Thus, my first tip goes out to those involved in selecting the people to work your tradeshow booth. Don’t select staff simply as a reward. I worked for a pharmaceutical company that took this approach. As a result, the booth was staffed with people from the home office who lacked the necessary people skills to interact with potential customers. Instead, select people who have superior people skills to work your booth. Not every person is a customer. Some are spouses or family members of attendees who walk the show floor just to collect as much tchotchke (small knickknacks, pens, etc.) as they can fit into their free conference bag. Though they might not be a decision maker, they should all be considered influencers. A person who has a positive experience with a vendor may only tell one person. A person with a negative vendor experience is likely to tell seven or more via social media.
Set Some Ground Rules For Working A Booth
You would think that if you are sending someone to work a tradeshow, they would realize they are there to work. Not necessarily. Don’t leave this to chance. So here is tip number two — set ground rules for the team working the booth. Don’t assume they know how to work a booth. Working a tradeshow involves being on your feet and interacting with customers. If you are at your booth, consider it a stage. So, no phone calls or emails while working at your company’s booth. If you need to take a call or respond to an email, leave the booth. I have watched traffic leave various booths while people were gabbing on the phone or sitting behind a desk working on their computer. Worse, I have witnessed groups of employees congregate to discuss “Last night’s epic party” while persons milled around the booth and eventually walked away as a result of inattention. Retailing 101 tells you that most customers who experience poor customer service simply leave an establishment without voicing a complaint. They also don’t return for future business. In addition to setting ground rules for appearance, breaks, taking calls and checking emails, here are some other tips:
1. Stand in front of the booth. Being in front on your feet gives you the chance to engage your audience.
2. Know your audience and have an understanding of appropriate etiquette and customs for the various nationalities in attendance.
3. Most people wear name badges at a show. Saying a person’s name as they are walking by can be a great door opener.
4. Ask questions. Give them a reason to stay. If the badge lists their company, ask what they do at company XYZ? If it isn’t listed, just ask. This may save you from detailing a spouse or significant other on your product when they were just interested in a pen.
5. Comment on a cool tie, earring, unique purse, or glasses. This often leads to a discussion.
6. When people are traveling in a group, engage one and quickly engage the others.
7. If you are engaged with one person and someone else comes walking up, get them engaged and up to speed or call over a colleague to help.
8. Give out cards. I am always surprised at how many people run out of cards at a booth.
9. Wear comfortable shoes. It is hard to be pleasant and smile if your feet are killing you.
10. If you have a negative interaction and want to tweet about it, sleep on it first. Tweets always look different in the morning.