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To generate a positive return on your trade show investments and maximize sales from your exhibit, you need to have the right people at your exhibit booth. Not everyone has the right personality or skills to excel working a trade show booth. While you can’t change a person’s personality, you can help your team learn the skills they need to be successful at every trade show.
Very few people can step into a trade show booth and instantly feel comfortable. It takes training, practice, and time to feel confident and to communicate in an authentic way while still getting the results the business needs.
With that said, following are 10 key skills your B2B trade show exhibit team needs to have (or learn) in order to be successful.
Every person who works at your trade show exhibit should be able to identify specific goals for their participation. Daily goals should answer questions like: How many people do I need to speak with each day? How many leads do I need to get?
In addition, overall event participation goals should be identified. These can include things like raising brand awareness among specific audiences, building customer relationships, and more.
To be successful in a trade show booth, every employee should know exactly who to target while they’re working. They should know who is most likely to be interested in your company’s products and services.
Demographic information like job title, daily responsibilities, and the type of company your most valuable prospects work for are critical details that will help your employees qualify booth visitors and ask appropriate questions.
To save time and maximize the return on your trade show exhibit investments, your team needs to know what questions to ask visitors in order to quickly qualify them as viable prospects. By asking leading questions, they can get a clear understanding of not just whether or not visitors are viable leads but also what stage of the buyer journey they’re in.
Therefore, they should be able to prepare questions to ask visitors – starting with simple questions and then diving in with deeper questions once a visitor has been qualified as a viable prospect.
Sitting behind a table at a trade show exhibit is a big mistake. It makes your team seem unapproachable. Instead, everyone should stand, so they’re on the same level as visitors. In addition, they should understand how to stand comfortably for long periods of time without getting tired or experiencing pain.
Your booth workers should also make a point to welcome every visitor and every passerby who makes eye contact. They need confidence and an outgoing personality to feel comfortable doing this.
Standing behind a table or counter in a trade show exhibit is better than sitting, but getting out into the aisle and funneling traffic to your booth is even better. The more people who are funneled to your booth, the more potential leads your company will get.
The best booth workers know that funneling traffic doesn’t mean selling. It means giving people a real reason to want to stop by your booth. Once they get to your booth, your team can engage them in conversations and ask questions to qualify them.
Expo halls are usually very busy. There are a lot of people passing by your booth at once, and many of them will stop to look at what your company does. Therefore, it’s essential that your team knows how to appropriately acknowledge people – even if they can’t break away from a conversation with another person immediately.
Your team members should also have skills to end conversations gracefully, so they can speak to more people. If a worker spends all their time talking to one person, your business will lose opportunities to gain additional leads.
No one who works at a trade show booth can remember everything they talked about with each visitor, but that information is critical when it comes time for post-event outreach. That’s why your exhibit team must be skilled at taking notes about leads. Doing so could be the difference between closing or losing a sale later.
Savvy trade show booth workers will ask for business cards from prospects – even if they can simply scan a visitor’s badge to collect their contact information. Asking for a business card allows the team member to write down key details about a prospect after they leave your booth – personalized details that don’t get captured in a badge scan. This information can make post-event follow-up more personal, powerful, and successful.
The best exhibit booth workers know they have to practice everything from standing and greeting people to asking the right questions, funneling traffic, ending conversations, and more. This all requires practice.
Even seasoned trade show booth workers practice before an event for the simple reason that no two events and no two event audiences are the same.
Trade show booth workers have the most success when they have excellent listening skills. Just as listening is important to sales, it’s critical to obtaining key information that can later be used to convert prospects into buying customers.
The good news is your team members who don’t already have this skill can take steps to improve their active listening skills before your next trade show.
No one wants to come face-to-face with an overly aggressive salesperson at a trade show booth. Instead, you have to balance being assertive with being personable. Prioritize conversations and relationship building over closing a sale or no one will want to talk to you (and word will quickly spread to others that they should avoid your booth).
Few people work at a trade show booth for the first time and excel. Like most skills, successfully working at a trade show exhibit takes skill, but with practice and experience, the necessary skills will improve.
Originally published 4/27/23. Updated 10/19/23.