Equip Your Team for a Successful Trade Show, Even If You Can’t Join Them

August 15, 2017

John Doney

As Community Coordinator for Underabuck, John Doney connects the company’s services with organizations, businesses and entrepreneurs to equip their branding efforts.

Most business owners don’t have the time to attend trade shows themselves while running and growing their business. But as your company grows, there will be more critical trade shows and great opportunities than you can attend yourself, so you’ll need to appoint some well-trained team members.

How do you make sure your team is equipped to succeed at trade shows (even without you)? Here are a couple of tips to consider.

Take every opportunity to practice

There are multiple ways your trade show team can get customer service experience. Take a look at volunteer events in your area that require the same skillset they would need in a trade show and see if any of those causes resonate with your team. Allow them the day off to volunteer (if it’s a weekday) or give them a workday off if the event takes place on a weekend.

If your company has internal events that would need someone to handle things like registration, organization, information dissemination or other related-skills, see if any team members would be willing to handle those roles as preparation for working at a trade show.

Finally, if your trade show team needs to learn more about your product or service in order to interface with potential customers, ask them to do a round of training with your sales and customer support teams. If your trade show team communicates regularly with your clients, they’ll understand pain points, desires and how to answer common questions.

Diversify your teams

Not every business can be so fortunate as to have multiple trade show veterans on their teams, so mix up the people you send every time. You should have at least one experienced team member at every event but be sure to mix in others who haven’t worked a trade show yet. Having teams with varying trade show experience will allow the newer employees to learn and gain experience so that eventually they’ll be veterans as well.

Pro tip: Give one person ownership of the trade show preparation to make sure one person always has accountability. This will help you avoid oversights with the excuse, “I thought so-and-so was taking care of it.”

Bonus tip: Have a system in place for follow-ups. Even if your team couldn’t make a lasting impression at the trade show, you have a chance to convert as long as you were able to capture information. If you got email addresses or business cards in exchange for a giveaway, you can reach out and re-connect to make yourself relevant to their needs.


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Partner Voices

As event professionals and destinations adjust, adapt and evolve in these uncharted waters, it is imperative that substantial resources be put in place for all of the people responsible for planning and executing trade shows, expositions and conventions. An example is Mohegan Sun, which built an industry-leading, COVID-19 Resource Center with a combination of pictures from recently held successful events (the property reopened on May 1, 2020) along with several widely available and informative documents, such as an evolving operational framework: