Whether you are using a table top display or a 30 x 30 custom display, having the right people staff the booth will make a huge difference in how many leads, sales, and traffic received. However, just being a great salesperson is not enough to win over potential customers. Booth etiquette is equally as important as being excellent at speaking to attendees because, even if done unintentionally, there are things that you or your staff could be doing that are deterring people from even setting foot in your display. Refrain from making these 10 booth staff mistakes if you want to be a hit at your next trade show.
1. Using Your Phone or Tablet
Unless you are making a phone call back to the office for customer, keep your phone in your pocket. When attendees see you on your phone, they will get the impression that you are too busy to speak with them and will most likely move on to another booth. If you are having a problem with keeping your phone in your pocket or in a secured location at the show, then keep it in your car.
2. Booth Staffers Talking to Each Other
Trade shows can be an excellent way for your team to bond, especially since they will be spending hours together. That being said, they should save their personal conversations for a break or until the show is over. There have been a number of times where I have walked into a booth just to be ignored while the staff is busy talking about their plans for after the show is over. This shows me that they are not interested in speaking with me or anyone else that stops by their booth.
3. Eating or Drinking
The long hours spent at the trade show can make any staffer hungry or thirsty. With hundreds, possibly thousands of people in the show venue, it can get extremely warm. Taking sips of water in between speaking with potential customers will keep the staff hydrated, but any other food or drinks need to be saved for breaks. Attendees who see the staffers eating in their booth will be under the impression that the staff is on a break.
4. Bad Breath
There are going to be plenty of moments where you will be speaking with someone at a close distance, so fresh breath can make a huge difference from having someone who wants to stay and talk to you and someone who wants to end the conversation. Bringing mints to the event will help get rid of any bad breath, especially after meals or drinks, such as coffee. But whatever you do, do not chew gum in your booth. Chomping on a piece of gum as you are talking to attendees can be extremely distracting for both you and them.
5. Making Every Conversation Into a Sales Pitch
Don’t get me wrong, part of the reason exhibitors want to go to trade shows is to generate leads and customers, but trying to sell a product or service right away can taint the impression attendees have on you and your company. As each person is greeted who enters the booth, small talk is a great way to get their attention.
Ask questions about their weekend plans, the weather, and anything else that would help the attendee feel comfortable and not obligated to make a purchase. Once you have established a conversation, then you can begin asking what brought them to your booth or questions about the products.
6. Spending More Time Talking Than Listening
Potential customers want to feel like they are being heard, which will be rather difficult if the staffer is doing all of the talking. By stepping back and allowing your booth visitors to do the talking, you’ll be able to better understand what problem they are having that your product or service could fix. If possible, try to follow the 80/20 rule – listen 80% of the time and talk 20% of the time.
7. Trash Talking the Competition
One of the worst things your staff could do is to talk poorly about the competition. Instead of spending all of your time and energy on discussing all of your competitors’ flaws with potential customers, build up your own products, services, or company. Bringing negativity into the conversation will quickly ruin the relationships you could have been building with attendees.
8. Not Dressed Appropriately
If you have been to a trade show in the past, there’s probably at least one exhibitor you noticed that didn’t get the memo on how to dress for success at the event. Just because you aren’t actually in your office doesn’t mean you should dress like you would on your day off. Wearing jeans, old t-shirts, and dirty sneakers isn’t going to cut it. Depending on the type of company you have, it may make more sense to wear a suit, tie, and dress shoes, while it may be more appropriate for others to wear matching shirts with the company’s logo on them.
Keep in mind that you will be representing your company, so dressing the part is critical in order to leave the attendee with a positive impression of your business.
9. Not Collecting Lead Form
Getting leads at the booth is part of the reason exhibitors participate at trade shows in the first place. Many staffers will talk to every attendee that enters the booth, yet somehow forgets to retrieve all of their contact information on a lead form or business card to contact these prospects after the show. By forgetting this important step, all of your trade show efforts will be a waste.
10. Leaving the Event Early
This happens more times than not. Staffers start packing up their trade show booths and all other materials before the event is even over. A reason for this could be because they don’t want to miss their flight, have a great distance to drive, or simply just don’t want to be there. If you are one of the people who like to leave before closing time, you could be missing out on big leads that don’t show up to the trade show until last minute.
Once the show has ended, put one or two people in charge of taking down and packing the booth up, another for collecting all of the materials (including the lead cards), and another person to take care of any other items that will need to get put away. This will cut down on the amount of time it takes you to get ready to leave, allowing you to easily make any flight or other transportation you may need to catch.
What other mistakes have you witnessed booth staffers making?
Kristen Hove, Website Content Manager
Kristin Hovde is the Website Content Manager for Smash Hit Displays, an online trade show display company. Along with keeping the website up-to-date with all of the latest trade show booths and accessories on the market, she writes many of the blogs, as well as a wide variety of guest posts on trade show and marketing websites.
Written by: Kristin Hovde