Many organisations and individuals invest large amounts of money on stands and resources at exhibitions. If you are one of these organisations or individuals, are you really getting value for money, or are throwing money down the drain?
Every year, I visit many exhibitions to see what is new in the leisure marine market place as well as to meet new and existing clients.
Some of the exhibitions I visit include the London Boat Show, Southampton Boat Show, The Dinghy Show, Seaworks and METS (the world’s largest trade show of the international marine leisure industry), which includes the Superyacht Pavilion.
It regularly amazes me to see the lack of engagement with exhibition visitors, by the team members manning the stands. If I were investing what are often very large sums of money in being represented at an exhibition, I would want an excellent return on my investment.
When you add up the costs of renting the space, fitting out the stand, branding it, the electricity and the staffing etc., the costs can be significant.
The answer to this issue in my opinion is very simple. Employ people who like working with people, teach them about your product or service in detail (or have a knowledgeable colleague nearby), ensure that you remind them about the basic skills of a customer service expert and empower them to delight their customers.
Empowering your team members is highly likely to result in them providing your prospective customers with an amazing experience and this is much more likely to lead to business. Empowerment means that team members are given an agreed level of authority in terms of what they can offer customers, at low risk to the organisation and without referring to a more senior member of their team. Very often, this gives the team member additional motivation to show what they can achieve and also to close more deals.
For example, at Southampton Boat Show there is a stand called “Which Marina” where representatives of a number of marinas are available to “sell” their marina to Show visitors. It is therefore, critical that each marina representative is well briefed in terms of the services of their marina, that they are able to articulate the unique selling point (USP) of their marina, and most importantly have the confidence to approach visitors who are clearly interested and are demonstrating signs of “buying” the services of their marina. By being empowered, they will also know what they are able to negotiate by themselves to encourage potential customers to close a deal with them.
My suggestion is that when you decide to use an exhibition to sell your product or service, in addition to taking time to plan and prepare the approach you are going to take to the physical aspects of your stand, just as or, even more importantly, prepare your team well so that they are able to truly be “the face” of your business for the duration of the exhibition.
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