Trade show attendance is still not where it was pre-pandemic, and so the desire for engagement at exhibitions is at an all-time high. Despite this, booth staff is still falling into the same traps:
- asking the wrong questions (or none at all!)
- wasting time with low-quality conversations
- having closed off body language
- arriving late to their own booths
- having poor follow-up processes.
In this blog, we will dive into the importance of hiring the correct booth staff and how they can make a difference in the effectiveness of your trade show.
Why is it important to select the right booth staff?
We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve met someone for the first time, and something that they said or did leave a bitter taste in our mouth. No amount of mouthwash can seem to get rid of it, right?
This can be the same with your booth staff. They are responsible for first impressions – so how does this reflect on your brand?
Your booth staff gives attendees an initial impression of your business and will be the basis of the opinions of the prospects they interact with on the form.
In fact, often it can go beyond this. Whilst we all like to pretend that we don’t judge a book by its cover, our brains are wired to make assumptions from certain signals. For example, if your team is standing around, ignoring their customers, or having a face on them, you’re not going to be compelled to talk to them and you may even consider them lazy, bored, and disengaging. Impressions often start well before the interaction.
But why does it matter so much?
According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 85% of your exhibition’s success depends on your booth staff, so it makes sense to ensure that you select your team carefully. After all, if you are spending all that money ‘jazzing up’ your booth, then you should make sure that it is matched by the quality of your staff.
Whether or not you have a product that an attendee needs, they will likely still base their buying decisions on their impression of your staff, and the conclusions this has helped them draw about your organisation.
It’s important your booth staff don’t display any behaviours that would have prospects reluctant to do business with you; instead, you want them to be delighted and impressed by the customer service, experience, and how your team made them feel. After all, at the end of the day, people buy from people.
What personal qualities would you look for?
Before even beginning to consider which personal qualities to look for in your booth staff, it’s important to think about the key tasks and roles that you want people to carry out at your trade show.
Once these main roles have been established, you can think about the traits that would be needed by each team member to deliver a successful event.
Despite each team member having different desired characteristics, there are undoubtedly many shared attributes that all booth staff should have, and things that they should do. These include:
- Being engaging and bringing a good energy
- Asking the right questions
- Staying motivated and portraying confidence
- Being welcoming and friendly with open body language and a smile
- Having the resilience to continue or adapt
- Presenting themselves well to reflect your brand
Whilst the above may seem obvious to many, it is important to drill down on these traits and engrain them into all interactions. You may have your best salesperson on the floor, but that doesn’t mean they are the best person for the job.
Further down we explore the characteristics specific to individual booth staff roles.
Why is it important to know your target audience?
Know your audience. It’s a tale as old as time. Yet people still fail to acknowledge it or fail to acknowledge it properly at least.
Too many times you see an attendee approach a booth, just for them to be instantly hit by a 15-minute sales pitch about something they didn’t care about knowing. They then leave feeling not heard, confused, irritated, and likely, quite bored. They’re probably thinking, “What makes them think I want their product?”
By not asking the correct questions, or getting to know the pain points, challenges, goals, and aspirations of your audience, you have failed to build a relationship and not understood why the attendee is there in the first place.
Knowing your target audience helps you to put an engagement programme together that is relevant to them, and if it is relevant to them, you will attract more people to your booth. More people to your booth means a higher likelihood of leads. A higher likelihood of leads means, yep, you guessed it, more sales.
That makes sense, right?
What are the key job roles in the booth and how do they differentiate?
In a booth, everyone has a role. This is typically split into four main roles:
- The greeter
- The product expert
- The presenter
- The team manager
Each of them requires a different skill set, different levels of knowledge, different position responsibilities, and will bring different things to the team.
For a greeter, it is important to find an individual who is great at talking to people, and hopefully, who enjoys it as well! Not only this but a certain level of resilience is needed to deal with rejection that naturally comes in such an environment.
A product expert needs to be exactly that. They should be able to demonstrate your product or service well, knowing its features inside and out. Their role is vital, especially since not being able to speak to someone who knows the product like the back of their hand is one of the biggest issues of trade show attendees.
Presenters must be engaging. To be able to command an audience and keep their attention is key, so find someone who oozes confidence, and has the ability to deliver a presentation that is succinct and exciting.
Finally, the team manager should be someone who can bring everyone together, hold people accountable, ensure everyone is aware of their positions, and makes the whole process tick over smoothly. So, a team member with strong organisational skills, the ability to delegate, empathy, and who realises the importance of communication is key here.
Something that should be a constant, however, is that all team members must be engaging, injecting energy into every interaction. This should be shown from the moment of the original interaction with the attendee, right through to the follow-up and beyond.
Where do I go from here?
Hopefully, this has opened your eyes up to the importance of hiring the best booth staff in ensuring the success of your trade show.