“The average salesperson increases performance by 20% after training.”

The actual value of a trade show stand increases radically when you have well-trained staff and whilst I understand that companies see this as an additional expense I would argue that it’s probably a bigger investment than all the additional extras you put on your exhibition stand! Exhibiting is not like other forms of selling as it’s reactive and in our day-to-day business we organise and go to appointments, whereas at a show we have no idea who is going to come on the stand, so we need to be better prepared.

I also say this because if you’re not, the visitor will spot this and is likely to jump ship to one of your competitors, conveniently located within the same hall as you!

However, while trade shows and exhibitions are worthwhile, they are not easy. To get the most out of them, exhibit marketers set measurable objectives, pick good shows, design effective exhibits, and more. In this section, we’ll discover the main key elements of a successful trade show marketing programme.

Train your exhibiting staff so they are comfortable
At trade shows, 85% of the positive feelings visitors have are due to the staff. Your exhibition staff are responsible for drawing in your potential customers, effectively engaging them and creating leads. Because of this, it is important that you select the most effective staff that your company has to offer.


If they are salespeople, you have to train them to adapt their selling style to the trade show floor. If they are not salespeople, guess what – they can still do extremely well, given the proper preparation. Trade show staffing is uncomfortable for almost everyone at first! You will give your staff greater comfort and confidence by training them to understand and follow a 4-step staffing process:

1. Engage: 30 seconds. Start the process by stopping attendees. Prepare and practice questions that won’t get a yes or no answer.

2. Qualify: 2 minutes. Determine if the prospect is worth presenting to … and what to present.

3. Present: 5 to 8 minutes. Demo on just the prospect’s needs, not everything you know. Prepare for common objections and questions.

4. Close: 1-minute. Lead card complete? Agree on the next step and go on to the next lead!

Companies often overlook the fact that they are taking chances with exhibitions if their sales or exhibition team are not fully trained and this really is an opportunity missed as you only have one chance to make a first impression and this is it.

Consider how much you are really investing in exhibiting and the trade show.

I don’t necessarily mean the cost with the organiser as this is on average only 1/3 of what you will spend overall. It’s a big investment! Exhibitions offer a different type of sales opportunity and the worst thing you can have is a visitor walking away from your exhibition stand with a bad experience.

Exhibition training comes in many forms but covers topics including:

– How to get visitors to your stand
– Engaging visitors while they are on your stand
– Getting the right information from visitors
– How to sell at Exhibitions
– Qualifying real buyers and not time wasters
– Getting the buyer to the next stage
– Follow up strategies for post-show
– Database building
– Making sure your visitor doesn’t need to go to your competitors stand!

Many companies do all the right things when it comes to exhibiting and have a great stand, lots of freebies, multi-marketing campaigns and great shiny new products but give little thought to the one thing that will ultimately sell your product… Your people!

If you have all the wonderful aspects of exhibiting right but your people aren’t up to the job, then you are going to get some sales and leads but not as many as you potentially could. A lot of people say to me “but, why do I need training? It’s too expensive.”

To give you an example, I had a client at a show a few years ago who spent north of €20k with me and close to €75k overall and in talking to his staff it was really obvious that they were telesales people drafted in from the office to work the exhibition stand, they had no idea how to sell in an exhibition environment and in watching them from afar I could see them let visitors walk on and off the stand whilst they just sat there in fear not knowing what to do. I don’t say this to shame them but rather the responsibility was with the directors to ensure that every nugget of a lead was chased up, unfortunately, it didn’t happen, and the company never exhibited again

If you’re going to spend thousands of your hard-earned money exhibiting, be sure the people who are helping you are fully trained in how to do so. You should be spending at least 10% of your overall budget having and training the right people. This is not a cost, it’s an investment because without it you will get fewer leads, less business and very possibly give your visitors a bad impression of your business.


Stephan “The Exhibition Guy” Murtagh has 25+ years’ experience in the exhibition and events industry and has worked with many of the biggest organisers in the industry. As a qualified Fetac trainer, he set-up The Exhibition Guy to educate and train people on how to sell more, his website features module-based courses and coaching for real-life situations within the sector.

Contact The Exhibition Guy to learn how he can help manage and educate your exhibiting team.