At a trade show, company image is reflected in booth design but depends to a large extent on your employees.
The quality of the people you choose to man your booths will determine the degree of its effectiveness. To casual passersby and influential prospects alike, these employees are your company.
Employee dress and demeanor are integral to your image. If workers are sloppily or inappropriately dressed, arrogant, condescending, and chatting among themselves, it will reflect immediately and directly on the company as a whole.
You have to formulate a company image that you maintain at every level of interaction with the public. At a trade show, your public will include casual customers, as well as influential industry buyers and reps. This is no time to compromise an image through hurried or poor selection of personnel. When selecting personnel, be sure that they work well under pressure. Even the most qualified sales reps are accustomed to visiting with prospects one-on-one in an office environment, rather than dealing with hordes of curious passersby in a noisy convention hall.
If you’ve properly designed and manned your booth, calculating your space as recommended in this chapter, you’ll have enough reps to deal with customers.
When reps have to leave the booth for one reason or another, leaving a skeleton crew to work during an unexpectedly busy period, pressure can take its toll, perhaps just at the moment a valued prospect drops by.
One rude answer or a surly look and that person is gone – probably for good, and without your knowledge. It’s important that you choose employees with your company image in mind, selecting positive, friendly workers and emphasising that the customer, after all, is the reason they are there.
Before the show, hold a personnel meeting at which company goals – in numbers – are discussed. Be specific and assign objectives to each worker, perhaps outlining the percentage of those goals that they should achieve each day.
You could initiate role-playing sessions in which employees rehearse their handling of prospects. If applicable, hold daily meetings before or after the show, using a reward system for employees that meet or exceed assigned goals.
People working the booth should be able to tell qualified prospects from curious passersby, politely answering questions of passersby without giving them lengthy explanations while a qualified prospect stands waiting three feet away.
Workers should be trained to quickly advance a sale when speaking with a prospect. Press releases and other promotional materials should also be available as handouts. Manning a booth at a trade show can be tedious, so plan workers’ shifts so that they have enough time to take an occasional short break, and take in some of the show.
When planning shifts, try to give workers a choice of hours, but also ask that your best employees work during the peak business periods. Try to group compatible employees together. If you’ve properly narrowed down your selection of workers, fraternisation while working the booth shouldn’t be a problem. Simply stress that while they’re on duty, they must be ready to greet customers at all times.