3 Things Your Trade Show Booth Staff Might Not Do – And Why They Should

One day, in the future, trade show booths will be staffed by robots – highly intelligent, intricately designed automatons that know just the right thing to say in every situation for every potential customer, delivering responses that are guaranteed to snag a sale and get a solid lead.

These robots will be perfect- with the perfect look, the perfect smile, and the perfect words. Using these robots will eliminate 100% of the uncertainty and inefficiency most trade show booth owners have with staffing their booths – because we all know that using your employees as meeting-and-greeting lead qualifiers and prospectors is a disaster waiting to happen most of the time.

It will be a marvelous day for the trade show exhibition.

…Unfortunately, that day is probably 200 years in the future.

I don’t know about you, but I probably won’t be around in 200 years. My concern today is to help you have the best trade show staffing today – and that means pointing out three things your current staff probably doesn’t do and why they should start.

Behavior #1: Ask the Right Questions

The average trade show attendee spends just 15 seconds per booth on average throughout their stay. That makes sense; each show has dozens, if not hundreds, and potentially even thousands of exhibits, and there are only so many hours in the day.

For that reason, your staff has to know how to ask the right questions to quickly and effectively qualify these leads and either hook the attention of the customer you want to keep (someone who is actually interested) or politely dismiss them and move on.

Unfortunately, you have to have specific training in fast-paced, seat-of-your-pants lead qualification and prospecting by asking the right questions, and chances are, your employees don’t. It’s not Bob’s fault; he’s a technical guy, not a professional trade show staffer.  And Jim is a great field salesperson but spending 30 minutes talking to one guy about his golf score is a waste of valuable time.

The right questions include queries like:

–        “What is one thing you want to take away from your stay at this show?”

–        “What big projects does your company have on its horizon?”

–        “What are your experiences with [insert your industry here]?”

These are all open-ended and can gather some pretty revealing information.

Behavior #2: Be Proactive

This is a big one. What happens when Mr. Jones walks by your booth, you exchange a few pleasantries, and then he continues down the hallway?

Do you follow up the initial contact with qualification and prospecting techniques? Or does your staff smile, shift nervously a bit, and then look to the next guy in walking by?

You’d be surprised how often this happens. Don’t be afraid to engage a customer beyond just the typical “Hey how are ya how ya doin’” conversations. If he or she doesn’t want to talk, they’ll let you know. Just remember: they’re at a trade show. They are there for something.

Maybe you have what they’re looking for.

Behavior #3: Get ALL Their Information

So, let’s say your people have had decent success at establishing contact, asking good questions, and having good conversations.

What next? Well, for most people, you’ll get a business card and then move on. Maybe you won’t go that far and you’ll just get a number or email address.

What you really need to do is have your staffers solicit the prospect for as much contact info as possible. You don’t need their home address, blood type, and Swiss bank account number (although if you get that last one, make sure you get the PIN too; otherwise it’s a big pain withdrawing their money). You do, however, need their email address, office number, fax number, corporate mailing address (for sales materials), and – this is a big one – social media information.

Are they on LinkedIn or Facebook? Do they use Twitter? If you can get them to follow your company on any of these platforms, right then and there, even better.

A well-trained, professional staff is the best way to have success at a trade show, period. The people you have – and what they know how to do – is of paramount importance.  Make sure they have the right behaviors for success.