat”.  The "Rat” is not happy with your company.  He or she is ready to jump ship, to find employment somewhere else, and is more than happy to do their job search on the company's dime.  After all, they're in a location where the major players in your industry gather.  What better place to network and attempt to find a new position with one of your competitors?  “Rats” may be eager to provide competitors with intelligence information about your organization. 

The Cure
If you spot a "Rat" on your team, limit your exposure by limiting their interactions.  Assign them to cover a different attendee badge color. Or keep them occupied with logistical tasks such as scanning badges, stocking literature and event giveaways.

Protect your company and staff.  Selecting booth staffers is important to driving business development and brand recognition.  But appointing them is only the first step.  Make booth staff training a priority in your pre-show planning.  Remember, booth staffers are your dedicated brand ambassadors and if they start showing any of the above characteristics you risk your brand being tarnished based on your staffers behavior.  Training, clear communication of goals, objectives, and expectations, and an element of accountability can help minimize, or even eliminate the most pervasive tradeshow curses!

Written by Susan A. Friedmann,CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, internationally recognized expert working with companies to increase their profitability at tradeshows.
Author: “Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a small Market” and “Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies.”

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