When you are planning to exhibit at a trade show, there are millions of things to think about: reserve the spot for your booth, pay all the fees, the conception of your booth, the Internet access you will need, electricity outlets, furniture, screens, and the presentations that they will display, swag, etc.
One item often overlooked or left until the last minute is the team you will send to represent your company. And really, it shouldn’t, as your team members, more than anything else, can convey the right (or the wrong!) message. They are your biggest brand ambassadors, so you must pay extra attention to who you send!
In this article, we will share some tips to help you get the best team on the road for your next trade show.
Tip #1: Pick the right people for your team
The team you are sending will be the face of your company during the trade show. It is, therefore, crucial to pick the best people for the job.
First, you will need to decide on the size of the team. This is highly dependent on the size of your booth, as you don’t want it to look overcrowded by salespeople on the prowl or empty and understaffed.
Another consideration is the number of people you expect to stop at your booth. If you send too few people, they run the risk of being exhausted and not at the top of their game, as they will have to run around taking care of everything. As you know, almost nothing goes as planned during an exhibition, and a million things will need to be taken care of. You don’t want your team to start snapping at potential clients or miss valuable opportunities just because they are burnt out.
On the other side of that coin, you definitely don’t want to send a whole army, as some of them will inevitably be redundant and drive your costs up (this excellent article from Christophe Depernet will explain how to calculate your trade show ROI and why the size of your team is important).
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Then, you need to pick the appropriate profiles. For example, if you are presenting technical products, you need people who know all the specifications and can explain them in layman’s terms. But these people might not always be confident when dealing with people they don’t know. This is why you obviously need your best salespeople there too. They will ensure the prospects are taken care of and introduced to the relevant technical staff.
You might also need, depending on the size of your booth (and your budget), one or two hosts who can welcome visitors and offer them a beverage while they wait on a salesperson to be available (that is, if your booth is extremely busy, which we definitely hope will be the case!)
Tip #2: Train them
You might think your people don’t need further training to represent your company properly. After all, they’ve been with you for what seems like forever.
But in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to forget what you’ve known for years!
So make sure you create support documents that will give them all the details about the upcoming event: what trade show you are sending them to, where it is located, the purpose of your presence there, roles and responsibilities of the team members, and all the supporting documentation about the company you can gather, as well as the products/services they will be presenting.
Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash
Create an “elevator pitch” that your team can use to grab the visitors’ attention quickly. Don’t forget that sales at a trade show are fundamentally different from interacting during a business dinner or at the prospect’s office. Your salespeople need to be able to attract visitors to your booth and retain them for a more extended presentation of the company and the products/services you offer.
Also, start the training phase at least three months before the event so that your team has the time to digest all the information you are going to throw at them. Furthermore, they might be able to point at some potential problems that you can then address before the event.
Tip #3: Support them before and during the event
Aside from the information about the company and the products/services, you must ensure your team has all the relevant information regarding the trip beforehand. This includes travel information (flight number, boarding pass, seat numbers, car rental, etc.), accommodation details (name and location of the hotel, distance from the trade show venue, etc.), meal allowance, etc.
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Once they are on-site, make sure they have a way to get in touch with you or somebody at HQ if they run into a (big) problem. They should be self-sufficient enough that they don’t need hand-holding, but sometimes an issue they won’t have the power to solve on their own will arise. So be sure to be available for them by giving them all the contact information of the people who can help them if the need arises.
Tip #4: Follow-up/debrief with the team
One thing that is very often overlooked is getting the team’s feedback on the event. They should be able to point out the things that went well and the ones that could be improved. For example, you picked what looked like the ideal location for your booth from the floor map the organizer sent you. But you didn’t see that your booth would be partially blocked by a pillar which hindered circulation around it during the event. Or you might have thought it would be a great idea to be as close as possible to that conference room. Still, you didn’t realize that the alleys were relatively narrow, and people attending the conference couldn’t actually see your booth properly because of the stream of people blocking the path.
You can also send your staff members a survey to share feedback about their experience at the trade show. That should help you determine if they felt they received enough training to make them feel confident, what could be done better or differently, etc.
Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash
Finally, it’s crucial to follow up with the sales team to ensure they do something with the collected leads. Too often, the leads just gather dust as your salespeople go back to their daily activities and promptly forget to follow up with the prospects they talked to at the trade show.
There are a lot of parameters to consider when building the team that will represent your company for your next trade show.
Don’t forget your team will be the face of your company! They should be given all the necessary tools to be able to handle the situations that can (and will) arise during a trade show. They should also feel valued and supported.
But if you pick the right people and give them the right tools and help, your exhibition will be a success!
To help your team attract visitors more easily, totm exposition can make your trade show booths unique and attention-grabbing to interesting prospects. Contact us if you have a project you would like to discuss!