Decisions, decisions, decisions.

If you’re planning a trade show you need to have fast and accurate decision making skills, as there are many decisions to be made.

A critical decision is this: Who of your staff will attend at the show?

All too often people manning exhibition booths don’t know what they should be doing, and probably shouldn’t be there. They’re the ones wandering around with a can of coke in hand, looking confused and avoiding potential customers. Or maybe they’re the ones down the corner of the booth deep in conversation with a kindred spirit about their personal hobby or ailment (i.e. way off topic). Or they just aren’t there – they aren’t punctual, or they’re too curious about what else is around to stand in one place all day.

We’ve seen all those types and more at trade shows. If your trade show staff are like that, you are wasting a great deal of money by being there.

Nobody’s perfect, but some people are a lot better suited to manning exhibition stalls than others.

When deciding on people to be at the show follow these guidelines if you can:

An eight hour shift is as long as people can stand. If the exhibition runs longer, overlap shifts.
If at all possible, have at least 2 people at the booth all the time, and one walking around the exhibition.
Shy people find interactions draining. There’s a time and place where introverts shine, but trade shows aren’t it.
The guy with all the tech knowledge but little in the way of interpersonal skills may be handy to have around, but be sure that he’s teamed with a great communicator to translate for him!
Keep the Leader/Follower ratio right to minimise conflict
Just because a person is a good salesperson out in the field doesn’t mean they will be wonderful at a booth. People are more wary at trade shows of spruikers than anywhere else.
Some industries are a great fit for comedians, but if your office clown makes a joke in bad taste in a public arena like an exhibition you may rue sending them there in the first place.
Check people’s schedules – don’t pencil in someone to man the booth, only to find out that they’re booked for a 4 week cruise.
Actually ask staff if they want to come – the most effective people are the ones who want to be there.
Set ground rules now, at the choosing stage. Your star salesperson won’t shine if they’re up all night hitting the town the exhibition is being held in.
Choose staff members who are interested in people, spontaneous, knowledgeable, honest and positive.

The people you choose to man your booth are, for the duration of the show, the face of your company. Remember, there’s never a second chance for you to create a favourable first impression.

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