This week I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to attend a trade event in our capital city of London. In fairness I’ve been involved with quite a number of these over the years and in some of the earlier ones I attended I too was caught “RED HANDED” guilty of what I’m about to write about.
Let me set the parameters!
When a company embarks upon the journey of exhibiting at an exhibition there are a plethora of things that need to be taking into consideration, just about all of which have a financial impact associated with them. Ultimately they are going to be looking for an ROI (return on investment) at the end of it and various KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) will determine the success of the event. These outcomes, however, are very strongly influenced by one single metric; the personnel manning the stand. That’s right! surprise surprise but your next year’s “team jolly to London” is resting on your shoulders.
These events can be hugely entertaining and there is, without question, an opportunity to socialise and network with your peers, but when you’re on the stand you also have a huge responsibility because throughout the entire time you are on the stand, you are the face of your company. Your body language, your attention to detail and your physical appearance tells a huge story to the passing trade and if you want to maximise your success at these events then there are a few rules that you should observe.
- Be careful what you eat the night before. If you turn up on your stand oozing the splendours of last nights garlic drenched fish out of every pore of your being then it shouldn’t come as a surprise if your passing trade takes a wide berth.
- On the very same lines as the above but even more important in my opinion, don’t overdo the alcohol on the night before. This is particularly important if you haven’t got a late start rotation in place because at 9am there’s nothing more disgusting than drinking in the breath of a barely sober individual who’s tried to hide the stench behind half a bottle of mouthwash.
- Don’t eat on the stand. I appreciate that sometimes you have been left to man the stand on your own but there’s no way you can last the day without the toilet and equally there’s no way you’ll last without food. So take a break. Leave a note to say you’ll be back in 10 minutes and even if you’re only around the corner don’t try to grab your food whilst you’re working.
- Dress how you want your clients to see you on a first meeting. Not everyone needs to be suited and booted but there aren’t very many meetings you would go to in a torn pair of jeans and ripped t-shirt!
- When you’re talking to a potential client devote your time to the person you’re conversing with. Stop looking over their shoulder for the next million dollar deal to walk on your stand. Not only is this the height of rudeness but you could actually be talking to that million dollar deal, you’ve just not given it the attention required to uncover it. Believe it or not but nobody wears 1 million dollar budget sticker on their name badge.
- Stop talking shop with your colleagues. Do I really have to explain this one? Ok 2 points 1) how are you going to attract somebody onto your stand if you’re already talking to somebody else and 2) you’re in a hall full of industry peers and competitors who’ll be very interested to hear about John’s installation hiccup that nearly cost you your best customer.
- Right this is my number 1 pet hate. Put your mobile phone away! Both life and business happen outside of your back-lit screen and you’re not suddenly going become a technophobe just because you missed your best mate’s LinkedIn update. Your emails can wait, if somebody early wants to get hold of you they’ll call, and if you’ve already explained to all the most important people where you’re going to be and for how long, they’ll either see you there or arrange another time to speak with you. There is almost certainly somebody back in the office that can deal with it and if not they too can get a hold of you. You are in sales, you’re not a surgeon. Nothing, aside from an emergency phone call from your closest family, is more important than talking to a room full of people who buy and sell in your space. I cannot believe that I observed a stand with 7 reps all on their chuffing phones whilst crowds of people just walked on by on Monday, but I did. Your company invested thousands to send you there and you repaid them with Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook updates, with a dollop of internal banter about the good looking girls on the stand around the corner, on the side. Yes this really did happen! Shortly after 3pm Monday 23rd January 2017 and I’ll stop of naming and shaming. Rest assured I’ll be in touch with that company later on this week to ask how the show went and if they thought it could have gone any better.
I do hope that this none exhaustive list is of value to some of you and don’t take it to heart if you’ve done any one or even all of them, because I’m sure we’ve all been there at some point in our careers.