Thursday, July 15, 2010

Booth Staffing Tips & Training Part II


Continuing our “Boothology” discussion, we look now at some rules of etiquette for booth staffers to follow as they are working in the booth. Most of these may appear to be common sense items that everyone knows and practices. That’s what you would think! Please, don’t count on it. Here’s the challenge: Next time you’re at show, check out exhibitors and especially your own booth team and see if these “booth etiquette” rules are used or abused.

Over the years, I’ve seen some real slouches on the show floor. Many have been manning booths at trade shows most of their careers. I guess “old habits are hard to break” especially for the “old dogs” that are the “experienced” booth workers. Sad to say, they are the culprits that are training the company’s next generation of booth staffers. Many of these bad booth manners are perceived by new employees as the company’s “exhibit hall culture” simply by example. Without training, or direction from upper management to follow good booth etiquette, history repeats itself.

The real challenge is to “teach old dogs new tricks.” Believe me, I know, that’s easier said than done! Without a doubt, there will be NO change unless the rules of good Boothology are not presented. That’s the first step! Remember what we said in Part I? “Fifty-six percent of a prospect's impression about your company's exhibit is based upon the booth personnel's attitude and behavior!” Again, good booth staffer etiquette impacts the ROI for the show, thus a direct impact to the company yearly sales goals.

Our staff at ShaBang Exhibits reminds our clients (especially those that are event and trade show managers)of the importance of getting these rules ingrained in the minds of booth staffers with total support and direction from upper management:

1. Avoid smoking or eating in the exhibit, refrain from leaning on counters or sitting in the booth, do not block the booth entrance, avoid crossing arms, and try to have something in your hands to avoid gesture problems.

2. Eliminate "pitch posture" -- this is the bad habit of standing on the edge of your booth or behind a podium, looking as if you are ready to pounce on every passerby with your presentation. Avoid this by not standing behind tables or counters; rather, stand to the side and don't face directly into the exhibit aisle.

3. SMILE, SMILE, SMILE!!! It's human nature -- you can diffuse uneasy or tense situations with a simple smile.

4. Avoid "radar vision", i.e. scanning the aisles for name badges, and looking at the name badge before greeting the person. This makes the attendee fee! as if you're sizing them up to determine if they are with the right company or at the proper level of seniority to be worth your time.

5. Avoid clustering with other members of your staff — people don't like to approach booth reps who are engaged in conversations.

6. And two new problems to avoid these days — don't use your laptop in full view of the attendees unless it's to do a demonstration for them; and don't talk on your cell phone in the booth. We realize that you must take certain important calls, but always take them outside your booth space, and NEVER interrupt your conversation with a prospect by an¬swering your phone.

Salespeople often feel that training isn't necessary — "we know how to sell!" they say. But what they need to realize is that show selling is very different from the traditional face-to-face sales call. In the field, prospects are pre-qualified and salespeople often know their agenda before calling on them. There is time for getting to know the prospect, finding common interests and learning a great deal of valuable information about the company.

At a trade show, you must immediately qualify a prospect you may never have heard of, much less know their agenda, then commit to a plan of action and disengage in order to greet the next attendee. You will meet several of these new people AN HOUR, not several a week as in traditional selling.

The physical demands of trade show selling provide a host of new challenges as well. A full day of meetings, show hours and hospitality events can easily mean 16 to 18 hour days! Most of this time is spent standing! Contrast this to a typical 8 to 12 hour day for a hard¬working salesperson, and rarely is all of this time spent standing and talking.

NEXT…Approaching an Attendee / Prospect

PS Large and small companies are finding the Shabang Exhibits website a good resource for information in planning a successful trade show. Check out the Trade Show Tips at:

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