Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.

Tradeshow staff training

Your Emotions On the Tradeshow Floor

Just like the sales situation of a tradeshow floor is magnified by the intensity and chaos of the situation, so are the emotions of exhibitors and attendees.

If you’ve been to a lot of tradeshows like I have, and you pay attention to how people are (and take a few moments to talk one-on-on with them), you realize that people are holding emotions in. Not all of them, of course. We are human and those emotions come out. But many are buzzed, giddy, exhausted and likely stressed out to the max. Or not.

Constant interaction with people pushes stress higher. Standing on your feet all day makes you tired and exhausted, giving way to heightened emotions.

(click to enlarge)

In 1980 Robert Plutchik created the Wheel of Emotion (at left), showing eight basic emotions and eight advanced emotions each composed of two basic ones.

The basic emotions: Joy, Trust, Fear, Surprise, Sadness, Distrust, Anger and Anticipation.

The advanced emotions are Optimism (Anticipation and Joy), Love (Joy and Trust), Submission (Trust and Fear), Awe (Fear and Surprise), Disappointment (Surprise and Sadness), Remorse (Sadness and Disgust), Contempt (Disgust and Anger), and Aggressiveness (Anger and Anticipation).

No matter what emotions you feel while attending or working a tradeshow, it’s easy to get caught up. Have you ever felt yourself feeling heightened instances of Joy, Anger, Anticipation or Sadness?

You feel JOY when you make a big sale. You feel ANGER or DISAPPOINTMENT when you’re told you have to work an extra two hours after having already spent the day on your feet. You may feel REMORSE when you said the wrong thing to a potential client or let slip some inside information to a competitor.

And you could be feeling more AGGRESSIVE than you might normally in the OPTIMISM of heading into a show where you want to knock ’em dead with a great presentation, a great booth and a terrific product backed up by a great marketing effort.

Other researchers have pointed to other emotions such as Doubt, Envy, Frustration, Guilt, Shame; Boredom, Despair, Disappointment, Hurt, Shock, Agitation, Amusement, Delight, Elation, Excitement, Affection, Empathy, Friendliness and Love.

Part of the challenge of attending tradeshows is to know that the intense activity of the tradeshow floor, the after-hours parties, break-out sessions or client meetings is to be expected: mentally prepare for them, and plan on some ‘down time’ in your hotel room before hitting your pillow.

If you’re prepared for the heightened emotions, you’ll be able to take them more in stride.

But of course…you gotta be YOU! And if that means getting carried away by the situation, so be it.

What does a tradeshow do to your emotions? Does it put you on a roller-coaster or do you take it all in and enjoy it for what it is?

graphic copyright Ivan Akira – used under Creative Commons usage guidelines

Five Things to Teach Your Staff Before the Tradeshow

Tradeshow staff training is often seen as the ‘missing gap’ between coming away from a tradeshow with an assortment of grungy leads and a stack of well-defined leads.

But experience has shown that most companies spent little to no money actually training their staff to do the right things at a show to accomplish those goal-gathering leads.

So I thought it might be a good thing to jot down a list of five – just five, that’s all – things that you should teach your tradeshow staff before the next show.

1. Teach your staff which products and services will be highlighted at the show. If you have a larger booth, note on a floor map where the products/services will be handled or discussed with the visitors, along with who the subject matter experts might be for those items. In this way your staff can handle inquires and direct the visitor to the right area or find the right answer to those questions.

2. Teach your staff to quickly and efficiently qualify and disqualify visitors. If the visitor is NOT a prospect, the sooner your staff member disengages with them and moves on to the next visitor, the more efficient they’ll be at gathering leads. This means asking the right questions, noting the answers, and asking correct follow-up questions that determine the level of interest and who and how to follow up with that visitors.

3. Teach your staff how to properly process a lead. If you have a lead form, have them practice filling it out. If you are using a badge scanner at the show, practice on it before the show starts. If there are specific questions that need to be asked, have them rehearse the questions.

4. Inform your staff the overall objective(s), goals and reasons for being at the show. If they understand the ‘30,000 foot view’ of why the company is at this show, they’ll have a better grasp of why those goals are important.

5. Let your staff know how important they are to the success of the tradeshow. Explain why they were chosen to represent the company, that they are the ‘front lines’ and the face of the company. Anything they do will reflect on visitors’ impressions of the company. Little things go a long way. Small things like smiles and politeness standard for many companies…but when you remind your staff how important those things really are (and how noticeable if you forget), it’s more likely they’ll remember to wear a smile and be polite all the time.

Is there anything you teach your staff that is missing in this list?

Qualifying Questions at Tradeshows

Tradeshows are a busy and distracting environment in which you’re trying to make sales and generate leads. By asking qualifying questions you can cut to the chase quickly.

Tradeshow consultant and author Mitch Tarr says it takes practice. For instance, you should come up with a pertinent question, such as “Do you own a small business nearby?” or “Do you have kids in elementary school?” Rehearse the question with your colleagues and ask for input. Find two or three opening questions that feel natural, that easily roll off the tongue.

By spending a moment to engage each booth visitor, you’ll quickly determine if they’re qualified prospects. Each show might require a different qualifying question. A regional home show would have different requirements than a national tradeshow.

Ensure that everyone on your staff is well-rehearsed and able to ask the question to qualify visitors. While this may seem simple, in practice it often is not. In the heat and bustle of a tradeshow, it’s easy for someone to forget what the question is – or forget to ask it consistently of the booth visitors.

Once that person is disqualified, you can politely disengage and they’ll be on their way. If you qualify them, ‘peel the onion’ and ask a few more questions to narrow down their interest. By focusing on what they are looking for, you help steer them to the right product or service or even to the right person in your booth to discuss their issue.

It’s all in the questions you ask. So test the questions and keep working and refining them until they are getting the results you want.

Creative Commons License

photo credit: Torley

Top Ten Tradeshow Superheroes

Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no it’s — it’s a guy on a ladder that’s about to fall!

All tradeshows have their cast of characters – both heroes and villains – but you may be so engrossed that you don’t recognize the hero (or the villain) working right beside you.

Holy Giant Graphic, Batman! It’s time for our list of the Top Ten Tradeshow Superheroes:

10. The Flash: If you want something done, ask a busy person. There’s always someone on the booth staff that has the ability to get things done, no matter what it takes. They look ordinary, and in fact, wear no special costume, but when an issue or problem arises, this person makes it happen.
Weakness: Burnout. Moving so fast for so long will definitely take its toll. In fact, the friction caused by moving so fast through Earth’s atmosphere may actually cause smoke or minor burning.

9. Captain America: Always fighting for Truth, Justice and the American Way, Captain America seeks out wrong and strives to make it right. Whether it’s a banner that’s crooked, a small piece of dirt on the carpet, this super hero will go the distance to make everything perfect.
Weakness: Perfection is impossible. That’ll probably drive Captain America bonkers some day.

8. The Incredible Hulk: Okay, he’s typically mild-mannered, but suddenly during set-up of the booth, he turns into a behemoth able to lift large light fixtures, trusses or graphics to make set-up go easier. Be sure to buy the guy a drink after set-up. He’s earned it.
Weakness: Low self-image; needs emotional reinforcement.

7. Iron Man: No doubt you’ve met this super hero, but may not have recognized him. According to comic book mythology, Iron Man wears a suit of armor, yet underneath it all he battles demons such as alcoholism and a broken heart (literally, with a piece of threatening shrapnel), but is a brilliant businessman.
Weakness: So yeah, a flawed hero (aren’t they all?).

6. Sue Storm, the Invisible Girl: One minute she’s there, the next she’s gone. In the blink of an eye. Sometimes when you’re looking right at her. Disappears at certain hours only to reappear in the lounge.
Weakness: Tends to like the handsome nerdy type. Especially those with a rubber personality.

5. Politeness Man (from National Lampoon): Perhaps not a real super hero, still he does exist. No matter how rude people are to him or his staff, Politeness Man always manages to keep a smile pasted on his face, and treats people exceedingly nice.
Weakness: Can slip into a pithy condescending tone when his pals are not looking.

4. Johnny Storm, The Human Torch: A hothead at heart, all he needs is to encounter some small inconvenience and it’s all “Flame On!” Stand back or you’ll get burned.
Weakness: Water of course. Prefers something shaken, not stirred.

3. The Joker: Okay, not really a super hero, but the nemesis of all that is good about tradeshows. Constantly looking for ways to party harder, play practical jokes, make fun of people, but he vanishes when the going gets tough. Always returns to claim some sort of victory.
Weakness: I think Batman has his number. Right?

2. The Silver Surfer: Exiled to Earth by Galactus after saving the planet from destruction, the Silver Surfer….uh, wait. The Silver Surfer of the tradeshow floor is the aloof yet powerful entity (often a CEO or upper level management guru) that is visible for brief moments, then disappears into high-level conferences to discuss saving the company or aligning with another all-powerful entity. Or something like that.
Weakness: Still has a problem relating to the citizens of Earth. Would rather take that surfboard to parts unknown (Barbados, Jamaica, Maui, etc.).

1. Wonder Woman: No further description necessary – she’s a wonder and she’s a woman. Does it all. Unfortunately, she only exists on another company’s booth staff. A perfect 10, and often thought of as a vanishing species.
Weakness: None discovered so far.

Have you spotted any of these Superheroes lately? Did you thank them for the good work they do (except the Joker)?  Did they vanish to their secret lair as soon as the work was finished?

Or – and this may be a tough question to answer – are YOU a superhero? If so, hurry up and change back into your disguise…or be prepared to sign autographs the next time you stop slow down for coffee.

Whew! Where’s the nearest phone booth?

Staying in Your Prospect’s RADAR

Radar

Trade shows are a great place to stay in touch.

Let’s say you sell a product that has a long sales cycle of several years. How do you keep on those company’s radar screens so that when they are ready to buy, they think of you?

Trade shows happen to be an excellent and low-stress way to stay in touch. Let’s say Prospect Company A is exhibiting at seven shows in the next year. If you can get to two of them and greet the principals you’ll be making face-to-face contact on average every six months. This gives you an inside track on other sales folks pitching them with a similar product. And the good thing about trade shows is that you have several dozen (if not a hundred or more) potential clients at the same show.

Company managers, CEO’s and movers and shakers will attend the bigger ‘expo’ type shows, so that’s a good place to introduce yourself. Come up with an objective for meeting them – even if it’s as simple as “Hey, I was attending the show because I wanted to meet some potential clients.”

Don’t try and pitch them at the show, but do try and ask a few questions to get a feel for their interest and needs for your particular product.

Follow up with a thank you card within a few days, clip an article of interest a month or two later and before you know it you’ll be on a first name basis with your prospect.

That’s how sales are made.

How Important is Booth Staff Training?

Tradeshow Staff Training - is it important?

You’ve no doubt arrived at a tradeshow booth wanting to find out more about the product or service being offered. Maybe you even scouted them out or found them on a recommendation.

But when you arrive you find that the staff greets you with indifference. Or worse, you find yourself ignored, and not because the staff is busy with other customers but because they’re chatting with themselves.

What do you do? Turn and walk away? I’ve seen it happen.

It’s a missed sales opportunity that will likely not be regained. All because your booth staffers didn’t have the presence of mind or proper training to greet you.

When you arrive at the tradeshow with a well-trained staff, you communicate a subtle message to visitors and fellow exhibitors: We Came Prepared. We’re Ready for You. Bring It On.

It’s all part of your bottom line: a well-trained staff can increase both the quality and quantity of your take-home leads. Team meetings every day can keep your staff focused and on task. A well-trained staff will invite visitors in by smiling and asking pertinent qualifying questions. They’ll determine who’s a quality prospect and who’s not, and effectively move the prospects into the sales funnel and the non-prospects out of the booth.

By taking the time to train your staff in engaging and qualifying your visitors, you’re investing in a valuable resource. And that investment will reap dividends in the real world – your tradeshow marketing ROI.

How Does Your Staff Treat Visitors?

“Of course,” you say confidently, “my tradeshow staff treats visitors great! We welcome them, find out what they want, and help them out to the best of our ability.”

But do they? Really? All the time?

I bring this up because of an email exchange I had with a guy I met on Twitter who had seen one of our company’s custom-fabricated booths at a recent show. He mentioned that the booth was great, but he left with, as he put it, ‘was not the most positive.’

Curious, I asked him to explain, which he did:

‘…as I was passing through the show floor on my way to see a client the booth caught my eye and I stopped to look.  The rep approached and asked if I had heard of the company which I gently responded “No I have not.” At this she seemed offended and dis-interested in talking with me.”

Now I didn’t see the exchange so I can’t judge it other than what I was told. We don’t know what the rep’s version would be. But it does point out a glaring example of the lasting power of a first impression: months later, the negativity (even if only mild) is still the thing that sticks out in the visitor’s mind.

To me that’s an interesting story. When we discuss tradeshow marketing with out clients, we try to emphasize that while they can spend thousands on booth, travel, set-up, space rental and more, if their staff is not trained to properly handle simple encounters like that, it can all be for naught.

I tell them that their staff is the ‘front line’ and they all need to be ‘on their game’ at all times.

What would the proper response have been? I would ssuggest something along the lines of “Would you like to learn more?” or “Well, if you’re not interested feel free to tell someone about us that may be in the market for our product.” A referral is as good as any way to get a client.

Admittedly, anyone can slip. But think about this: like many games of sports, tradeshow marketing is a game of inches. If the rep had gone the extra step of asking a question or two or offering to let the visitor know a little more information, he may have left with a positive feeling instead of telling me months later about the encounter and the negative impression it left on him.

© Copyright 2016 | Oregon Blue Rock, LLC
Tradeshow Guy Blog by Tim Patterson

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