Trade Show Tips are sorely needed as trade shows themselves are on the upswing and companies are spending more to attend and attract customers. So, why do I see so many easily fixed mistakes still happening in the booths I observe? No one is telling the staff on the floor how to “work” the booth! With the amount of money spent by organizations to attend a trade show you would think they would want to get the maximum ROI. Well, these very easy to follow Trade Show Tips will help you get the most out of your trade show dollars.

1) Be approachable. Most trade show staff I observe are sitting down, talking to each other, on their phone, eating or standing on the edge of their carpet daring you to approach them.

Happy trade show

If you must sit down, eat or take a call … leave the booth. Nothing says “I don’t care” then any of these. It’s okay to talk with one another, but do it while you’re standing up, facing the aisle, ready to greet the attendees passing by. And don’t stand right on the edge with your arms crossed as you’re perceived to be a wall daring people to try and come in. Instead, stand a couple feet back giving the attendees some space to come in. Clasp your hands or let them naturally hang by your side. Say. “Hello.” And smile. Easy.

You may even want to incorporate a professional trade show presenter whose job it is to gather crowds, impart information and make introductions to your staff. For more on that click here.

2) Ask open ended questions. Once you’re greeted passers-by with a hello, get right to it and ask them a question related to your company that will elicit more than a yes or no response. Too many times I hear staff ask, ”Having a good show?” “Can I talk with you?” “What are you looking for?” The answers are almost always: Yes, No, Nothing.

An opened ended question is one which requires more thought than a simple one-word answer. A useful article written by Mike Schultz, President of the RAIN Group states “Broad, open-ended sales questions are great for helping you find out what’s going on in your prospects’ and clients’ worlds. They help you connect with buyers personally, understand their needs, understand what’s important to them, and help them create better futures for themselves.” You can read more by clicking here.

3) Prepare an elevator answer: We all know what tis is, but do you have it prepared? Written down? You should as it’s only 30 second long. Here’s a template to help:

  1. a) State irrefutably how your company provides value.
  2. b) Establish credibility (how long you’ve has been in business, clients you have, etc.)
  3. c) 2 to 3 three reasons people do business with you and your company.
  4. d) Call-to-action and/or an open-ended question.

4) Qualify attendees: Why waste their time and yours? By using a couple key open ended questions you won’t. Ask some qualifying questions to see if what you’re selling is even a fit (and if so, see where the attendee is in the buying process). This should take less than a minute and their answers will help you both out.

If they’re not qualified, you’ll both know and a simple, “Have a nice show” send them on their way. If they are, give them just 5 minutes to take them through what you have to offer and a promise to follow-up with them after the show. (There are many prospects at a show and if you spend an inordinate amount of time with one attendee you’re short shrifting yourself) Now when you get back to the office for follow-ups on the connections you made will be worth everybody’s time.

5) Use your time wisely: Companies pay a small fortune for each staff member to attendee a trade show when you add up flights, hotel, cabs, meals, the booth property, carpet, electronics, peripherals, signage, drayage…the list goes on and on.

Here’s an example. The last show I worked was a 20×20 booth and the budget was $100,000. They had 10 staff members, so the total for each person worked out to be $10,000 to attend the show. Each staff member worked an average of 20 hours that week. Bottom line? $500 an hour for each person to work the booth. So, when staff call their spouse, plays on their phone, talks to a friend, etc, etc. that is time and money not working the show, developing prospects and making that all important ROI for the trade show in question.

I hope these Trade Show Tips make your next booth more fun, easy to work and profitable.

Richard Laible

About Richard Laible

Professional Master of Ceremonies, Richard Laible, has performed in hundreds of corporate industrials, for numerous Fortune 500 companies, including Hewlett-Packard, Sony, Cisco, Sprint PCS, McDonald’s, Ameritech, Kraft USA, Burger King, Motorola, IBM, SAP and many more throughout his two decade career. His specialties include Corporate Emcee, Corporate Meeting Host, Trade Show Presenter and Sales Meeting Host. Contact Richard Laible at or 847.446.2425