Gone are the days where you can just rely on a “wow-wee” exhibition stand design to pull in leads. That’s certainly part of attracting eyeballs and conveying your message, but that’s where the buck stops. It’s up to your staff to connect and create an experience for visitors.

Imagine you’re at a car dealership and even though you could read a spec board (or Google reviews on your phone) you want to talk to a real person? You don’t want to hear an endless list of sales features, but for a human to cut to the chase and tell you the difference between car models. It’s their personal side notes and experience that we want to hear most, not to build rapport with a human in a suit. No matter how hard you try, this is kind of interaction that can’t be replaced with any kind of tech gadgetry.

A handshake, a smile and everything that feels REAL and GENUINE that is why exhibitions will continue to be an important part of the sales mix.

When it comes to exhibitions and trade shows, for some reason they get dumped into a category of their own. An anomaly. A storefront. A little hit and miss? I believe this is mostly because it can be complex to quantify results. One reason is because those memorable interactions on the show floor are often instigators for sales results that happen further down the line.

The fact is, it’s the authenticity that cuts through all the jazz hands and fake smiles to get the job done. If that car salesperson I talked about earlier, was willing to tell me not to bother with an optional extra because of “blah”, they have won me over.

Authenticity will always be the star of the show.  We all know the difference between a fake smile and a genuine one. In my opinion, if we don’t layer of authenticity into our dealings with visitors on the show floor we might as well stay at home.

I think we’re slowly becoming more transactional in our endeavour to fit more into each work day so being genuine can now be seen as a skill. If you’re like the majority of us, you have to consciously make an effort to slow down, be present and give a damn. To break the mould we need to behave differently.

Expected behaviour at an exhibition:

• Sales people on the stand, visitors in the aisle
• Salespeople will try to sell to visitors
• Visitors will have to fend off salespeople who try to pounce on them
• Visitors will walk up and down identical aisles with different coloured signs and logos vying for their attention
• Sales people will take details and not contact the visitor after the show

To get real cut-through you’re going to have to reintroduce something I call “The Human Factor”. You definitely want to qualify them in the process, I’m not suggesting becoming everyone’s BFF… You need to value your time and be a bit selective about who you spend your time with! I’ve written previously about ways to go Beyond the Basics of Staff Training for Exhibitions.

7 ways to ramp up your authenticity at exhibitions:

  1. Show interest in building a relationship with your visitor – Don’t think of them as a lead, but a person with a family and a life outside of their work title.
  2. Don’t hide behind a counter (Us V’s Them mentality)
  3. Explain firsthand the difference between your products/services
  4. What problems can you solve for your visitor? Less selling, more helping!
  5. Smile like you mean it, let it show in your eyes.
  6. Never in a million years mutter the words “Hi, can I help you?”. 
  7. Work with the space you have to keep it relaxed and make sure people feel welcome. This is a priority.

Our staff really are the lifeblood of The Exhibit Company brand and our clients choose to work with us not only because we are reliable and deliver what we say we will, but because they LIKE us and know we will always do what’s best by them (Hello, human factor).

You can connect to the world by social media, growing a network of names to market to, but never in a million years will you be able to replace a face-to-face conversation. It’s easy to forget that they abbreviated “reps” stands for “representatives”. Your people really ARE your brand. They are the ones forging relationships, but they’re also the ones with the potential to muck them up.

How will you use exhibitions to truly showcase the personality of your team and strengthen your relationships?

Yours in Exhibiting,