It is no secret that exhibition staff are incredibly important. They are a solid pillar in your exhibition performance. The reason for this is explained by Simon Sinek best, “People don’t buy what you do, people buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”. This could not be truer when it comes to exhibition staff. Having passionate staff means that they believe in the “why” behind your brand, they want the attendees to share in the magic of your product. This enthusiasm can be misplaced if it is mishandled.
There are may ways that you can ensure the success of your exhibition staff. It is important to remember that exhibition staff are placed in a different setting, and the excitement of the exhibition experience can be overwhelming for a majority. There is little privacy, meaning that if you react to one customer, your facial expressions will be clear to any other potential customers around you. In a lot of ways, working on an exhibition stand can be like putting on a performance. It is working on a sales environment on steroids. The environment is unlike any other sales environment, and below details the tips and tricks to ensure that your exhibition team is successful.
If you are having trouble with your exhibition performance, exhibition staffing is an area that can get overlooked quite a lot. It’s usually an area that not a lot of thought is employed in, there are standard people who will always oversee working on the exhibition stand. The size of the business exhibiting will often dictate which member of the team is responsible for attending the exhibition and working on the exhibition stand. If you are a small business, often the business owner will work on the display stand. Business owners want to drive success and results, so it can be hard to continually motivate other staff members to work on the exhibition display stand with the same level of enthusiasm and drive. It’s so crucial, because 86% of what visitors remember from their visit to an exhibition is shaped by the staff behaviour on an exhibition stand. Personally, I know this to be true. And if you think about your experiences at trade shows or exhibitions, you’ll find it’s true for you too.
There are many methods you can employ to make sure that your exhibition staff fulfil their duties as experts on your exhibition stand. The best place to start is to establish what issues you might have with your exhibition staff. Managing exhibition staff is like managing any other staff member, you should always analyse their performance and match the performance against your expectations. Understanding what your expectations are of your staff and how to measure that is important for understanding how to rectify any behaviour that isn’t ideal. If you understand the behaviour that you don’t like or isn’t working, then you can work out ways to change it and implement methods to measure performance. Small changes can make big impacts.
One small change that can have a large impact on exhibition staff motivation is their outfits. If your company already employs a uniform, then this is easier to address. But investing in a new uniform or outfit that is specifically used for exhibitions can be helpful. It can help motivate your exhibition staff and help them work as a team for the best results from the exhibition. You can take this idea further by organising an exhibition uniform that compliments your branding. A recent example of this was the MYOB Incite Roadshow. Events 720 designed the bespoke shell-schemes that were offered to the exhibitors, which focused on incorporating the MYOB branding and colours. From this, the MYOB team decided to organise new shirts for the MYOB staff to wear during the exhibition. These shirts complimented the MYOB branding, but still gave that extra boost of motivation that it was something new, reserved just for the fun of the exhibition. Employing this method requires some forethought – ensure that you choose a style that is going to suit all staff members. You still want your exhibition staff to be comfortable, otherwise they will be preoccupied and won’t be able to sell effectively. Organising outfits can also mean that you should lay some ground rules on how to dress for the exhibition generally. Ensure that exhibition staff wear comfortable shoes, and that you inform them that there is a lot of standing that comes with working on an exhibition stand.
MYOB have organised t-shirts for staff to wear which reflect the branding and are suitable for all staff.
Hopefully before you attend the exhibition you have identified the best way to store details of potential customers, ideally using a CRM that supports any of your other technology platforms. Some other exhibitors like to use iPads, or other tablets to collect information from attendees. It is important to assess the technological skills of your employees to determine whether you need to engage in any training prior to the exhibition. There are many different technology options that you can incorporate into your exhibition marketing plan. Technology beacons are a great way to reach a wider audience in the exhibition hall, but they are only effective if you have a team that understands how to use them. If your staff does require further training make sure that you allow plenty of time prior to the exhibition for this training to occur. Otherwise your staff may not be fully comfortable or remember what training you gave.
Along with any technology that you might choose to use, choose to use technology that can provide easy to use and assess marketing metrics. You will already be using technology that highlights the results of your marketing efforts. This technology should be transferable to the exhibition world, however if for some reason that it’s not, it’s important to still engage in an assessment of your marketing efforts. A more low-tech option might be a Microsoft Excel document, more high-tech options are engaging in great marketing software. Either way, ensure that your staff understand how to use both. This is especially important to remember if your exhibition staff don’t have to use marketing software as part of their every day job.
In conjunction with technology training, it is important to have some sessions of basic sales training. This training should focus on a wide range of techniques, not just focus on how to sell your products. Sales training should focus on how to engage delegates and attract them to your stand, and once you have attracted them to your stand, how best to engage them with your product. Below are some ideas on what your training should focus on.
Prepping your team with some conversation starters is a great way to train them to be ready for selling during the exhibition. There are some conversation starters that are easy to shut down and ignore. Conversations that start with “Hi, how are you?” can easily be ignored. How often do you walk past someone set up in a temporary station at a shopping centre? Creating a range of great conversation starters can reduce the chance of this happening. A great way to do this is to use personalisation techniques when trying to engage delegates. If the delegates wear nametags, then this is a great way to use their name when initiating conversation. It can be hard to remember a large volume of names when there are so many other things going on. Therefore, it is important to engage in training prior to the exhibition – you can strengthen your memory with enough time. There are some great tips on how to increase the chances that you’ll remember someone’s name here.
Remember that a smile is the best conversation starter, it reassures the delegates that you are friendly, and open to having a discussion with them.
DiSC profiling and approaching the right delegates the right way
There is a lot evidence to suggest that the way you approach people will influence the way the interaction goes. Everyone has a unique personality, and with this comes an individual style of interacting with others and initiating conversation. Some people will respond positively to your personality, others will not. It is worth taking time to research and understand the main personality types. DiSC profiling is commonly used in training sales and retail staff, so that the staff can become accustomed to deciphering what kind of personality is more dominant in a person. It is also beneficial to have people with varying personalities as a part of the exhibition staff, so that the differing personalities can work with similar minded personalities. An example of this is if you had a bubbly and lively sales person who was very high energy, they will struggle to sell to someone who is more reserved and quiet and is uncomfortable interacting with a salesperson who is high energy.
Capturing the attention of the delegates can be hard, you have 8 seconds to capture someone’s attention and maintain it. If you lead with a scripted performance, at best you will attract 50% of the DiSC circle and attract attendees who have a personality who values your approach. At worst, you’ll only attract 25% of the attendees, those who think like you. That means that you will lose out on approaching a large volume of attendees, and it means that your exhibition marketing efforts will not be effective.
Working on an exhibition stand takes more than cold selling and hoping for the best. For the best results you really should aim to take the time to train your staff. 85% of your exhibition success lies in the performance of your exhibition staff. It makes no sense that you would gamble with those odds. It takes time and money to train your staff, but it is an investment into the performance of your exhibition marketing efforts.
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