Mike Duseberg in action attracting attendees to his client’s stand
I know there are many, many blog posts out there about the importance of training your stand staff.
Maybe you’ve read some of these. Perhaps you’ve written one too!
The reason this subject gets so much coverage is… because it’s so important to successful exhibiting.
What should you train your team to do?
Just about every stand manager has experienced their team initiating the “impromptu sales conference.”
This occurs when stand staff huddle together at the back of a stand and seemingly ignore all the show visitors.
If you want to build relationships and sell things after the show, there are only two things they should be doing all day long.
1. Answer questions
The biggest myth about trade show prospecting is the notion that someone will come onto your stand who really doesn’t know what you sell or why they should work with you.
The truth is that if someone doesn’t know what you sell or why they should work with you, they just ignore your stand and keep walking.
So the people you and your team meet, usually want information:
- Visitors have stopped to look at your stand attraction
- They want to know how they can get the results described in your presentation
- Or, they have the problem your product solves and they want to learn more
- Perhaps they use your product and have a question about a problem they’re experiencing
- Or, they use your competitor’s product and have a question about the results they’d get from your product
- They want to see your product demonstrated or touch the product you have in the booth
So, your stand team should be able to answer those questions and others like it.
There are a lot of different ways you can do this:
- One-on-one conversations to answer their specific questions
- Stand demonstrations and lectures with a Q&A afterward
- Stand “tours” where staff explain different products and how they work together
Your sales representatives are experts in your field.
Let them invest time in answering questions, solving problems, and offering advice.
Let them listen to your prospect’s challenges. It’s a really effective use of their time.
By doing this, they are building relationships that will turn into sales conversations after the event.
2. Scheduling follow-ups
Answering questions and offering solutions will create a powerful connection between the prospect and the booth staff.
People appreciate being heard.
They also really appreciate people and businesses that can remove pain.
But simply being seen and consulted isn’t enough.
The conversation has to continue after the show if it’s going to work towards or into a sale.
Your sales team should finish every conversation with a promise to follow up after the show.
They should also request the contact details of the people they meet.
- Specific questions require a firm promise to follow up with a phone call or email
- Ideally with a date and time to do so
- If a demonstration at their facility has been requested, schedule it at the show
- Where advice has been offered, promise to follow-up to see if the solution worked
- If you are sending information, promise to make sure it answers the questions that have been raised
- Where a proposal or price information is requested, let the visitor know when they should expect to receive it
Create the “next steps” in the sales process
All of the actions described above create a “next step” in the sales process.
What is often overlooked is this next step is something that show visitors actually want and look forward to.
That’s because that next step will in the visitor’s eye take them a step closer to solving a particular problem or issue.
Salespeople are welcomed when they are seen as helpful experts who can solve problems.
For this approach to work, your prospective client must believe you will follow-through on the next action that has been promised.
To encourage this buyer confidence…
- Use a cloud-based calendar to quickly schedule appointments during a show
- Send calendar requests to your visitors and ask them to confirm then and there
- Openly record conversations in your CRM – this way the client knows you will follow-up
- Where possible, send digital information immediately
- If a colleague will be making the follow-up up call or visit, introduce them to your prospective client
- Alternatively, if your colleague is not present at the show, let your visitor know who will be contacting them
- Give your stand visitors a “thank you” gift to remember the interaction
Don’t mess-up the follow-up
Failure to follow through on the followup reverses all the goodwill and authority you’ve built at a show.
Having a next step process in place tells the client that a solution will be forthcoming.
In their mind, this problem “is going to be solved.”
This frees-up their mind. They can then start focusing on other problems.
For your stand sales team, this approach to working on a stand has several important advantages.
- By offering a general answer to a problem and promising a personalized follow-up post-show, they can speak with many visitors
- They can schedule follow up meetings while at an event – this is highly time-effective
- Prospective clients feel like they are on the road to a real solution
- It’s therefore not necessary to visit a competitor’s booth for more information about the same problem – you remove the competition
- By following up on their “specific needs” after the show, your sales team can avoid discussing price and getting into bidding wars during an event
Everything in its place
Your sales staff really are the stars of your stand if you train them to be so and if you let them be so.
They are the experts who have the answers your prospects really need.
This means that they are the closers and rainmakers that bring in the revenue your company needs.
By letting a sales team focus on answering questions and setting appointments, you’re using their skills to your advantage.
About the Author
Mike Duseberg is dedicated to helping exhibitors connect with more qualified prospects and is fascinated by measurable, accountable, and profitable trade show marketing.
You can download Mike’s new guide to trade show marketing – The Little Booklet that Transforms Your Trade Show Booth into a Lead Generating Machine @ TradeShowFunnel.com