The importance of the trade show coffee machine

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Posted by , 21st May 2019

What are the qualities of a strong and efficient stand manager? Annette Tarlton knows them well and highlights them in this post from Exhibitors Only

The Microsoft stand team about to briefed before the opening of bett 2019 

The stand is ready, the product is on show. All have been carefully chosen.

But, and it’s a big but, have you trained your events team, whether they be in sales, marketing or technical to now take over and make this a successful event?

Can you trust your colleagues to carry out the objectives that have been set?

And, of course, it doesn’t stop there…

Activities after the event are even more important if you are to achieve the vision that has been set.

If you can’t trust your team then who is to blame?

Managing a stand is the same as managing a business.

Have a clear vision of your business goals, put the right people in place to implement that vision and communicate the plan to the whole team. Keep your eye on the fundamentals and make sure they are managed to the letter. 

This philosophy is even more important when you are exhibiting.

That’s because there is a very short, finite time to achieve the goals that have been set for an event.

The average show these days is open for just one or two days.

Opportunities to meet those all-important new clients come only when they actually step onto the stand or are “intercepted” in the aisle.

That’s why preparation and briefing of your team are so important to your event success.

Playing the blame game after a show is just too late

Recriminations after an event will not build sales.

It won’t matter then whether marketing or sales had done enough pre-show promotion.

Or, if the stand sales team had actually come off their phones and engaged potential customers in the aisle as well as on the stand.

Or, if the technical team had produced the right demos and they had worked!

By then it’s all going to be painfully irrelevant.

To avoid this scenario ensure that your events team are motivated to fulfill the established objectives before they get anywhere near the event or your stand.

All your plans for nought…

Months of planning and hard work can all be lost in those precious 2 or 3 days if the show team is not managed effectively.

Each member needs to have a clear picture of why they are there and what they are expected to so.

Yes, achieving sales is usually the ultimate goal, but here’s the thing…

The path to those sales normally lies in the hands of a few key salespeople and they, great as they are, cannot possibly talk to all of the visitors coming onto a stand.

That’s why everyone in your event team needs to understand their role and be willing and able to perform it.

The qualities of the ideal stand manager 

Choosing a strong stand manager is not obvious.

In my experience, it should not be the sales director/manager as they will be busy selling.

The person chosen must be confident enough to direct the team and diplomatic enough to maintain morale on the stand.

Believe me, nobody wants to come onto a stand where people are not smiling!

And of course, plans must be put in place to make the most of show sales time.

That includes the management of impressing new business visitors and growing revenue with current clients by showing them new products and services.

This brief applies to every member of the event team. 

Beware the current customer! Love the current customer!

Hard-won business can be lost if the right care and attention is not paid to current customers.

Essentially when the focus at a show is on finding new business and put another way that means finding riskier, unknown new clients… you can risk alienating the people who are currently paying you.

It is well known that retaining a current client is much cheaper than finding a new one.

However, expensive stands need new clients!

So, salespeople have to be veered towards generating new business and what I call the back-up team must know how to make current, key clients feel valued and cared for. 

The truth is that new business cannot be found if a sales person’s time is taken up by their inherent need to answer every phone call from their current clients.

It won’t happen either if they “chat” with existing clients on the stand and don’t keep their focus on the opportunity to grow the current contract.

Salespeople can be insecure about their clients. They have a fear (quite rightly) of losing them.

So the salespeople on your team must have confidence that during an event, their current revenue streams are protected.

They will then feel confident about searching out the next area of profit.

And that is where the coffee machine comes into its own!

Current customers who arrive on your stand at a show always want to talk to their “key” man or woman.

The problem is they are usually busy or should be, working elsewhere on the stand seeking out those new sales.

Coffee and refreshments should be offered with small talk while it is determined who can talk to that client while they wait.

A Director title always helps in this situation.

Or, you could introduce the technical whiz who has helped put the solution together.

Whoever has this role in your back-up team needs to present a confident smile, an apology and a good cup of coffee!

It’s a small cost but a big ingredient in ensuring happy salespeople; happy customers and an excellent result for your business every time you exhibit.

Annette Tarlton of Atco Marketing an events expert who contributes to Exhibitors Only

About the Author

Annette Tarlton has been a hands-on, 25 year plus marketing director organising exhibition stands of all sizes across Europe.

From the ubiquitous 8 day, CeBIT with 2 storey stands to 6m x 3m self-builds in Dubai for a multinational POS printer manufacturer.

Despite running an international marketing team, Annette is an unusual hands-on senior level marketer with an eye for practical necessary details.  She runs her own successful consultancy, ATCO Marketing Ltd.

Annette can be contacted via LinkedIn. 

Posted in Stand Management  /  Trade show advice  /  Trade show engagement  /  Trade show marketing

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