Empower Booth Staffers and Drive Better Staff Interactions
Albert Einstein once said, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” If he said that over 80 years ago, I wonder what this brilliant scientist would have to say about technology and human interaction today.
In a world where people are more likely to TYPE to each other than TALK to each other, how do we maintain the human connection? And in the trade show biz, where we definitely need to be interacting with people, how do we establish a connection?
*How do you approach someone?
*How do accomplish being a good listener?
*How do you glean what they need from what they say?
*How do you communicate to them that they are important?
Well, I’m glad you asked! The answer is EMPATHY. Empower your staffers and yourself with the essence of empathy. Empathy is simply the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. If you were at a dinner party and someone began telling the harrowing story of how earlier in the day they had slammed their finger in a car door, you would empathize! You might grab your own hand or make a cringe-y face or audibly gasp. But you would identify with that person’s pain. You would have a connection.
Empathy is innate. We are born with the capacity to learn human subtleties that build our empathy. No one has to tell you how to react to someone else’s pain, joy, or other feelings. However, technology has accomplished the sad feat of stripping us of these inborn feelings.
For that reason, staffers might need to work a bit to strengthen their empathy muscles. They might need to practice enjoying people and their different imaginations, gestures, senses of humor, language patterns. Once your staffers empathize with the prospects, you will get quality leads that go beyond BANT — budget, authority, needs and timeline. Nurturing empathy will pay off big time, too. Empathetic staffers will gain leads that extend your brand beyond the confines of the show floor. Additionally, they will collect QUALITY leads.
You can aspire to get quality leads only if you can get in touch with the feelings of the person you are talking to. Gone are the days of card-collecting and empty leads and meaningless quotas. The new day’s agenda is communicating the feeling of your brand – how you want people to feel related to using your product or service.
Communicate your team's desire and intention for the show to staffers and give them an idea on the number of meaningful conversations they should strive for each day. Spend the bulk of your training time, talking about your company’s objectives, your customers' frustrations — what you offer as a company and how to be a good host. The overall message should be to treat each booth visitor as the important guest they are. You want prospects leaving the booth with a better impression of your company than they started with.
Encourage your staffers to think of your booth visitors as humans, not as leads or prospects. If you motivate staffers simply based on the number of leads they get, then they will think of visitors as “just another lead” instead of as an individual. Granted, if you hire great staffers, they will qualify great leads. But they will still rush from one interaction to the next because they are focused on numbers. Part of this can be overcome by properly training staffers on the right qualifying questions to ask. Still, if you are judging their performance on the number of leads they collect, that will likely distract them from taking the time to ask questions and have a meaningful conversation with the prospect.
This move toward getting to know the customer as opposed to just scanning badges might be seen by some as a waste of time. I mean, what about the people who are just stopping by for the giveaway? What about the client who you know is not going to buy anything else? What about the competitors who simply want to scope us out?
Easy. If you have competitors snooping around, strategize your booth design so it accommodates for that. If you cannot up-sell to your clients, it is because your company offering has not grown in value. And if someone is coming over for the giveaway, well, DUH, it’s a giveaway – it’s good for the brand footprint.
Going the extra mile to connect with customers is going to be a little more work, but it pays off exponentially. Of course, trade shows are built on sales. You want the sale. That’s the short game. But you want to win the long game, too. The long game involves building something – relationships with customers who will return again and again to a company who knows them and cares about them..