Building a profitable business involves more than just increasing your bottom line. Your success also depends on saving money and getting the most value out of what you spend. When you consider that, depending on the industry, 15 to 50 percent of a company’s expenses are spent on staff salaries, hiring and retaining the right people is obviously an important priority.
According to the experts at Robert Half Management Resources, “every small business, even those with only a handful of employees, can benefit from cultivating a corporate culture that keeps people engaged and productive while improving business performance.”
Trade shows offer an opportunity to develop better – and happier – employees.
Brainstorming ideas for marketing your presence at the show, sharing responsibilities for working the booth and then following up on the contacts made, can enhance the creativity, competitive spirit and customer service skills of everyone involved. While all of these activities are excellent skill builders for individuals, they are even more valuable as team building exercises for people in the same or different departments. Moreover, unlike sporting events, office parties, and the usual offsite (and often expensive) entertainment venues used to foster team spirit, trade shows can help build teams in four ways:
1. Trade shows lets everyone in the booth interact directly with your customers.
There is nothing like exchanging information about your products and the customer’s needs and preferences to learn why a company is successful – or how they can improve! Whatever department or function your booth staff normally fills, working a trade show is always an education. In addition, understanding why people like your product or are critical of it should make everyone more effective when you get back to the office and apply the insights they’ve learned.
Giving everyone a chance to serve your customers face-to-face is a plus for another reason. It will make them feel more personally responsible for customer satisfaction and the company’s overall success. One of the main reasons employees often cite for feeling loyal to a company is that their employers have empowered them to make a difference. At a trade show, everyone represents the company to your customers, competitors, vendors and potential new hires for those few days. Staffing your booth, visiting the booths of other professionals, meeting their peers in the industry, they can make an immediate impact on how your brand is perceived and your people will know it.
2. Trade shows showcase the skills and knowledge of your sales force.
As part of your booth staff, your salespeople will not only be in their element, they’ll have a chance to demonstrate their talent to the rest of your staff. Furthermore, doing so will enable non-sales people to better understand the sales function and how they can help support it.
Working side by side toward the same goal, is a great way to build a bond between sales and everyone else. Once you’re back in the office, you might reinforce this relationship by holding periodic meetings to exchange information between sales and the other departments.
3. Trade shows let everyone on your team study the competition.
If understanding your customer is the first half of what everyone in your company should know to be more successful, the second half is learning what the competition is offering and how you can top it! Encourage your staff to spend their breaks seeing what your competitors look like and sound like. Have them make notes, take cell phone shots, collect brochures, etc. It’s the perfect way to do marketing research in real time. After the show, everyone can share information and then brainstorm ideas on how to counter and top your rivals’ sales approach at future shows – and through other venues.
4. Trade shows enable you to attract, meet and recruit new employees.
Whether attendees are potential sales people or are looking for other positions in your industry, seeing a group of happy staff members is a great advertisement for your firm. When you prepare for the show, one of the things you may want to do is create and share some talking points with the booth staff on what your company has to offer and the kind of people you’re looking for. By the way, if you create this list as a group exercise you could learn how your employees feel about the pros and cons of their employment in a way they might not otherwise share. Take this information to heart. It should help you build a staff that’s happier, more productive and more loyal than ever.
As you can see, working a trade show can be far more than just a sales opportunity. If you regard it as a chance to learn more about your customers, competition, industry and employees, your ROI will go far beyond just the dollars earned from increased sales.
Good luck! And let us know if there is anything we can do to help you prepare for your next show.