Exhibitions offer a great opportunity to gain qualified leads, make sales and increase awareness of your brand. But in order to make the most of these opportunities, you need to be well prepared. That includes having staff who can talk knowledgeably to prospective customers about your company and products. On the actual day of the exhibition, it will be down to the staff on the stand to make a success of it and engage with customers, so it’s important to have the right team. Here we have some tips for how to train your staff to be ready for an exhibition.
Worried about your Trade Show Staff Training? Who to have on your stand?
You don’t need to fill the stand with just sales staff, they may come across as too pushy for some prospects. It might be a good idea to have a receptionist/admin staff member to initially greet visitors and find out their needs. Plus having a marketing person is useful to ensure the branding is all in place, assess the competition and engage with customers.
Start to gear up for the exhibition several weeks in advance so that staff have the time to fill any knowledge gaps. They should know and understand all products thoroughly and be able to demonstrate them if required. They should also be knowledgeable about the company and industry, including competitors. They should also be up to speed with sales techniques and know-how to qualify leads.
The week before the event
Brief your team and have a practice run on how they are going to behave on the stand. Fire questions at them to test their knowledge. Make sure they are aware of the following:
They should dress appropriately for the event. This will usually be smart-casual business attire. There might be some events where a suit is appropriate, such as legal events, but generally smart trousers or skirts with a shirt or smart top for women will suffice. All clothing should be clean and ironed, and shoes polished. Avoid any bright items. Standing on an exhibition stand all day is tiring so make sure clothes are comfortable and don’t wear high heels. You may want to provide a uniform for staff, if so let them know.
Hair should be neat and tidy, nails clean and neat. Make-up should be subtle. The appearance of staff will give visitors their first impression of your company so it’s important that they look presentable.
All staff should shower every day and apply deodorant. Strong scents can be off-putting so they should avoid wearing lots of aftershave or perfume. There is nothing worse than talking to staff with bad breath so avoid garlic and strong foods during the exhibition. Event halls can leave you hot and sweaty so it’s a good idea for staff to carry deodorant, make-up and mints for the day.
3. Exhibition objectives
Staff should be clear about the objectives for the event. This may be launching a new product, gathering x number of leads, or positioning the company within the industry. Just make sure they know what the goal is. For lead generation, you can make a competition of it to incentivise staff, the person who gains the most leads wins a prize.
4. Show them the exhibition stand
This is often overlooked. Staff should be aware of what the stand looks like, where they are to stand, where the products will be etc. You can explain where you hope visitors will go and how they stand flows. Staff will also need to know where the toilets and restaurants are, where they can store bags and charge phones.
5. Stand behaviour
You need to lay down some ground rules for how staff behave on the stand. Allow enough staff to cover breaks, standing at an exhibition all day is tiring. Ban food, mobile phones and laptops from the stand, seeing staff eating or working will put off visitors. Staff should be attentive to visitors at all times, you’d be amazed at the number of times you see staff standing with their backs to attendees, chatting to each other. They should approach passers-by first, not wait to be approached, and smile! See this article for more body language advice.
6. Lead capture
Your staff need to be trained to qualify leads quickly so that time isn’t wasted on those just after your promotional items. You can just use lead capture forms, but to make the process easier it’s a good idea to invest in lead capture software. This will automate the process and make it quicker, and the information can be synced with your CRM system, avoiding the need for lots of data entry.
7. Create a rota
To ensure the stand is staffed adequately at all times it’s a good idea to set up a rota. Regular breaks and lunch need to be factored in for all staff and you need to make sure they don’t all disappear at once. For a long show, you might want to allocate shifts so that staff aren’t on the stand for lengthy periods.
8. Give staff all they need
Provide your staff with passes for the exhibition and car parking passes if required. They may need train tickets and confirmation of hotel bookings. Giving them a map of where they should go once at the venue is also a good idea so that they don’t get lost. Make sure they arrive at least half an hour before the show opens so that you can explain where everything is.
To get a good ROI from an exhibition it is vital to be prepared. Your staff could make or break the show, so ensuring they are properly trained is important. They need to know how to behave on the stand, how to qualify leads and how to demonstrate the products. Ensuring that they come across well to visitors will help you to achieve your goals for the exhibition.