MAKING YOUR OWN RULES: ADVICE FOR EMPOWERING YOUR SQUAD AT EXHIBITIONS
One of the things I absolutely LOVE about delivering Exhibitor Training workshops are those moments you’re not expecting, the reactions you weren’t anticipating and the light-bulbs you can see switching on in people’s minds.
”BUT WE JUST FOLLOW THE RULES!”
And that’s just what happened last week when we were training a team of veteran sales people and exhibitors ahead of their flagship industry exhibition. We were talking ”Stand Standards” and discussing some of the behaviour they’d seen from other exhibitors that was less than professional – eating, drinking, being on your mobile – the regular stuff that makes visitors instantly walk the other way. Then it was their turn, in pairs we asked them to come up with their stand rules for before, during and after the show and present them back to the group.
Horrified one of the delegates said ‘But we don’t make the rules, we just follow them‘ and it took a minute to digest that this really was their chance to contribute to the stand contract – the rules they were collectively going to abide by to get the most value from the session. 20 minutes later we had 2 flip charts full of standards that the group had debated, agreed and committed to adhere to during the show – but why does that make such a difference to the results of your show?
85% of the success of your stand is down to your staff*
Yet 86% of exhibitors never give any training, support or briefing to their squad before a show. How much time, effort and money do you put into your stand design compared to getting your people ready? Whilst your stand may be what attracts visitors, it is your team who will engage with them, so surely it’s worth taking the time to include them in the process and take ownership for their role in delivering success.
Here are 5 reasons why empowering your team to define the collective standards helps drive your success:
- It gives you the chance to explain why standards are important – showing why visitors get turned off by you chewing food on the stand, being ignored and general bad behaviour.
- You get the benefit of many different opinions – what is acceptable to one person, is a turn-off to another meaning you cover off a wider variety of behaviours.
- Your squad can debate what is and isn’t acceptable, arriving at their joint conclusion about how you best represent your organisation professionally.
- Transferring the responsibility to the team removes the stigma of the Project Manager setting the rules just to be ‘in control’.
- On-site it’s much easier for your whole squad to challenge each other if, and when someone’s behaviour falls below the agreed standards.
And it isn’t just the standards of behaviour on the stand that you can include in the discussion, SMART Objectives, pre-show marketing and follow up can all be included in the debate to ensure everyone throughout the organisation contributes as fully as possible to the end-to-end success of the show.
For example, here are some questions you might want to ask to get your squad talking about what they’re going to agree to deliver:
- How many prospects are we each going to contact before the show and encourage to come and visit us?
- What social media (frequency, platforms, content) will we all sign up to in order to shout about being at the show?
- How many existing customers are we each going to meet at the show and for what purpose (e.g. selling a new product or service, getting a testimonial etc)?
- When will we have followed up the leads we capture at the show? How are we going to do that?
- What’s a responsible amount for us to drink on an evening at a trade show (always an interesting, but important debate)
- How will we know if one of our squad is struggling at the show and what will we do about it?
If nothing else, it just gets people talking about the show, expressing any of their worries, helping newer members of the team learn and hopefully getting everyone excited about it, rather than never giving it a thought until they arrive (late) on site.
It’s amazing how much more empowered your squad can feel by being included in the decision making process and contributing to the planning. Whilst they may not necessarily agree with every decision they should at least understand why decisions were made and why they’re being asked to behave in a certain way. And if nothing else, once you’ve agreed on a black trousers dress code, it makes it much easier to get your line manager to change his salmon pink chino’s when he turns up in them (almost never a good look!).
So how are you going to empower your team ahead of your next exhibition?
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And if you need some help with your team finding their voice why not give us a call and we can come and facilitate a session for you? Check out our training services here