So it’s your first time representing your
business at a trade show or exhibition. While exhibiting for the first time can
be nerve-racking, it doesn’t need to be.
Exhibitions are incredibly rewarding experiences through which you can meet new people, have interesting conversations and hopefully collect some fantastic new contacts for your business.
To make the most of your exhibition, you will need to properly prepare and work effectively with your team to project the best possible image of your business. With this in mind, below are some top tips for first time exhibition stand staff.
One of the biggest mistakes first time exhibition stand staff can make is not preparing thoroughly. “Figuring it out on the day” might work for some, but the best exhibitors know that preparation is key.
This is not only preparing your exhibition stand and supporting materials but also ensuring you’ve practised your pitch, know your products and services and can confidently answer any questions visitors might have. A well-practised pitch is particularly vital for less experienced staff.
Different members of your team will have different levels of knowledge and experience, but everyone should at least be able to hold a sustained conversation and effectively promote the business to potential leads.
Take advantage of any training you are offered and ensure that you fully understand your business objectives for the event, as this will have a significant impact on how you interact with visitors.
How you dress will have a big impact on visitors’ perceptions of you and your business.
What is appropriate will vary based on your brand, event, objectives and target audience. For business-to-business networking events, business attire is typically most appropriate, however, many trade shows have an informal atmosphere where business attire might look out of place. In any case, ensure that your attire is appropriate for the event and consistent with how you want to portray your business.
Also, be sure to wear your nametag at all times. Unless you have a branded uniform, your nametag will be the only way for visitors to know what company you are with and, if they don’t know who you are, visitors are unlikely to speak to you.
Distraction is the enemy of opportunity. Avoid using your mobile phone on the stand, as well as eating, drinking, smoking, vaping or having in-depth conversations with other staff members.
Visitors are unlikely to approach staff who seem preoccupied, which could mean a lot of missed opportunities. It can also appear rude and standoffish, which is not an association you want for your business.
Network on and off your stand
Something that surprises a lot of first time exhibition stand staff is that networking opportunities can arise anywhere and at any time.
Workshops, panels, lunchrooms and even other stands can all provide opportunities for networking with potential leads, so keep your game face on.
Keep in mind that off-stand interactions will flow differently to those on your stand so be prepared to think on your feet. Keep any off-stand networking subtle and only offer to connect if there’s a benefit to both sides.
Watch your body language
Body language is an enormous contributor to how people perceive you, so be mindful of the message that your body language gives off. Some basic tips for making a positive impression with your body language are
Be strategic with your interactions
In your first experience as exhibition stand staff you’ll interact with hundreds of potential leads. You never really know who you might meet so it's important to stick to some basic principles.
Be friendly and approachable – You’d be surprised how many exhibition stand staff look and act as though they’d rather be anywhere else, particularly during the tail-end of an event. Remember that each interaction you have could be a visitor’s first contact with your business, so it’s vital to provide the best possible first impression.
Don’t be pushy – If there’s one thing that sours a relationship with a potential customer it’s a pushy sales person. Keeping interactions light will not only improve the flow of conversation but will also naturally weed out visitors who are not actually interested in your products and services.
Qualify leads – When exhibiting you should constantly qualify leads, so you don’t waste time on those that are unlikely to convert. You need to be able to determine how “hot” each lead is and then decide how much time to spend with him or her. Exhibitions offer a continual flow of potential contacts, so every second you spend with a cold lead is time that hot leads could be walking right past your stand.
Having said that, just because a visitor isn’t a hot lead today, doesn’t mean he or she never will be, so make sure you’re polite and helpful to everyone. You never know who might get in contact in the future.
Remember a personal detail – Try to remember something unique and personal about each visitor you speak with, then reference it during your follow-up. Perhaps an individual has a dog, or a cat, or an interest in classic cars, or a daughter who recently started university. Remembering and recounting these small details shows your lead that you value him or her as a person, which can be the foundation of a strong customer relationship.
The keys to success for first time exhibition stand staff include thorough preparation, appropriate attire, a strategic approach and unwavering professionalism. From mastering your pitch to strategic networking and maintaining positive body language, these tips will help make a lasting impression on your stand visitors and potential leads.
Utilising these tips and tricks you not only enhance the immediate impact of your exhibition but also turn every interaction into a valuable opportunity for your business and lay the groundwork for future customer relationships.
About the Author
Carl Garner-Watts is the lead Marketing Content Creator for exhibition stand design and build contractor Quadrant2Design. He has a wealth of exhibition, digital marketing and business experience, across various industries including events, facilities management, finance, property and venue marketing.