A Trade show is a wonderful way to market your business.
They allow you to connect with potential buyers and turn them into lifelong clients.
They let you demonstrate the benefits of your product or service in an entertaining and engaging way. They can open up new markets so you can grow your business faster than ever before.
Unfortunately, many businesses miss out on these benefits.
They end up spending huge sums of money on trade shows, which they can never recover.
Events become a loss-maker instead of an investment and everyone feels disappointed and frustrated by the results.
Of course, there are many reasons that trade show displays fail.
But after more than 49 combined years in the industry, our team has found one of the biggest problems is that staff let owners down.
That’s why in this article, you will discover 6 common ways that staff harm your business at trade shows and how to fix them:
1. Poor Social Skills at a Trade Show
Success at trade shows is all about building relationships.
If your staff are shy or socially awkward, they will struggle to connect with potential clients and promote your brand.
The solution is to train staff and help them to improve their social skills
Teach them simple conversation tips. Improve their confidence. Show them how to approach and engage with people in a friendly and enthusiastic way.
An even worse situation is when staff act immature and badly.
In one story I heard, staff at a trade show went out for a few drinks on the first night.
Things got a little out of control, everyone drank too much, and one of the female staff was filmed by a competitor exposing herself while wearing the business uniform…
Not exactly the type of publicity a business wants.
To engage with potential customers at a trade show, you need to make your booth as welcoming as possible.
If your staff are chatting on their phones, checking Facebook or talking to each other, potential clients will feel awkward about interrupting. They will avoid your booth and you will miss the sale.
That’s why it’s so important to emphasise to your staff that potential customers are always the number one priority.
Of course, this is not the only way trade show booths are unapproachable.
For example, one of our clients had a display that was completely walled off except for two small entrances.
This layout was necessary to engage potential clients, but it was making the space almost unapproachable.
To solve the problem, the client did a lot of pre show promotion with advertising, email, social event invites, they generated so much excitement pre show that once on the stand people spent time looking talking and buying.
The strategy was so successful that the company actually ran out of paper for new contracts… and had to turn clients away.
3. Not Thinking About The Follow-Up
I always laugh at those trade shows where businesses use bizarre, unrelated gimmicks to get the attention of poorly qualified leads.
For example, one booth I know of had a scantily clad shoe-shine girl who moaned loudly while she polished shoes.
The weird thing was that the company wasn’t selling anything to do with footwear.
While she certainly got a lot of attention, imagine the poor salesman trying to convert these leads after the show.
Look, getting the contact details of someone at a show is fine, but it is only the first step.
If your staff don’t get good leads who want to be followed up, then all that effort was a waste of time.
4. Fear of rejection
At one stage or another, almost everybody has suffered from this fear.
Whether it’s feeling shy about talking to someone you like, or losing a life-changing opportunity because you don’t think you are good enough.
It’s human nature!
So you must accept that whether you like it or not, your staff will suffer from it on some level too.
This is frustrating because it can prevent otherwise excellent people from addressing and engaging with potential clients, which in turn leads to missed opportunities and lost sales.
So what can you do?
The first step is to teach them that rejection at trade shows is inevitable. The second step is to teach them how to overcome the fear of rejection.
A great way to do this is by role playing before the trade show. Pretend you are a difficult customer and get staff to approach you.
This experience will be invaluable at the actual event.
5. Focusing too much on selling
Picture two different scenarios…
In one, you are in a store. A pushy employee walks over and starts talking to you.
They pretend that they want to help, but you feel uncomfortable. You get the nagging sensation that all they want is your money.
It’s immediately makes you want to leave without buying anything.
In the second scenario, an employee asks you if you need help.
They listen carefully to your problem. They ask questions. They seem to be genuinely interested in finding the best solution for your needs.
You leave the store a few minutes later, new purchase in hand and a big smile on your face.
It’s a simple fact of life that nobody likes to be sold to. Yet, trade show staff often sees themselves as salespeople.
This can make potential clients feel uncomfortable and pushed.
That’s why it’s so important to teach staff that trade shows are not about selling.
They are about engaging with people, solving problems and building trust just like the second scenario mentioned above.
When your employees do that, the sales will naturally follow.
6. Lack of practice and planning
If your staff are unsure about how to organise and run the trade show, it can spell disaster for all involved.
The old saying that ‘practice makes perfect’ has never been truer.
Staff who practice what they will say and how they will act to potential clients are much more effective.
They can explain the benefits of your product or service better. They can answer questions comfortably. Their knowledge on the subject builds trust, which is vital to make the sale.
Encourage your staff to regularly practice what they will say at trade shows and how they will answer common questions.
Also, develop a plan, so they know exactly what their role is…
One company I heard about, were holding a trade show overseas. They had assigned staff to handle the transport and to make sure that the display arrived on time.
Everything seemed like it was going well until on the big day, the display didn’t turn up.
The staff had messed up and it was stuck in customs.
With no other option, they crew had to set up a table display and meekly hand out flyers to passers by while their competitors looked on smirking.
As you can see, if you are really serious about increasing your return on investment from trade shows, then avoiding these six common staff problems is the key.
Well-trained staff can attract more clients, build your brand and optimise your conversion rates. So it is certainly worth the time and effort.
If you would like to discover how to reduce your trade show costs, improve your visibility and presence, and get a better return on investment from trade shows, then download our free report 7 Things You Must Know Before Hiring An Exhibition Company For Your Next Trade Show.
This report is based on over 49 years combined experience helping businesses get more leads from trade shows.