Trade show booth staffers face one of the most difficult selling environments possible. First off, they are dealing with thousands of mysterious attendees who may or may not have heard of your brand. Secondly, these prospects fly by at a fast rate. This can lead to a polarizing trade show environment that is overwhelming to the inexperienced.

With traditional sales calls, the seller will likely know some information about the lead: who they are, what products they’re interested in, etc. The trade show is different — every conversation begins completely “cold” and your staff must quickly gauge the attendees’ sentiment.

Hiring experienced booth staffers is only part of the equation. It’s also crucial to provide effective training that is unique to your company’s objectives and expectations. Your staff should have a deep understanding of how to break that invisible wall around your exhibit, and you should provide tools and concepts to support them.

Here are a few tips for booth staff training:

Simplify Training

Keep your expectations and guidelines simple by narrowing it down to four or five of your most important objectives. If you hand your staffers an endless list of do’s and don’ts, they’ll likely experience paralysis by analysis and feel overwhelmed.

By providing an easily digestible list of objectives, they’ll be more able to remain level-headed and focused. Your training should make your staff feel comfortable and confident, providing simple concepts and tools they can put into action during the show.

No Boredom Allowed

Everything your booth staff does will communicate something about your brand. This applies to facial expressions, body language, and signs of distraction. Even when your booth activity is at its lowest point of the day, your booth staff should remain engaged and enthusiastic. You never know when an attendee is glancing at your booth from across the expo floor.

When training your staff on expectations, goals, and company knowledge, give them the time and space to practice these principles. Before the event begins, host a meeting where staffers can rehearse your company’s pitches, product

demonstrations, and overall behavioral expectations. By giving them an opportunity to warm up, they’ll feel more comfortable out on the floor.

In-the-moment Coaching

In the first hours of the exhibition, pay close attention to your booth staff and provide real-time feedback. Your staff shouldn’t feel stressed by your observation — rather, your coaching should provide context and encouragement. If you notice a staffer making a routine mistake or appearing confused, quietly take them aside and provide some in-the-moment coaching. Your advice should alleviate stress and describe valuable tools
that they can employ then and there.

If you want to take your coaching and training a step further, hire a professional trade show marketing company to “audit” your staff. In this scenario, an expert booth staffer would interact with your staff while pretending to be an attendee (think “secret-shopper”, so to speak). By interacting with your staff through the eyes of an attendee, a third-party marketing company can provide you with invaluable feedback about how your staff is performing. This results in an unbiased report filled with critiques, recommendations, and praise — all of which gives you a realistic picture of your staff’s performance and the ways you can improve.