Candy Adams, CTSM, CME, CEM, CMM, CMP
a.k.a. “The Booth Mom” – www.BoothMom.com
What is “Boothmanship”?
• Successful communication with attendees (verbal and non-verbal) at a trade show
• Focus on being remembered for your communication skills
Boothmanship facts and figures
• It takes only 4 seconds to make a first impression on an attendee — good or bad!
And you only have 1 chance to make a first impression!
• An average salesperson in an exhibit will make 6 contacts an hour.
• 55% of communication at a trade show is non-verbal.
• 86% of what an attendee will remember about your exhibit is related to the booth
staff’s performance, actions and comments.
• 6 weeks after the show, attendees won’t remember your booth but they will remember
Tips for a Top-Notch Booth Staff
Attendees have expectations when they come to your booth. To be memorable, be:
• courteous to our “guests”
No “dogs with fleas”: seasoned sales staff who no longer want to work shows and taint
the “rookies” to the sales force with horror stories and bad attitudes!
Trade show selling is different because…
• Prospect comes to you instead of you going to the prospect
• Sensory overload – noise, distractions, and fierce competition for attendee attention
• Exhibitor, not prospect, is in control of sales situation
• May or may not be time for usually-prepared demo
• Team vs. individual sale
• Instant comparison with competition
•Talking with multiple prospects at the same time with different agendas
• 3-15 minute “sales call” vs. 45 minute – 2 hour “sales call”
Top 10 Rules of Booth Etiquette
1. SMILE! Get a positive attitude. (How often do potential customers make a special
trip to see you?)
2. Place your badge on your right lapel (because you shake hands with your right
hand) or shorten your lanyard.
3. Carry and use breath freshener spray or small mints (Tic Tacs vs. large, bulky
mints). Shy away from spicy or garlicky food and alcoholic beverages.
4. Avoid chewing gum, eating, and drinking while in your exhibit. Keep it neat & tidy!
5. While working the exhibit, don’t sit in your booth or lean on the exhibit counters.
6. Don’t spend time talking on your cell phone, with booth neighbors, or to your other
booth staff. Make yourself approachable
7. Make eye contact; never ignore a prospect, even if you’re with another prospect.
(Give them a nod and “just a minute” sign.) Include them into your conversation.
8. Greet attendees by name; if you can’t pronounce it, ask!
9. Shake hands; match the strength of the other person’s handshake and only “pump”
10. Place your watch face on the inside of your wrist to “sneak peeks”.
Watch what you say…with body language
55% of your ability to communicate on the show floor is body language; 38% is voice;
Only 7% is words used!
Non-Verbal Communications (Body Language)* Signals Possible Meaning
1. Folded arms Defensive, no compromise
2. Hands covering mouth Insecure, not sure of what is being said
3. Tugging at ear/nose/throat Impatient, usually wants to interrupt
4. Fingers of both hand touching Supremely confident
5. Tightly clenched hands, wringing Nervous to various degrees
hands, excessive perspiration,
6. Feet and/or body pointing toward Ready to leave
7. Hands supporting head when Thinking, unsure of ground, stalling
8. Hands to face Evaluating, listening
9. Clenched hands and locked ankles Nervous or upset
10. Legs comfortable and arms open Interested and involved
11. Avoiding eye contact Ill at ease
*From Guerilla Trade Show Selling
4 Steps of the Trade Show Sales Process:
Engage, Qualify, Present, Close
Engage: Make eye contract, greet by name and shake hands.
Qualify: Use consultative selling techniques to qualify suspects into prospects
• Memorize the first 3 questions to qualify every prospect and stick to the “script”
• Formulate additional probing questions to determine your prospects needs, buying
influence, resources, purchasing time frame, and purchasing power using open-ended
questions beginning with “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, “how”, “how much”
or “how many”, or “tell me about…” (Solution selling)
• Relate these questions to your industry, product/service and the benefits of these to
Other Sample Probing Questions
• Do you have specific questions or would you just like a general overview?
• What is your main objective and how do you plan to achieve that goal?
• What are your most important needs in obtaining this product/service?
• What is the biggest problem you currently face with your current product/service?
• Do you have a budget set for this purchase? And what might that be?
• Tell me about your business… What do you do for XYZ Company?
Avoid non-productive questions, such as “May I help you?” or “Are you enjoying the
Make Your Presentation
• Invite attendees to stay for a structured presentation
• Escort to a demo station and introduce them
• Restate the major benefits you and the attendee have discussed
• Q: Are there any other questions you’d like to ask?
• Q: How would you like me to follow-up? Get the commitment for follow-up and set as
many follow-up appointments as you can at the show.
• Run attendee’s badge through the lead retrieval system and record any additional
comments on the hard copy.
Time is your biggest competition!
• Don’t feel guilty about disengaging unqualified suspects.
Sample disengaging comments:
• “I want to thank you for your time, but I’m afraid our product/service doesn’t fit your
• “I don’t want to take up any more of your valuable time, but this might answer more of
your questions,” while handing literature; then step back, using your body language to
Candace Adams, Trade Show Consulting, 2012, Defiance, OH