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Getting your booth staff ready for their close-up

Hello, class. Today’s lesson is about getting the best out of your booth staffers. These are the people that are on their feet the whole day, qualifying leads, handing out marketing materials and explaining your products and services. They’re the first impression people get when they stop by your space, they’re the first smile and handshake. In essence, these people are the wind beneath your wings.

Happy booth staffers do nothing but make you and your organization look good, so let’s talk about how to make the stars of your show shine as bright as they can.

The first step is to choose your booth staff wisely. These people need to be your heavy hitters. The coach of the New England Patriots wouldn’t go to the Super Bowl without Tom Brady in the starting lineup, and you shouldn’t send your second string players into this game either.

Evaluate the strengths of your staff and assign teams. You’ll want someone who is very knowledgeable about your products and services. Also, choose someone with high energy who can use their enthusiasm to get people excited. Have a great salesperson on your team? They should be there too. Make sure you have enough booth staffers so they can work in shifts and not get burnt out by the end of the day. Even the most enthusiastic booth staffer is going to have aching feet and an aching jaw from standing and smiling for eight hours straight.

Once you’ve assembled your cast, it’s time for rehearsals. Take the time to be sure that everyone understands what their role is. Explaining to each one why they were chosen to play their part might help motivate them as well. If you tell a staffer that they were specifically chosen because of their impressive knowledge of your company, don’t you think they would want to prove you right?

Take the time to discuss with the group what is expected of them during their shift. This includes not only general and probably obvious points, but also what they should be doing to maximize the success of the show. Role playing is a great way to train them and to ensure that their face time with potential customers is best used. If you have any seasoned booth staffers who already know the drill, that’s great! Their participation in the role playing exercise can help to train the ones with less experience. Positive reinforcement will keep everyone feeling important and will always bring out the best in your staff.

So now you’ve chosen a great staff and given them tools to put on a great performance, but even Hollywood’s best and brightest A-listers have had their stumbles. Let’s take a moment to discuss “booth crimes” and how to avoid them. Booth crimes can be anything from leaving the booth unattended, eating or drinking while on duty or using their cell phones while at the booth.

You can make this fun by offering a small prize to any of your staffers that go the length of the entire show without once breaking a booth crime rule. A simple gift certificate for a nice lunch back in your home city is a small price to pay to ensure your booth staff shines while on the trade show stage.

But let’s talk about what happens when the curtain closes. Remind your group that even when the booth shuts down for the night, the show is still on. You still expect them to network at dinners and strike up conversations at evening networking parties. Some of your staff may be shy about approaching people in this less formal atmosphere, so arm them with some good conversation starters that they can use when they’re thrown into the crowd.

Remind them that everyone is there to meet and greet others, so it’s perfectly natural for them to ask people where they work, what their company does and what they enjoy most about their job. People love to talk about themselves, and even your most timid staff member might find themselves having fun. Make sure they understand that some of the strongest leads may come after the close of the show each day.

Evaluate your current staff. Which ones would you send to an event if you had one planned for next month? Who’s got the most engaging personality? Who’s your best salesperson? Who knows your products and services the best? Do you have enough of these personality types to assemble teams?

Create a networking plan that outlines what you hope your staff members to accomplish when they are face-to-face with potential customers. What are the key messages you want those people to walk away with?

About Linda Musgrove, the TradeShow Teacher
Linda Musgrove is President of the Trade Show Training firm, TradeShow Teacher. She focuses on teaching companies to significantly improve Trade Show Results through strategic, customized Trade Show Training for individuals, departments or entire teams. Musgrove also presents customized training programs for Trade Show Producers to offer exhibitors. Most recently she authored “The Complete Idiots Guide to Trade Shows”, published by Alpha Books/Penguin Publishing. Learn more at http://www.tsteacher.com and sign up for the FREE monthly Trade Show Tactics newsletter. Follow on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/tsteacher. Send an invite to connect on LinkedIn (email is: linda@tsteacher.com)

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