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10 simple tips for better trade show staffing

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Many first time trade show exhibitors make the mistake of putting all their focus on getting attendees into their trade show booth, and forget to focus on keeping the attendees at their booth. First timers usually do a good job on the pre-tradeshow promotion and have catchy booth graphic so that visitors will stop and ask questions, but often one of the most important parts of a good trade show booth is overlooked - your trade show booth staff! What distinguishes trade show marketing from many other types of marketing is the human interaction - which is why making sure you have a well-trained, great trade show staff is so important. Fortunately, the basics of ensuring professional trade show staffing are just that... basic. Whether your trade show booth staff consists of just you, or a dozen dedicated marketing department employees, train your trade show booth staffers with these ten simple trade show staffing tips to insure the human element of your trade show booth is doing its job to the best of their ability.

✔ 1. STAND UP!
Get off your feet, stand up, and keep standing up. Don't sit down. Not only will you be more alert, but just as important, staffers who are standing are more approachable (and are able to step forward and approach people passing by) compared to staffers who are sitting with their arms folded, staring off into space. You should be standing whenever you are working the booth greeting people and answering questions (so remember to wear your favorite pair of comfortable shoes).

You need to be fully rested and fully fueled, and operating at 100 percent. Get plenty of sleep the night before, eat a complete breakfast, drink water throughout the day, and don't forget your comfortable shoes. And don't forget to watch what you eat and check your breath. Nobody likes bad breath!

Wear a name tag. Make sure it is easy to read, and that it has your name, your company name, and your position if applicable. If your name can be difficult to read or to pronounce, you may want to think about adding a simpler nickname as well as your real name.

Ask your prospect for their name, and then address them by their name. People like being identified as an individual. Before you jump into business, ask them how they are doing. Don't treat them like a number or a lead... treat them like the unique individual they are. When you are done talking with them, be sure to thank them, and again use their name. If you have an ironic or sarcastic sense of humor or personality, put it on hold. If something can be misinterpreted, it often is, and people can be easily offended, so keep the sarcasm and irony to yourself. And always remember to smile!

✔ 5. ASK!
Ask questions. Find out what needs, issues, or problems your prospect has. Don't just launch into a canned sales speech. Find out what your potential customer really needs. You generally can't ask too many questions or express to much interest in a prospect. People like to be paid attention to. And remember to make your questions open-ended. Try to avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no, and instead ask questions that lead to discussion and continue the conversation.

✔ 6. LISTEN!
Follow the 80-20 rule. 80% of your conversation should involve you listening, and only 20% should be you talking. You will learn much more about your customer when they're doing the talking, so spend more time with your mouth shut instead of open. Ask good question, and use your ears more than your mouth.

✔ 7. IGNORE!
Focus on your booth visitors. They are the reason you are at the show. Don't chat with the other tradeshow staffers, and certainly don't spend time on your smart phone. Put it away! Trade show exhibit booth business hours are for business. It is not the time to talk about anything else, including problems you and your co-workers may be having with your boss. As a rule of thumb, if you're not talking with prospects, you probably shouldn't be talking. Keep the after-hours talk for after-hours.

People like to get stuff. Make sure you have plenty of business cards and brochures (and any other sales literature and information you need). Also consider having trade show giveaways available to hand out. A good trade show giveaway (with your business name on it of course) is a great way to show your appreciation for prospects who spend time talking to you, and a good giveaway will help them remember your company later.

You need to always have enough personnel to handle all the booth visitors you get. Don't make prospects wait to talk with someone about their questions, as they will often just walk away and go on the the next booth. Don't skimp when it comes to the number of trade show staff in your booth. While you may be the most knowledgeable person at your company, if it's just you in the booth and prospects are leaving, then you need help. Make sure your booth has enough staff!

✔ 10. FOCUS.
Keep your focus on your trade show booth, and not the booth across from you or two aisles down (even if you're dying to see why they seem to have such a huge crowd around their booth, or if they have a famous athlete or movie star signing autographs... your kid can live without the autographed napkin). Resist the urge to slip away for "competitive research". You can find out what your trade show competitors are up after the exhibitor floor closes for the day. During exhibit hours, your focus must be on your trade show booth and your visitors. Your aren't an attendee at the show, you are an exhibitor. You don't get to walk around and gab. You have a job to do.

Read these staffing tips, remember them, and use them as part of your overall trade show strategy to make all of your hard work pay off and your next trade show a huge success!

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