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Trade Show Booth Staff Training 101

Updated on February 12, 2016
Think Friendly and Approachable when considering who to send to man the trade show booth.
Think Friendly and Approachable when considering who to send to man the trade show booth.

Trade Show Booth Staff Training 101

Preparing for a successful trade show event will require beautifully designed displays, sales materials, appealing giveaways, interactive exhibits, product demonstrations and hundreds of other details; all of which will ride on the effectiveness and preparedness of your booth staff.

This outline will provide insight to who you should consider sending to represent your business and how to properly train them to be as effective as possible.

Friendly, Approachable and “Look at Those Teeth”!

The key to having a killer staff manning your booth is to choose people that enjoy conversing with others and that appear to be good-spirited. Rarely, if ever, will you find a trade show attendee approach the sales guy that is sitting in the corner of his booth behind his computer screen. Having people that are on their feet, smiling a lot and are extremely outgoing are what you want to have representing your brand.

Psychologically speaking, people are attracted to attractive people. A well manicured, happy and professional looking team will draw people in naturally.

Not All Sales People are Created Equal

We have all approached someone at some point in time, thinking they looked like they could be helpful and the first words out of their mouth totally changed everything we thought about them initially… and not in a good way.

Recognizing that not all sales people are created equal is an important aspect to understand when choosing your team. For example, you may have a remarkable sales woman, Jennifer, that excels in the B2B selling world, transcends her colleagues when it comes to long sales cycles, and exceeds her quotas every month. It turns out that Jennifer is also, not much of a people person, handles most of her business over the phone, and usually interacts with clients after they’ve made an initial point of contact within the company. Jennifer may be the sales rep that new clients are sent to once they register, but she may not be the best representative to draw them in at the trade show.

Consider your team members and choose the ones that love to interact with others and have the knowledge to represent your business. If you find yourself with a team full of sales people that are great at what they do, but maybe not the most approachable, a little coaching and practice will go a long way.

Setting Expectations

Before you commit to a trade show, you’re going to consider the costs and objectives. It is critical, that once the objectives are set, that your entire staff is on board and fully understands the underlying goals for the show. Preparing for a show, in many cases, can take 12 months or more! Choose your staff in the beginning stages of your prep so that they can be involved in the entire process. Including them and setting expectations will produce a far greater ROI.

Not only should the team be involved in the goals and planning, but they should also understand the importance of their responsibility of representing the business. As the trade show gets closer, you should hold a weekly meeting that covers punctuality, dress, and what they need to do to prepare for the show. Making your team feel included and responsible will encourage greater performance. The truth is, despite your aesthetically pleasing trade show exhibit, what people are going to remember about your booth, is your staff.

Encourage note taking and observation.
Encourage note taking and observation.

Encourage Your Staff to Journal

Whether your team is scouting the floor to get a feel for the competition or manning the booth, there will be plenty of opportunities to take notes on how to improve. Supply each of your staff members with a blank journal with clear instructions on the type of feedback you would like to receive from them after the show. Encourage them to actively participate throughout the show by observing things that could be implemented into your business model or ways to make future trade shows more successful.

Set the Energy Stage

Attendees feed off of the energy of your staff and there is a delicate balance to being energetic while not hovering or scaring off potential customers. Here are some helpful tips to share with your staff prior to the show. The more practice they can get in before the show, the better.

  • Lead with a Smile. A smile is your best bet to starting a conversation with someone. It isn’t threatening or obtrusive. A smile is inviting and safe for anyone passing by your booth.
  • Eye Contact. Before you start talking, make genuine eye contact. Intentions are easily felt and eye contact with a smile, breeds good intentions and steers a potential customer from their fear of being roped in by an overly excited salesperson.
  • Ask Questions. You’ll remember this from any professional selling class you’ve taken. The key to gaining new customers is to understand their concerns and then addressing them. Let them do the talking while you do the listening.
  • Pay Compliments. The first step to getting a sale is initiating conversation and most people love to be complimented. Try it out! See how many more conversations your can start by handing out compliments, rather than immediately jumping to your sales pitch.
  • Get Over Yourself. Working the booth for several days can be exhausting and you’re going to encounter thousands of people and thousands of different personalities. Some of these personalities will clash with your own. Always error on the side of being respectful. Don’t stir the pot, let the Negative Nancy’s pass through without getting the best of you.
  • Energy is Everything. You’re going to get tired and you’re going to want to watch the clock tick away the minutes until you finally get to go home. Don’t let this overcome you. If you display a lack of energy and if it is obvious you don’t want to be there, you might as well not be. The energy you have, the more people you’ll attract, the more sales you’ll make.

Encourage Having a Good Time and a Positive Attitude

Just like anything else in life, having a good attitude, always produces a more positive outcome. There will be obstacles the team will have to overcome before, during and after the show and their attitude will make all of the difference.


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