According to research, 85% of an exhibitor’s success hinges on the performance of its booth staff. 80% of what attendees remember most about a trade show presence is their interaction with the company’s representatives.
Face-to-face engagement with your trade show staff is critical to get right. Making an excellent first impression, building rapport and developing trust is an exercise in marketing –not sales.
Here we explore why you should leave your sales team at home at your next trade show.
Engage First, Sell Later
Trade shows are popular with attendees because they offer one of the few opportunities to communicate in person. They are a successful tactic in your marketing strategy but should not be your only one.
It’s a common understanding among marketing experts that customers need to be exposed to your brand anywhere between three to 12 times before they make a purchase. These ‘touches’ vary depending on criteria such as the type of product or service you are selling, the price point and the time of year. Each marketing contact needs to add value, build familiarity and trust, therefore, decreasing the time and effort required for each sale. Touches can include seeing your advertising, reading third party reviews, visiting your website, following social media channels or hearing a recommendation via word of mouth.
Trade shows are just one of those touchpoints. Attempting to push a sale at a lead’s first contact with your brand at an exhibition, or when they are not at the relevant stage of the buyer’s journey can be detrimental.
The goal of your exhibiting staff should be to make the first contact, qualify the lead and then pass it on to a salesperson to close the deal after the event has ended. A hard sell is off-putting and might not create the best first impression.
Keep Your Sales Team in the Field
Key tasks and visitor engagement can be managed and executed by experienced event professionals supported by product specialists and marketing team members. There is no reason to take your sales team out of the field.
Calculate the cost of taking your sales team out of action for the duration of the trade show versus what they might realistically achieve in terms of trade show leads. It might be more cost efficient to keep your sales team selling and bring in experienced staff that will filter and qualify leads that can be handed to salespeople after the show.
Qualify Visitors for Quality Sales Leads
Delegating your lead generation and guest interaction to professional individuals means your sales team wastes no time speaking to people who aren’t ever going to buy. They can focus their attention on converting quality leads outside of the exhibition activity.
Talented booth staff are experienced in the ‘catch and release’ method. They gracefully and skillfully engage, qualify and, if not applicable, let go. Hundreds of stand visitors can be scanned in this way to filter down to the most significant leads for your sales department.
Developing a strategy for gathering extensive information to pass on to the sales team to follow up with later will not only boost your trade show lead generation and sales but also help improve your marketing efforts.
Data can be captured by badge scanners, forms on iPads or other devices, lead cards that booth staff complete on a visitor’s behalf, or simply by collecting business cards.
The data gathered could include job function, industry, location, current supplier as well as contact preferences and social media channels. There are also opportunities to automatically connect this data collection to existing CRM systems.
Expo Stars has recently partnered with VivoLead, a tradeshow lead capture and ROI Measurement software service provider for exhibitors. An innovative solution that minimises admin, saves time and effectively systemises data collection.
The Right People for the Right Tasks
Approaching strangers who are passing your stand can feel awkward. And the idea of drawing a crowd to a product presentation with a microphone and loudspeaker might bring you out in a cold sweat. Experienced booth staff matched to the type of engagement required will ensure that salespeople who are highly effective in one area are not forced into uncomfortable situations.
There are numerous tasks that booth staff need to fulfil, and for these, it’s critical to get the appropriate mix of people. Outsourcing the staffing of your stand can boost trade show leads. Experienced trade show personnel are experts in the following:
- making eye contact
- displaying welcoming body language
- reading visitor facial expressions
- knowing what questions to ask to start a conversation
- positioning themselves on the stand in the best place
- utilising tried and tested methods to ‘work the aisle’
- qualifying and feeding leads to others on the stand, for example, product experts
- exuding just the right amount of warmth and persuasion skills
- encouraging visitors to give up personal information
- circulating amongst groups effortlessly
- keeping a positive attitude
Different kinds of exhibits require different people. For example, booth hosts/hostesses, brand ambassadors, spokesmodels, narrators, presenters, emcees, lead generators, sales staff, crowd gatherers and interpreters/translators.
Managing Staff on the Day
Manning stands can be exhausting and team members will need to be managed effectively to maintain motivation and to keep up a high standard of visitor engagement.
Hiring a professional booth team with a designated leader will ensure that staff are performing at their optimal levels throughout the day and for the duration of the exhibition. Experienced team leaders understand what to do when energy dips, or at slow times during the day, how to space out breaks, rotate people on the stand and incentivise staff.
Knowledgeable, well-tested stand staff know how to pace themselves throughout the day, meaning there is less risk of inexperienced team members putting in the maximum effort early on, only to quickly burn out. Specialist personnel are trained not to get distracted by talking to colleagues, by their phones or with what is happening on other stands. They are 100% dedicated to the task at hand.
Employing the perfect people for your trade show stand is critical to hit and exceed your trade show lead generation goals. Bringing your sales team might not be as effective as you think and outsourcing to a qualified, expert team could offer the better solution.
If you’d like to learn more about maximising your exhibiting performance, creating a cohesive strategy which focuses on return on investment and how to staff for success, sign up to our Hi-Performance Exhibiting Masterclass here.