Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Booth Staffing Tips & Training Part IV

Please know that working a trade show booth is work! Be prepared to work. An old vaudevillian would say about his work, “It’s all in the timing!” Due to the temporary nature of a trade show, time is your true competitor. Qualifying, involving prospects, and disengaging visitors in a timely fashion are the actual motions of working the booth. Honing these skills will make your work easier. The goal is for these steps to become a natural process to follow as each guest approaches the booth.


1. Your first step is to develop a lead form that helps your booth staffer ask the right quesions, but more importantly, provides your field sales personnel with all the necessary information to properly follow up and close the sale.

2. Use friendly qualifying questions — if you do not immediately qualify your guest, you are wasting your time, their time and your company's money.

3. SMART QUESTIONS: Identify needs/purpose: "what created the need?", "what would you like to achieve?" Be diplomatic when asking certain questions. If you want to know who makes the buying decision, don't ask "are you the decision maker?" This can be offensive to the guest, especially if they are not the decision maker. Instead ask "how will the purchasing decision be made at your company?"

4. Decision maker vs. buying teams: many companies send buying teams to major shows, rather than a single person. Large shows can not be canvassed by a single person, so management assigns each attendee a specific agenda.

The key to remember is that you should treat the administrative assistant the same as the senior-level executive - they may be providing upper management with the only information they will get about your company.


1. Practice active listening — listen to understand, not to reply. So many of us are listening for a need that we know we can fill, that we immediately jump in and respond, "Yes! We can help you with that. Our delivery time is only two weeks..." and then you jump into your presentation. Instead, briefly state that you can help them with that issue, and then get your guest to talk about ALL their needs, and really listen to their responses to your smart questions.

Before you respond with some canned presentation, make sure you really understand their needs. Confirm their position by rephrasing their statement, saying, "If I understand you correctly, you're saying that..." Your guest will appreciate your attentiveness to their situa¬tion and come away with a positive impression of you and your company.

Remember - 80% of your time should be spent listening to your guests!

2. Communication — towards commitment. Stay focused, know your message, and communicate quickly.

• bundle information
• talk benefits, not features
• use positive language
• keep your message focused on people, not things
• use real-world examples, not technical jargon
Whatever you do, keep your communication customer-oriented. Your guest is at the show to be catered to, to gather information, to find NEW suppliers.

3. Interactive discussions — demonstrate your product or service, or tie in with pre-show promotion/giveaways. Remember: what I hear, I forget; what I see, I remember; what I do, I understand.


Disengaging is not rude or impolite. It is the logical end to a conversation. If handled properly, it will leave the prospect with a positive feeling about you, your company, and your products and services.

1. Summarize by reviewing the benefits of your product or service as related to their needs.

2. Reach agreement on next course of action -- ask "What would you like to have happen next?" NEVER end the conversation by telling the prospect what you will do. Give them the choice in how they wish you to proceed. Be sure to write down all information needed for the plan of action, then shake hands and thank your guest for visiting your booth.

3. How do you handle the problem of unqualified visitors? Due to the temporary na¬ture of a trade show, TIME IS YOUR TRUE COMPETITOR! If you launch into a presen¬tation without qualifying your guest, you are wasting your time, their time, and your company's money!

a. Use the direct approach; I'm sorry we can't help you, but thank you for stopping by our booth." Before dismissing them, though, ask if any else in their organization might benefit from your company's products and services.

b. Sometimes the attendee becomes a "pest" instead of a "guest". Give them inex¬pensive literature, telling them "this should answer any questions." An alternative is to introduce them to a manager who may be able to more easily get rid of them.

c. For unruly or disruptive guests that should not even be at the show, immediately call show management or security.

Next…. Increase Your Quality Leads

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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