Well let’s start with a statistic from Exhibitor Online that suggests 85% of the success of your stand will be down to the people on it.

85%!! More important than how your stand looks, what you’re giving away or where you’re sleeping, but generally given less time, discussion and money than most other elements of trade show planning. 

Think about the last time you visited a trade show or exhibition, do you remember experiencing any of the following:

  • Exhibitors eating, on their mobiles or grouping together on stands
  • Stand staff looking like desperate hunters trying to entice you in, or conversely cowering in the corner terrified to talk to anyone
  • Staff unable to have a conversation that offers a solution to your problem – so instead chatting about the weather, your holiday, Coronation Street etc…
  • Not knowing who on the stand is an exhibitor and who is a visitor to ask for some help
  • Getting pounced on by more than one member of staff

These are just some, but by no means all of the results when exhibitors fail to invest the time and money in properly training their squad ahead of a trade show.  All too often, it’s left to the sales teams on the assumption that they will naturally be the most effective and certainly the ones who don’t need any training.  But in years’ spent helping exhibitors, it’s often the sales teams who benefit most from trade show training as it can be a very different skill set to those used in the field.


Stand Squad Watching the Grand Prix and Drinking Wine

Stand Squad Watching the Grand Prix and Drinking Wine


It’s one of the questions we’re most frequently asked, with exhibitors suggesting that a 5 minute brief on how the stand works is usually enough to get them through.  We’d suggest as a minimum you’d want to spend time on:

  1. SMART OBJECTIVES – what each individual needs to deliver as a member of the squad
  2. STAND DESIGN – how it works and why it has been designed as it has
  3. PRE-SHOW MARKETING – what each squad member needs to do to get the right people to the show
  4. LEAD CAPTURE – what and how are you collecting in terms of data
  5. SQUAD COMPOSITION – which personalities do we have in our team and what are our strengths / vulnerabilities
  6. STAND STANDARDS – what are the rules for our team
  7. OPENING LINES – how do we make a great impression that leads to a commercial conversation
  8. FILTERING VISITORS – who do we want to meet and how we will identify them
  9. DISPATCH TECHNIQUES – getting comfortable with moving on time-wasters
  10. FOLLOW-UP LIKE A PRO – how do we convert conversations to sales

So if you try to cover everything on that list in 5 minutes on the stand – it’s about 30 seconds per topic.  Just about enough time to actually introduce each of the elements.


As with everything about trade shows, it loops back to those all important SMART Objectives. For example, you know that your objective is to present your new cloud based accounting software to 100 decision makers at a major business show.

Without Any Squad Training:

Your squad arrive late to your stand on the first day because they weren’t sure where to go, and because they were late they’re finishing off their egg butty. A visitor walks onto the stand and asks about your new product to which the staff member replies ”Oh the new thing, I’m not really sure what that is, I still like doing it all with a calculator and a pen and paper”.  One of your existing customers turns up the stand and you notice a squad member shuffling off the stand.  When you ask him where he’s been he explains he was hoping that particular customer didn’t show up as there have bee real problems with him. Around lunchtime, 4 out of your 5 squad members head off to buy their lunch which they bring back to the stand and sit down together to eat around the one table you have on the stand. When it comes to analysing the data to follow up on leads you have the contact information for 4 sales managers of business magazines, 3 students, the membership manager for the the local networking association and 374 random names and emails that may or may not be of any use to you.

With Squad Training: 

Your squad are on the stand an hour before opening to walk through the stand and see how the images and designs have been brought to life. The squad are all wearing the agreed uniform and are easily identifiable to any visitors who come onto the stand.  5 minutes before the show opens, squad members take their position at the various stations around the stand, knowing what their role is for the particular demo or area.  Your Chatty Charlie gives your Wallflower Wilma a last minute confidence boost to ease their anxiety. A visitor walks onto your stand and is asked what specifically they’re interested in at today’s show. Following a reply that as they’re growing they’re looking for as easier and quicker accounting solution, your squad member can talk them through the demonstration of your latest software which might the perfect solution for them. Your squad take their breaks in rotation, getting a chance to re-energise and maybe catch a couple of the live seminars to build their own skills and knowledge.  At the end of the show you only have 76 leads, but from the notes you can see that every one is expecting a follow up call to plan an on-site demo of the software with a view to purchasing it.  You have another 50 leads from people who aren’t in a position to buy yet but want to be on the mailing list to keep in touch.

Which outcome would you prefer for your investment?

Squad training helps to prepare your team for what will be a physically, mentally and emotionally demanding experience. It will align everyone behind the key corporate objectives, kill some of the opinion around why the stand design is wrong and build confidence with those more nervous members. It enables you to collectively write the stand rules (see this blog for more ideas) and empowers yous squad to hold each other to account.  It will make your squad look like they’re organised, professional and working together to deliver a better experience for visitors – making them more likely to buy.

Let’s just go back to the beginning, 85% of the success of your show will be down to your staff. Your stand, giveaways and pre-show marketing might be what first attracts a visitor, but your squad will be what engages them and ultimately converts the sale – the rest is just window dressing.

For details on how ProExTra can help your Squad Training through bespoke workshops, Bootcamps Programmes, Webinars and e-learning get in touch now at  or click here to read about out training options.









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