Ensure availability of as many of the sales people as necessary, and plan their duty. A work plan is essential as ad hoc attendance can leave the booth critically short of fair personnel at some periods and overstaffed at others. Make sure that all fair personnel have their rest periods off the booth – exhibition work is hard work! A hostess by initiating friendly conversations with the people walking by your booth, help you acquire new customers and heighten your potential to do further business. A multilingual hostess greet customers in their native language and build a trusting relationship to existing and potential customers.
If resources permit, consider a uniform for your hostess and booth staff; matching blazers and trousers or skirts enhance the visual appeal of the stand, and give a professional image. Name badges should be worn at all times, as they help identify your staff to a hesitant visitor. Badges can be obtained from the organisers.
The happy medium is a hostess who greets a visitor politely, and with a smile, allows him to browse for a brief period without hovering or pouncing, and then engages him in sensible conversation about his requirements.
Ensure that you have already put in place a system for following up your new leads, and monitoring how well they convert into new orders. It is important to check on the progress of your contacts, in order to judge how well the exhibition has performed in generating new business for your company. It can also be helpful to provide a diary system for your sales force, so that no follow-up visits or phone calls are overlooked.
Often, a promotional scheme aimed at acquiring business cards can be used to good effect – such as a free draw, when all-comers are invited to leave their cards in return for a chance to win a prize. This is an inexpensive way of obtaining more names and addresses than you might otherwise have been able to. Do not forget, however, to obtain the permission of the organisers before arranging such a promotion.
If all hostesses are fully engaged, do not ignore a further visitor. Excuse yourself briefly from your current guest, offer the newcomer a drink, leaflet, or make arrangements to see him later, and return to your guest. Make sure the first free staff member attends to the newcomer’s requirements. An exhibition booth is no place for staff to eat and drink, unless staffing pressures make it essential. If it is necessary, coffee cups and sandwiches should be kept out of sight of visitors – the simple action of putting down a cup of coffee and walking towards a visitor can make him feel threatened enough to leave at once!
Highly spiced foods should also be avoided. Never forget that the exhibition is only the start of the selling process. Do continue it by making sure that all your new contacts are followed up – properly. Diary follow-up visits and telephone calls; make sure that your lead conversion monitoring is conscientiously carried out; and be sure to send literature and quotations where they have been requested.Follow-up all your sales leads from both pre- and post-exhibition publicity, as well as those gained at the show.
We cannot guarantee that – even if you follow every single guideline in these pages – your exhibition will be a roaring success. However, if you do take our advice, you can rest assured that you will have done everything in your power to maximise your investment in the exhibition, and to achieve your objectives of finding new customers and making more sales.