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Your Rookie Trade Show Booth Staffers Are Scared Silent

Scared trade show booth staffersYou’ve probably heard of “scared straight.”  But what you should be scared of is when your new booth staffers are scared silent.  When staffers are too scared to engage attendees, you miss out on the full potential of your trade show investment.

What makes rookie booth staffers scared silent?  Because they are scared of some big unknowns:

  • They don’t know how to take a trade show lead
  • They don’t know what is expected of them in the booth
  • They don’t have enough product knowledge
  • That could be because they are not already in sales or marketing, or because they are new employees picked to go to the show “as a training exercise.”

    So for these reasons, some rookie staffers are scared to start a conversation with show attendees.  And to make matters worse, not only are they often too scared to start a conversation with a person in the aisle, but they are also too scared to tell you how scared they are. So they don’t ask for the help they need.

    Consequently, it’s hard for booth staffers to take their very first lead at a trade show, and hard for them to keep taking leads.  So you will get fewer leads than you could unless you help them get beyond their fears.

    To help your booth staffers achieve their potential, you have to push those fears into the open, but in a safer way than under the bright lights and big crowds of the trade show floor.

    Help your rookie staffers by reminding them that booth visitors actually paid to visit the show, and many are shopping for solutions to their problems that your products can solve.

    Your Mother said, "Don't talk to strangers."

    Tell them: We are programmed to avoid engaging visitors, because Mom said to us growing up, “Don’t talk to strangers.”  To reprogram yourself, think of what Will Rogers said, “Strangers are friends I haven’t met yet.”  As a staffer, you’ll find that attendees regularly will tell you they are happy to have talked with you, because you have what they came to the show to find.  They’ll tell you they are happy, even if you stopped them.

    Will Rogers said, "Strangers are friends I haven't met yet."

    Most of all, help them break through their wall of fear with a role playing exercise, safer because it’s long before the trade show starts.   Have them pretend to be staffing a booth, while an experienced booth staffer pretends to be a show attendee.  Go through various likely scenarios, with different kinds of attendees they will encounter at a show, and coach them on their performance. To do this well, your new booth staffers will also have to be trained on your products, and how your products meet the needs of your main market segments.

    Now, while role playing in itself is uncomfortable, it’s better to go through that discomfort before the show and get it over with.  Give booth staffers a chance to practice the process of engaging attendees in the aisle, qualifying to find out needs, presenting just the part of your company story that addresses those needs, and closing the conversation with a commitment for follow up.

    So when you help booth staffers get over their fears before the show, they will be more comfortable at the show, and then take more leads.

    Booth Staffing GuidebookDon’t be scared to learn even more ways to improve your trade show booth staffers.  Click here to get your free copy of the 48-page Booth Staffing Guidebook, chock-full of helpful articles, worksheets and checklists to help your booth staffers thrive on the trade show floor.

    About the Author

    Mike Thimmesch was Skyline Exhibits' Director of Customer Engagement, for over 25 years. He is now retired and spends his time freelancing, traveling, and enjoying time with his family.

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