The success of a company’s trade show presence is supported through its on-site show floor staff. This is no small feat. Floor teams represent a company’s voice, posture, heart, mind and of course, product or service. It’s a role that should be taken seriously as these are the individuals who bring in leads, increase the company’s ROI, and showcase the overall brand experience at an event. Once you have your staff selected, it’s important to always communicate the practical elements of managing a booth, no matter how perfect they may seem for the show floor. Communicating proper show etiquette and mistakes to avoid will go a long way to ensuring your staff feels prepared. Here are a few important tips for your team to remember at your next event.
Anticipate unexpected questions
The question isn’t if trade show staff will be asked unexpected questions - it’s when. If unprepared, these questions can easily blindside an employee and hinder a smooth sale. To prevent this from happening, staff should stay up-to-date on the industry and dig deep to find if there’s anything going on in the present culture of the industry that could prompt new questions. Be on-point with any disruptions or negativity taking place in the industry or company. For example, has there been a recall? Has the industry taken a hit in recent quarters, months, or years? Is sustainability a topic within your industry? As a show floor staffer, it’s important to anticipate all the questions and work as a team to expect comments that are outside the normal bell curve of questions.
Before the event, talk through these unexpected inquiries as a team and develop messages to support each. After each day of the event, debrief together and discuss any unusual or particularly difficult questions that came up and forge out answers.
Ask good questions
The best opening line is an open-ended question. It’s easy to reflex with questions like “can I help you?” but the most fruitful conversations stem from questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Before the trade show starts, encourage your team to develop a list of strong openers and use a different one for each engagement. We always recommend starting with a conversation, not a sales pitch. People are pitched all day long at a trade show – make your exhibit one where it’s not just about the sale but a memorable conversation.
Maintain eye contact
It’s something many of us do without thinking about it, but when presenting a product or explaining a service, be sure to keep eye contact with the customer. We don’t maintain eye contact for the sake of it; we do it because it helps us understand the person we’re speaking to. By making eye contact a priority, you’ll be able to read the person better and understand if they are truly interested and if you should continue to take them through the sales funnel or if they’re ready to keep moving throughout the show floor.
Eat or drink in the exhibit
Eating and drinking in your company’s exhibit send an unprofessional message to your customers [unless of course, the event is the Sweets and Snacks Expo, Fancy Food Show or something of the like]. We realize everyone needs to eat, but at a trade show booth, it presents an awkwardness and unprofessionalism that will deter potential leads.
Thankfully, most exhibit halls have an area for exhibitors to eat and take a break. We highly recommend networking in these break rooms. These rooms are often filled with media, potential partners for your brand and sometimes even clients. When you take your break, be sure to connect with those around you, it’s an opportunity waiting at hand that you don’t want to miss.
Don’t trash talk the competition
Trade shows are intense environments that bring all the industry competition into one room for a concentrated amount of time. Every company is fighting for leads and is making deliberate efforts for their brand to stand out. As a staffer, you’re likely to get questions about how the company you represent holds up to other brands in the room. As a rule of thumb, keep competitor names and language out of your exhibit space completely. Refrain from all negativity regarding another brand and allow the silence to reveal your professionalism and the overall company character.
Likewise, savor every minute with a potential client by keeping it about your brand and your unique selling propositions. Don’t waste precious seconds discussing another company or product - use it all as a time to generate interest in what your brand offers. If you are in a bind where a potential client says, “tell me about the competitor over there and their product compared to yours?” again, talk about your brand and the differentiators you offer, not the issues they have with theirs.
We hope these tips were helpful to you, feel free to share this article with your team to ensure a smoother trade show floor execution.