Selecting a team to be stationed at your exhibition stand is an art in itself. Too many extraverts could drive customers away; too many introverts may cause them to sail on by unawares. Ultimately, you’re looking for a balance between friendly, charismatic and knowledgeable, but this balance is by no means easy to strike. How can you use psychology to build up your elite sales squad?
Most salespeople are extraverted. A willingness and ability to branch out into conversations with new people is not something everyone is blessed with. Some shy away automatically from new scenarios, but great salespeople have a capacity to put others at ease, feel relaxed when meeting new faces and to overcome the initial barriers that all too often hamper human connections.
These individuals are best placed at the front and center of the stand, presenting a collected, friendly front to exhibition viewers. However, you have to also consider the psychology of the attendee. Some might be anxious or uncomfortable approaching a confident pair of eyes, preferring instead to slink in unnoticed and talk to the geek with product knowledge. Therefore, the ‘face’ of your exhibition stand should not be too loud and intimidating, rather relaxed, calm and unimposing.
Take a stroll around most tech startup workplaces (the introvert safari), and you’d probably spot quite a few. Introverted people function best in the channels they know and are used to. They can be thought of as specialists — while extraverts can converse on a wide range of topics with fluency, navigating the perils of small talk with ease, introverts are less adept at tailoring their speech to the addressee. While this is often viewed as a flaw, introverts can become highly knowledgeable and specialized within their field. Alan Jenkins of Quadrant2Design comments, ‘While an exhibition is ultimately a spectacle, it’s also an exercise in giving clients a window into your business. To that end, you need to build a team that understands the ins and outs of the company — handsome faces will only get you so far.’ For times when you have customers that are interested in the technical details of product function, an introvert might be the best candidate to explain how a product or service works.
Consider the perspective of an exhibition attendee. They may have a specific goal in mind, a company or product they want to investigate, but equally they’re likely to be open-minded about the opportunities that surround them. To that end, one factor that draws people to an exhibition stand over another is how much fun and entertainment is to be had. This doesn’t just apply to VR headsets — if there is a member of an exhibition team who is simply entertaining to watch and listen to, that stand is likely to draw attention based on that fact alone. Of course, an exhibition is not a comedy routine, but it’s worth considering adding creatives to your team for the entertainment benefit they can bring.
With that said, a team full of creatives could fall prey to impatience and worry. The exhibition environment is a stressful one, and a team can easily get dispirited from a lack of immediate reaction. For these times, it’s always good to have fact-based, analytical individuals who do not see the lull as a failure but as a reduction in interest, and can then take the appropriate measures to remedy this, or simply wait calmly for more customers. Relaxed, organized professionals are a strong addition to an exhibition team because their lack of volatility puts customers at ease and gives them the confidence needed to approach.
Less a personality trait than a behavioral habit, conscientiousness is essentially grit, the willingness to put in effort and energy towards achieving the desired goal. Conscientious people are great on a stand because they look busy. Rather than half wanting to be elsewhere, watching the clock and waiting to check their phone, conscientious individuals are focused on the task at hand. Even if there are no customers around, they will be attending to the surroundings, paying attention to other stands and generally engaged in the present moment. This engagement is a draw for customers, as not only do they see a team of professionals, but also a set of individuals that they can easily converse with, dedicated as they are to the exhibition and to their business at large.
Of course, there is a limit to how well you can categorize your employees and configure them for a successful exhibition outcome. We are barely able as individuals to know our own strengths and weaknesses and how we should fit into a larger team. An understanding of psychology and personality traits is a good supporting aid when selecting your team members, but the most important factor is to assess your employees on an individual level to gauge how well they would fare on an exhibition stand. Some may even surprise you with an unexpectedly low or high performance, so there are certainly no hard-and-fast rules. One thing is true; once you’ve built your team, they will only get stronger from event to event, so it’s worth taking the time to make sure you’re investing in the right people.
Theo Reilly is an independent writer and multilingual translator whose goal is to counteract stale writing in business blogs. Theo has particular interest in business and marketing-related matters surrounding the online world, web design, exhibitions and events.