We take for granted that everyone knows how to act like a professional at a trade show. We assume they possess polished sales skills. And, by and large, that "should" be true and here is why.
Recently, I conducted a "booth etiquette and sales training" seminar for a medical services company. I've written about this topic before, and it would have been easy to pull together a PowerPoint from those articles. Instead, I decided to look at the topic from a different angle, one where I suspected everyone had a shared background.
At the seminar, I asked the attendees if they had ever worked in retail or in any job where they were expected to approach, assist, and advise someone in a purchase. Of the 52 attendees, all but four raised their hand. I then asked them to think back about the "rules" they learned in retail.
Here's what they told me in no specific order. Chances are you'll recognize most of them:
If you've ever worked a trade show, these "rules" should seem very familiar. After all, working on the show floor is not all that different from working in a shoe store, electronics store, or a restaurant. You are there to assist customers. Sometimes your customers know exactly what they want. Other times, they expect you to guide them to most appropriate solution after determining their needs. Sometimes it's slow. Other times it's busy, but either way you are onstage and expected to perform flawlessly and to be a professional.
Nearly everyone knows how to be successful on the trade show floor. You learned the basics when you worked at Macy's or LensCrafters or AutoZone or Olive Garden. At a minimum, you learned to be nice, to be polite, and to treat each customer with respect. At a maximum, you learned how to sell and the importance of customer service. The products and services you now represent may be more complicated and the selling price higher, but the skills are basically the same.
So next time you enter your booth, whether you have a table top at the local Chamber of Commerce show or a 30' x 30' custom exhibit at your industry's premier event, remember what you learned working nights and weekends at the mall. And don't forget to shine your shoes and iron your shirt or blouse. Appearance counts!
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