8 Essential Trade Show Booth Staffing Skills

You can exhibit at trade show filled with your best prospects, design a compelling display, host fun trade show games, but without capable trade show booth staffing, all is for naught.

To the throng of potential buyers who walk by and into your booth, your staffers are the face of your company. Your booth staffers must perform a wide variety of trade show activities well. If they can’t handle it, your whole company suffers in lost future business.

So, what must your booth staffers do well? For starters, avoid these 10 awful trade show activities.  Here are 8 essential trade show booth staffing skills they must master for your trade show success:

1. Keep Focused On The Job

The trade show floor can be both overwhelming and boring, and neither are good for A.D.H.D. booth staffers. Staffers can get distracted by their fellow staffers, the attractions of the show city, and the dinging smartphone in their pocket. Focused trade show booth staffers keep their eyes on attendees in the aisle. They avoid overindulging in late nights while away from home. They attend to attendees during show hours, rather than sneak in work for their usual day job. They are present and ready to go before the show opens. They understand the value and investment of exhibiting, and remain responsible for delivering leads.

2. Start Conversations With Attendees

One of the hardest skills for trade show booth staffing is to attract unknown attendees into the booth and into a conversation. This skill is simply foreign territory for most people. It feels awkward at best, and scary at worst. Good booth staffers can comfortably start a dialog with people as they enter the booth. Great booth staffers can stop an attendee walking by your booth and pull them into a meaningful discussion. This is perhaps the most obvious difficult skill to master, yet other, less visible activities on this list are equally important.

3. Empathize With Visitors

Face-to-face marketing works because it’s the rare opportunity for too-busy buyers and sellers to meet in person. Buyers want to see if exhibitors’ employees are people they want to do business with.  So, be a person worthy of their business. Keep in mind that visitors are likely tired from travel and sleeping in a bed they’re not used to.  They are also anxious to find out what they came for in the limited time they have. Be a good host. Do they need food or drink? Do they need to sit down?  Genuinely care about helping them solve their problems. Only offer up your potential solutions if you truly believe you’re a good match. Or, if you aren’t, tell them who you think would fit their needs. You’ll gain their trust.

4. Present Your Story Well

Booth visitors want to see many exhibitors besides you. That means your booth staffers have to be concise.  They don’t have time to tell your entire story. So, they present only the part about your company story that is most relevant to each visitor. Share only what matters about your positioning, your relevant advantages, your most similar case studies, and your best-fit products. Staffers thus need to know your product line, your industry, your client’s industries.  And, be able to communicate well with prospects and clients.  Plus, use any presentation tech or props provided in and on your booth.

5. Demo Your Products Smoothly

This is a particularly valuable skill for trade show booth staffing.  Buyers could buy your products online, but are reluctant with larger B2B purchases. Undecided B2B buyers want to see in real life your people and your products – especially your new products. Thus, prospects come by the hundreds into your booth. Your product demo needs to instill confidence, not turn them off. That’s why your booth staffers have to be able to smoothly demo your products, showing how they work, what their advantages are, and how well they are made. This takes hard work to make it look easy.

6. Use Time Wisely

Booth staffers have to find the balance on time spent with each visitor. On one hand, there are a lot of people in the aisles, so keep conversations shorter to get to the next potential prospect. But on the other hand, booth staffers that rush the dialog will offend visitors. Just remember the goal is not to get the biggest pile of business cards, but to get the highest number of qualified leads.  Stay attentive to worthy prospects until you’ve agreed upon next steps for after the show. If they’re not worthy, politely (empathy!) thank them for their visit, then take a step back. Once they leave, go on to the next visitor. Your staffers can also take longer with each prospect when traffic is slow, as long as at least one staffer is free to greet the next visitor.

7. Capture Lead Data

It can be exciting to have a mob of interested visitors crowding your booth. Yet, if your booth staffers don’t capture a record of each interaction, all that potential value evaporates. Aim for complete, accurate, and useful lead data. And not just the visitors’ contact data – they need more than mere business card information. They need to record on paper or electronically info that qualifies each lead.  That means ranking the lead (as hot, warm, or cold), recording product purchase interest, time frame, company or budget size, and next steps. Finally, write any notes that will help the sales rep better understand the prospects’ needs. Because complete trade show lead capture increases lead follow-up.

8. Keep Your Booth Neat

Your booth is like a temporary office that represents your company brand. To uphold your corporate image requires occasional decluttering. Without vigilance, tables and counters attract abandoned water bottles, coffee cups, and discarded brochures like magnets. Promotional products get scattered. Garbage overflows trash cans. So, while your booth staffers didn’t sign up to be busboys, that’s one of the trade show skills they require. Encourage them to occasionally walk through the booth with a critical eye. Help them find their inner Marie Kondo, and find joy in a neat booth. Your company will attract visitors better.

Your booth staffers are the keystone to your trade show success. They must master these activities. And they need to do all these activities well. Otherwise, they are like a tippy table with one leg too short. They make look good at first glance, but the gap in their skills will be very apparent to potential trade show leads.

Help your staffers to succeed. Choose potential staffers who have most of these 8 skills already and can be taught the rest. And then train them. Set expectations and hold them accountable.  Monitor and coach them during the show. The payoff in significantly improved trade show results is worth it.

Another valuable skill your staffers do is be a good host with your in-booth games and contests. If you’d like to see how you can drive more booth traffic, keep attendees engaged longer, and capture leads with our fun interactive trade show games, feel free to contact us with questions or to discuss your event with one of SocialPoint’s Digital Strategists. We’ll help you generate a serious increase in excitement, crowds, and leads.

Written by

Samuel J. Smith is a thought leader, researcher, speaker and award winning innovator on event technology. In 2011, BizBash Magazine added Sam to its annual innovators list. Since then, Sam has won awards from Exhibitor Magazine, IBTM World, RSVP MN, International Live Events Association and MPI for innovation in event technology.