An organisation is only as strong as the people behind it. After all, even the most innovative products and services will ultimately end up falling flat on their face if employees across the business aren’t striving to achieve wider company goals and objectives.
This philosophy rings true both in the office and out of it, including when your enterprise exhibits at a trade show. These lucrative events give your brand the opportunity to engage with other big players in your industry, increasing exposure, driving sales and encouraging dialogue with key influencers within your sector.
Of course, utilising dynamic booths is the first step to starting these conversations, but even the most well-designed displays still lack the personable, human factor. To this end, you need, well, humans.
Your trade show success hinges on booth staff.
The people you choose to man your booth are integral to your organisation’s success at any event. Being able to hold a conversation with prospects and demonstrating a good understanding of the company’s offerings are some key attributes you should look for, but there are many other characteristics that may contribute to running a successful exhibit.
Whether you plan on hiring external talent or have an in-house promotional team, here are seven traits that all trade show booth staff should have:
1. A great smile
A cheesy Hollywood grin isn’t necessary, but booth staff who aren’t afraid to smile can encourage trade show participants to relax, feel at ease and be confident dealing with your brand.
In an Entrepreneur article, Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson explained that a smile can create a safe and inviting culture, while also helping both customers and employees to feel more enthusiastic about a brand. In fact, Mr Branson believed that it was his friendly approach to business that influenced the Rolling Stones to sign with Virgin Records back in the 1960s.
2. Strong technical knowledge
Naturally, a picture-perfect smile alone is not enough. The staff operating your trade show booth also need to be ready to discuss your organisation’s products and services at length, as well as be able to field questions related to the company and industry as a whole. Many of the trade show’s participants will be experts within their field, further compounding the need for a certain level of knowledge among those representing your company.
To achieve this, you can brainstorm common questions that your booth staff will likely be asked at the event and help them form authoritative responses. Giving them hands-on time with the product or service will also enable them to field any practical questions that may crop up.
3. Approachable body language
It goes without saying that employees who look aggressive or intimidating probably won’t be the first choice of people to represent the company at a trade show. Research published by the American Psychological Association found, perhaps predictably, that people who display angry body language are perceived to be less approachable than those exhibiting other emotions.
Interestingly, the study found that the composition of a happy face and happy body was actually deemed to be less affable than that of a happy face and neutral body.
4. Good listeners
Great booth representatives will be natural conversationalists, able of keeping the conversation with prospects flowing and moving towards the point of sale. While passionate discussion is integral to attracting people to your exhibition stand, the best trade show staff will also realise the value of listening.
Active listening is very much an art, but it’s largely centred around being completely present in the moment. The Wall Street Journal explained that techniques such as maintaining eye contact, asking insightful questions and paraphrasing major points can make the listener appear to be more emotionally engaged.
5. Fit and healthy
Your display booth staff don’t need Olympic levels of athleticism, but trade shows do demand a certain level of fitness, given that they’ll be on their feet for the vast majority of the event. With 21 per cent of Australian adults living sedentary lifestyles, according to figures collated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, you’ll want to make sure your trade show representatives are up to the challenge and capable of conveying your brand’s image for the duration of the event.
Having a high level of confidence is imperative as it sends the message that your staff are passionate about the products or services they’re offering and have a good understanding of the industry as a whole.
Forbes contributor Ken Krogue included assertiveness as one of his 17 most valued skills to have at a trade show, but he highlighted the importance of recognising when a pitch is failing and to let the prospect go. He explained that an assertive person welcomes the opportunity to engage in authentic conversation. An aggressive person, on other hand, is too zealous in their approach and sees discussion as a sales pitch rather than a two-way dialogue.
7. Know how to close a deal
While boosting brand exposure is an important business objective in its own right, your organisation will probably be equally focussed on using the trade show as a platform to generate leads and increase sales.
Therefore, having staff on the ground who are not only able to connect with prospects, but also escalate these relationships into business opportunities is integral to your company’s success at any given event.
Ultimately, visually striking and innovative trade show exhibition designs can help attract prospects to your brand. From there, however, it’s up to your staff to convert this engagement into results.