Booth Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts

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Whether you are planning for a 10 x 10 or 40 x 40 foot exhibit space, exhibitors attend trade shows for the same purpose; lead generation and brand management.

With so much invested in your exhibiting experience at a show, it would seem that all efforts would be focused on making an impact.  Too often the simplest rules of common courtesy and etiquette torpedo the efforts.  So here are some “Do’s and Don’ts” that will help you and your sales team shine.

Not to sound like Kindergarten teacher but personal hygiene is important….clean clothes with shined shoes are a must in presenting a neat appearance…….and please make sure you haven’t eaten onions or garlic for lunch.  No Food or Beverages for Staff in the Booth…it looks sloppy and how can you talk with your mouth full or shake someone’s hand with chocolate dripping down yours?

First and most important, get off the phone, get off your tablet, get off your laptop. Don’t be reading the newspaper, magazines or a book.  Who wants to stop and engage with someone who appears busy with other “important” things?!

Don’t sit down, or stand behind a table. Don’t hide in the corner of or have so many obstacles and barriers in your booth that you are closed off. It’s okay to be on a stool at eye level aside a counter or kiosk but ideally, position yourself along the perimeter of the booth by the aisle to be able to say “hey” to attendees walking by your booth.

Don’t gang up and pool together.  No horseplay or inappropriate conversations that some might find offensive.  For sure, look like you are having fun because that will engage people but don’t let it get to the level of annoying sophomoric high jinks. People don’t want to interrupt the clique.  Be a solo or duel act.  Say hello and smile, ask where they are from…start a conversation.  Offer a free pen, candy or whatever your promotional giveaway is.

Don’t start the sales pitch too early.  Qualify the prospect first and don’t be afraid to give your spiel. Bring on the charm through being upbeat and sincere or just be yourself if you are a bit more reserved. But make sure to listen and gauge if the time is right to segue into a soft sales pitch.

Don’t be cross talking across the fence with your booth neighbor.

Do: Talk to everyone; you never know who that person knows or where they will be 1 year from now.  It’s all about 2nd and 3rd circle connections….just because someone is on the periphery doesn’t preclude them from being a person who can help you sell because they know another attendee or buyer who needs your product or service.

Do: Keep it light, keep the mood positive.

Do: The last do is often the most overlooked.  DO make sure to send an email or personal note to each and every person you had dialogue with at the booth.  It separates you from the pack.  DO Follow-up with the buyers who requested additional information or specific proposals and price quotes.

10 Quick Notes:

Here is a rapid fire list of valuable trade show etiquette tips:

  • Rehearse your brand’s story, so when the time is right, the team delivers a polished, consistent and effective message.
  • Familiarize staff with the booth layout and product or service so that the selling process runs smoothly and time is used effectively during live demonstrations.
  • Adhere to a proper dress code.
  • Keep the booth clean, tidy and well-organized.
  • Turn off cell phones and other distractions.
  • Leave the chewing gum and potato chips at home. Before exhibiting avoid alcohol, garlic, onions and spicy foods. Save eating and drinking for your breaks out of the booth area.
  • Pay attention to your Body Language.  Be approachable.  Keep hands at your sides or folded behind your back – no crossed arms in front and definitely keep hands out of pockets.
  • Listen a lot more than you talk to prospects. Be enthusiastic, confident and polite.
  • Avoid over-the-fence discussions with adjacent exhibits. Stay focused – trade show romances aren’t compatible with the company’s trade show objectives. Make sure your booth staff stays cordial and friendly…do not act like you are at a “Frat House Party”
  • Ask open-ended questions to illicit a response, help build a rapport with attendees and determine prospects’ needs.

Contributed by: Mitch Isaacs, Las Vegas Expo, Sales & Marketing Manager

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