Trade Show Staffing Tips: How to Find and Train Your Exhibit Team

Trade shows are an excellent platform for companies when they want to engage with potential clients, showcase their new products, and fortify their brand presence. There are several factors that go into a successful trade show appearance, and many articles have been written about how to attract attendees and the need to create eye-catching booths. Suggestions often focus on the visual aspects of your booth, such as signage and lighting, or creating engaging displays that can leave a lasting impression. In this article, however, we’ll look at the role of your exhibit team in making a successful trade show appearance.

The Importance of Having the Right Staff for Your Trade Show Exhibit

Trade shows can be busy, high-energy environments where attendees are constantly being bombarded by the booths and displays trying to win their attention. Having the right setup that stands out from the crowd is vital, but that is only the first impression. The lasting impact will come from your products and the staff who are representing you as the face of your company. Your booth staff will play a major role in not only drawing visitors, but also converting them into the leads you are looking for. They are an indispensable part of your exhibit, and how well they do their job will help determine if you reach your goals.  

How Well-Trained Staff Help Determine the Success of Your Exhibit

Your booth should have competent and professional staff who can effectively engage with attendees, answering their questions, building connections, and acting as an ambassador of your brand. The right staff will be capable of lead generation, increasing your exposure, and increasing your return on investment. If they are not properly trained, or are unable or unwilling to engage others, they may serve the opposite effect of what you are hoping for, actively deterring potential clients. When this happens, your exhibit is certain to under perform.

When preparing for your trade show appearance, don’t overlook the importance of hiring the right staff to represent you.

Pre-Planning for Success

Every truly successful endeavour begins with planning. This is what allows you to create a solid foundation to meet your objectives. Take this time to determine your exhibit’s goals and target audience, along with your staffing requirements.

  • Goals and Objectives

What are you hoping to accomplish with your exhibit? Is your primary goal to generate new leads? Perhaps you are launching a new product or seeking greater brand exposure. It might be any combination of these and more. 

You should also have an understanding of your ideal customer. Who are they and how do you attract their attention? What are their pain points and how can you meet their needs? 

Having a goal firmly in mind along with a good understanding of your ideal customer will help you make better decisions when selecting staff for your exhibit.  

Determining Staff Requirements

To help you assess the optimal number of staff for your exhibit, consider the size of your booth, the anticipated foot traffic, and the level of engagement that you hope to achieve. It is something of a balancing act, as being overstaffed can prove costly, but being understaffed can cost just as much in missed opportunities. 

What are the roles that you need filled in your booth? You will need sales representatives, and having product experts will also be to your advantage. Do you want to have a dedicated greeter? Will you have a special presenter perform demonstrations? 

It may be tempting to think that an individual can play any of these roles, or even several at once, but there are different skill sets involved in each. In many cases, you will be much better served by having staff members that each has their own strength, rather than having a few individuals splitting their focus across multiple roles.

Budgeting for Staff Recruitment and Training

With a firm idea of the type and number of staff you are going to need, you will have some insight into the budget you will need to allocate. Depending on your current situation, you may need to hire additional staff and invest in training, though this can provide you with an excellent return on investment over time. 

How to Find the Right Staff for Your Trade Show Booth

Once you have a clear view of what you want and need, it’s time to begin the process of locating and engaging the right staff. One of the first decisions you will have to make is whether you want to look internally or externally. 

Choosing to use existing staff has some advantages. As current employees, they may already have the appropriate skills and knowledge you require. Additionally, they will already be familiar with your products, services, and company culture. 

On the other hand, if you choose to hire externally, you can gain a fresh perspective and you can hire someone with specialized skills. You may also find other advantages such as hiring a known and respected presenter, perhaps enhancing your credibility. External hires can also focus exclusively on the trade show, rather than simply adding this new responsibility to their existing work.

Creating a Job Description and List of Qualifications for Hiring

Having a clear job description that outlines the duties to be performed and the associated requirements will help potential candidates understand exactly what you are looking for and what is necessary to perform the job correctly. The job description should clearly detail the qualifications and skills that are necessary for each role, such as a certain amount of experience in that role, industry experience, or the ability to work under pressure.

Recruiting Methods

To find candidates for hiring, there are a few options that you could consider, such as: 

  • Online Advertising

Many, if not most job seekers will look online before any other option, so you should consider posting on your company website, reputable job boards, or even on social media, targeting specific keywords to attract the best prospects.

  • Staffing Agencies

You can also try working with a staffing agency, particularly one that specializes in, or has experience with trade shows.

  • Networking

You likely have contacts in your industry that you can leverage to help locate candidates. You might also wish to attend networking events where you can connect with a large number of prospects.

Interviewing Your Candidates

Potential hires may look great on paper but turn out to not be an ideal match. Conducting an effective interview helps to ensure that you find the right staff for your needs. This means asking the right questions to assess their skills and experience, but also whether they are a suitable match for your company culture. Situational and behavioural questions will give you insight into how they will interact with trade show attendees. 

Remember that while skills and knowledge can be learned, personality is more of an inherent trait. It is often useful to hire the personality and train the skills, rather than the other way around.

Training Your Exhibit Staff

Now that you have your staff for the trade show, you need to ensure that they are well prepared for the parts they will play. This will include several components:

  • Orientation

Your staff should receive a thorough orientation to make them familiar with your company, its history and ethics, and your goals for the exhibit. Every member of the staff should know what you expect and what their role is in achieving your mission. This will enable them to act as a proper representative for your brand.

  • Product Knowledge

If they are to adequately convey information about your products, staff will first need that knowledge themselves. Train them on your product’s features, benefits, and advantages over the competition. Your staff should be familiar enough with the products to discuss them with confidence. Consider arming them with answers to the most common questions and potential objections. 

  • Sales Training and Customer Service

Your staff should be effective communicators, but it’s worth reviewing skills such as active listening and adjusting their approach to suit the individual attendee. They should know to maintain a positive demeanor, which will allow them to create and build rapport more easily.

  • Specialized Training

As mentioned above, there are multiple roles that your staff will be filling. Everyone should be aware of their role and have the appropriate training to fulfill their duties. Review everyone’s responsibilities to avoid potential confusion during the event.

Your staff should also be trained in methods for dealing with difficult situations, such as irate attendees, technical problems, and other unforeseen occurrences. 

Providing Your Staff with the Support and Equipment They Need

We’ve been discussing what your staff need to do and the duties they will undertake, but you have responsibilities of your own, including providing the staff with the support they will require. Some of the more obvious needs will include physical materials. Staff will need promotional items and brochures, business cards, and perhaps some giveaways to encourage engagement. They will also need equipment such as laptops and tablets for use in presentations and to record data.

During the trade show, your staff should not be working in a vacuum. They should have a support system in place that can provide assistance in the form of technical support and resources that can answer their questions and troubleshoot any issues that arise. Have someone available to assist with any unforeseen circumstances.

Motivating Your Staff

Trade shows can be long and taxing, so it’s important to help keep them motivated and engaged, even as they seek to engage the attendees. Prepare a schedule that allows staff to take breaks and rest. They will need to eat and recharge their batteries if they are expected to maintain the level of intensity that brings people to your booth.

To further assist in keeping your staff motivated, consider offering incentives for meeting your goals. Recognition for meeting lead generation targets or sales objectives can encourage your staff to reach higher levels of performance. Acknowledging them publicly can also inspire the rest of the team to stay invested and drive them to excel. 

Encouraging Teamwork

It’s often said that the whole outweighs the sum of the parts. This is often true of a team that works well together. To build team rapport and encourage collaboration, you can organize team-building exercises or other events that foster unity and camaraderie. A well-organized team with all members working in harmony will be considerably more efficient and effective and will create a more positive environment that will be felt not only by staff, but also by all attendees who interact with them.

Gather Feedback and Use It to Make Improvements

Your staff should be able to offer feedback based on their experiences and the challenges they have faced. Be receptive and use this to make improvements and, if necessary, to adjust your training programs. This will enhance the overall quality of your exhibit.

Final Preparations for the Trade Show

As the date of your trade show approaches, make your final preparations to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Be sure to do each of the following:

  • Check Equipment

You don’t want to arrive at your booth and find out at the last moment that equipment is damaged or missing. Go through your list, checking that each item is accounted for and in working order.

  • Check Supplies and Other Materials

If you have giveaways or other promotional items, be sure that they are ready to go and close at hand when you need them.

  • Have a Practice Run Through

It can be helpful to have a practice run, role-playing the event to help prepare and become familiar with everyone’s roles.

  • Identify Potential Challenges and Solutions

If your role-play reveals potential issues, now is the time to brainstorm and create solutions to avoid having difficulty at the actual event.

Enjoy the Results of Your Planning

Your trade show appearance can be a great boost for your company. When you have the right staff in place and properly prepared, you maximize the chances of meeting your objectives and making a positive impact on event attendees.