It doesn’t matter how innovative your exhibit design is if your staff isn’t properly conveying the message of the booth. 85% of an exhibitor’s success hinges on the performance of its booth staff. Despite its importance, only 26 percent of exhibitors conduct trade show staff training for all or most of their events, according to a Center for Exhibition Industry Research study. We put together several trade show staffing essentials you can’t miss if you want your trade show program to perform.
More often than not, marketing managers and booth staff have different ideas on how to have a successful trade show. If you can open communication and come to a happy medium between both parties, you will be able to bring in more qualified leads – resulting in a bigger bottom line for your company.
What Do Sales Staff Want?
Brian Kaltsas, Senior Vice President of Sales for EDE Corporation, gave us his perspective. We come across this topic very frequently with our clients. Brian began his career in a marketing role, and after 3 years, transferred over to sales. Spending time on both sides of the spectrum has given him a unique and valuable perspective.
Brian found that show floor sales staff were never 100% happy with the materials marketing managers provided. The sales staff’s goal is to turn sales around quickly. Getting their input on what message needs to go out and what information needs to be provided can help the process. It’s imperative to listen to your sales staff and for communication to be open between the marketing and sales departments.
Pre-Show Staff Training
Having a successful sales team leader can help with training the sales staff from the start. When you’re having your pre-show sales meeting, make sure your marketing staff is invited in to contribute. A good idea is to have marketing curate a pre-show information sheet with all the key marketing topics and even ideas on how to talk about them. It is also essential to set the sales team ratio up for success. For example, have a mix of junior and senior level salespeople working the booth and scheduling appropriately. Make sure your booth is not overwhelmed with too many salespeople at any one time. Attendees are often wary of approaching a booth where salespeople are circling around it like hawks.
The sales staff need to be educated and knowledgeable about their craft. Proper training allows your booth staff to provide more comprehensive experiences to visitors while being able to more effectively convey the exhibit’s message. Trained staffers are more than twice as likely to convert qualified leads into sales than staffers that have not been trained.
Goals Need to be Aligned
It seems obvious, but the main reason exhibitors attend trade shows is to gather qualified leads and convert them into sales. This might lead you to think that managing the lead-gathering and follow-up process should be the top priority for every exhibit manager from the minute they start planning a show. Sounds reasonable, but with all the other details and deadlines marketing managers face, lead management often takes a back seat to exhibit design and brand messaging.
It’s also important for your sales staff to recognize that not every lead is top priority. Keep track of where a lead was taken and the context so you know what type of follow-up they should receive. For example, a generic post-show email thanking them for visiting your exhibit versus a phone call from a sales rep.
Taking the Lead
Today’s options for lead retrieval and management are light years beyond the badge scanners and fishbowls of yesteryears. In the business of lead management, it’s all about capturing, qualifying, distributing, and following up. Utilizing a lead retrieval app that can be on the sales team’s smartphones and can be integrated into their CRM along with training them how to use said app can do your sales team wonders. If your staffers don’t seem to know what they’re talking about, attendees will write off your entire company.
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