Should you invest in on-stand staff training?
26th September 2023
We’ve all attended exhibitions where our excitement to connect with industry leaders is hard to contain. However, it’s all too common to encounter on-stand staff who seem uninterested or ill-prepared, creating a less-than-ideal experience.
At Imagine, we get it. Our goal is to ensure your brand shines. We’ve consulted with industry experts, David O’Beirne, Owner and Director of trade show marketing specialists The Exhibition Agency, and Stephan Murtagh, Director of The Exhibition Guy, who explain how training can elevate your on-stand experience, protect your brand’s reputation, and maximise your exhibition investment.
The Impact of On-Stand Staff on Brand Perception
Your exhibition stand isn’t just a space. It’s an extension of your brand’s identity and essence. The teams manning the booth are responsible for translating your message, values and culture to your audience. Their behaviour and interactions can significantly influence how attendees perceive your brand.
If you want to create a positive association with your company that creates trust and loyalty, engaging and knowledgeable staff is a necessity.
Stephan comments “The truth is that you have 4 seconds to make an impression as an exhibitor so it’s key that you focus on what is going to deliver that wow for your visitor and make them really want to stop. The 3 key metrics for this are your people, stand and product in that order. Think of it this way, the Exhibition has about 400 shops in it so why should they stop at yours?
85% of positive visitor experience at trade-shows centres around your people. It’s not that the other things aren’t important, but the key is your people. Ironically, it’s not always the best salespeople. It’s about people who are really engaged through open body language, the smile, the welcoming attitude and the people who ask engaging (non-sales questions) to make their visitor feel welcome. You have such a small window of time with buyers who are being bombarded with stands and information at the show that you need to really stand out. I often say it’s easy to spot the people who have been “sent” to the trades-show as opposed to those who are really invested in it, the former sits there disinterested! The key is standing, smiling, engaging and asking open questions.
People – Key Tip: Ditch the furniture on your booth so you have to stand!
Stand – Keep 60% of your floorspace free for visitor access.
Product – Don’t bring every single product, bring the ones you are focusing on.”
Engaging, positive interactions with on-stand staff can lead to attendees spreading the word about their enjoyable experience at your booth. On the flip side, negative encounters can deter potential customers from engaging with your brand.
Enhancing Visitor Engagement and Interaction
On-stand staff training goes beyond just teaching the basics of product knowledge. It encompasses a wide range of skills, from communication and active listening to understanding visitor needs and pain points.
Exhibition experiences are often shared online. Engaging on-stand staff can inspire attendees to snap photos, share their experiences, and tag your brand on social media platforms. This user-generated content amplifies your brand’s visibility and extends the reach of your exhibition presence.
Well-trained staff excel at sparking meaningful conversations, assessing potential leads, and offering valuable insights. This ensures visitors enjoy a personalised and memorable experience at your booth, ultimately increasing the likelihood of transforming leads into loyal customers.
David says “If yours is a small business with few employees or stretched co-workers, you might want to consider hiring external help (there are companies who specialise in this). The person or people they send will be confident about talking to show visitors. They will start conversations and then hand stand guests over to you or a colleague if deeper product knowledge is required.”
Elevating Your Stand’s Atmosphere
The atmosphere at your exhibition stand is key. Visitors are naturally drawn to a booth that exudes warmth, creativity, and approachability. Trained staff can create a welcoming and inviting environment, encouraging visitors to stay longer, ask questions, and engage in discussions.
This lively atmosphere turns your stand into a vibrant hub, where attendees can’t help but be enthused and excited.
Stephan suggests “Many exhibitors really struggle with this concept and to be honest I believe they are overthinking it. What would make you stop at a stand? It could be something as simple as a strong video clip running on a loop, a competition, a bright strong graphic on the wall or it could be as simple as a friendly exhibitor face. When we overthink it and try to be too clever, it can actually be counterproductive and put our visitor off.
A couple of things that I have seen recently that really worked were:
- Having a magician on the stand doing tricks which really drew a crowd
- An engraver – the stand were giving out really high-quality pens to visitors and asked them to come back in half hour to collect the pen which gave the exhibitor a second chance to talk to them and really engage.
- The golf putting game on a stand which created a real hype.
The key Is to think…what would make YOU stop at YOUR stand?”
Demonstrating Thought Leadership
As an exhibition stand design agency, we share your ambition to be a thought leader in your sector, mirroring our commitment to excellence. Thorough training equips your staff with the skills to foster genuine, down-to-earth conversations with visitors.
A knowledgeable team doesn’t just relay information. They infuse creativity and imagination into discussions, sharing insights tailored to each attendee’s unique needs. This engaging approach not only positions your staff but also your brand as friendly, reliable experts, firmly established in the field.
David comments “Yes, your stand and staff should exude competence and knowledge of whatever it is you offer. Buyers attend to find new ideas, new products and importantly, new suppliers. In combination, your stand and team should instil confidence. Otherwise you fall at the first hurdle.”
Stephan Murtagh adds “Visitors to shows will visit a lot of stands and it’s critical that they leave our stand with a memorable view. What’s the ONE thing you want them to remember? When you focus on this you begin to set yourself up for success.”
Improving Return on Investment (ROI)
Exhibiting at industry events involves significant financial investment. By investing in on-stand staff training, you can maximise the ROI of your participation. Engaging and well-trained staff can attract more qualified leads, leading to higher conversion rates and increased sales opportunities.
Stephan comments “In the Exhibition world the term ROI is of course important, but it also has Its downsides. ROI tends to be focused on a specific number. I invest X and want to get Y. This seems to make sense and by and large it does but the terminology Is changing. It’s now more important to focus on ROO. Return on Objectives. Yes of course you are there ultimately to sell your products but if you only focus on this you miss the key reasons why exhibitions are so powerful… you can achieve multiple objectives in one place at one time.
There are 9 key reasons why companies exhibit (see below) and by focusing on 3 of them (which is the optimum number) you radically improve your investment v return.
- Launch New Products
- Find New Staff
- Meet Existing Clients
- Market Research
- Get Appointments
- Find New Distributors
- Brand Awareness
- Demonstrate Products
- Make Sales”
Ultimately, by investing in on-stand staff training, you’re not just investing in your exhibition participation but also in the broader success of your business objectives.
At Imagine, we wholeheartedly grasp the essential role of well-trained staff, not only in creating a warm and positive brand experience but also in amplifying the returns on your exhibition investment.
“Event training is especially important for people who aren’t used to meeting prospective clients face to face. It’s a different environment and some will be out of their comfort zone. That’s when training can make a big difference to the outcome of an event.”
– David O’Beirne
Are you looking for memorable exhibition experiences that inspire audiences and leave a lasting impression? Here at Imagine, we do just that. Click here to find out more.