I’ve visited many trade shows and observed many business people manning their stands.
Some key points to success:
How does the stand look? Is it easy to tell exactly what you do – does it shine out from the stand? Or is it a mystery that a potential customer may not bother to explore? Is it beautifully designed and decorated – or have you left half-eaten burgers and lipstick-stained coffee cups in full view? Take care about eating and drinking in sight of visitors.
How do you and your colleagues look? Personal appearance and dress really matter [as do comfy shoes, a change of clothes and some washing things if the atmosphere's a bit stuffy].
Some free gifts [sweets, pens, notebooks] are always popular and I’ve seen some really inventive freebies – mini whisks from a cooking company, packets of seeds, umbrellas and re-usable USB sticks all trigger the collector instinct in us all.
What about the welcome you offer? A few seats, name badges and business cards all personalise each little encounter.
A low key interactive feature, like inviting visitors to add post it notes or writing their thoughts on a blackboard is enjoyable, and can help you gather useful feedback and ideas for your business.
And of course – there are those all-important speaking skills. First impressions include good eye contact, a smile, relaxed breathing, posture and body language, well-honed listening skills and a controlled, pleasant voice suitable for the [possibly tiny] booth you’re working in.
Careful not to oversell; I’ve seen people backing away from a desperate and slightly manic-seeming salesman and head straight for the next stand. Try some roleplay exercises with your staff.