Exhibition stands are as good the staff manning them

During the Housing Expo held at KICC, Nairobi, which ran for four days, it dawned on me that exhibition stands are only as good as the people manning them.

Elaborate exhibition stand designs were on display. Choice material was there for gawking. Branding was at its peak. And a kaleidoscope of colours was evident. Inside the stands, it was easy to tell that a lot of time, energy and money had been invested in getting it just right. From experience, I also know that many man-hours were spent on preparations for the expo.

Brochures were printed. Luxurious sofa sets and flat screens hired just for the four days. Special rates were negotiated for clients. And designers contracted to advise on how best stands should look like.

Exhibition stand cost and design

Yes, companies will go to great lengths to see to it that they are ready to open shop at an Expo in a manner commensurate with their image. Unfortunately, all this amounts to naught when the salesperson manning the stand spends her time texting friends on her phone as prospective customers pass-by. It’s all for naught when salespeople huddle in a corner chatting away completely oblivious of the prospects present. It’s all for naught when the grand stand is empty because the salesperson went off to view more exciting (competitor) stands. And it’s all for naught when the grand stand, which a reputable company heavily invested it’s time, name and money in, ends up being for just that — grand standing. Unless of course, your objective is not to sell, but win best exhibition stand design or idea in Kenya award.

Exhibition stands are good

Advantages of exhibition stands

Now then. Exhibitions offer a perfect opportunity to interact with clients in an informal setting when they are more relaxed. As opposed to an office, for instance. Exhibitions, as the name suggests, offer a perfect opportunity for companies to exhibit themselves to a captive audience. An audience naturally inclined to listening in on what is on offer. Further, exhibitions are a perfect forum for companies to come to the customer. To let the customer know of their existence or see them in a different, more positive light. To waste such an opportunity and investment by placing a clueless individual in the stand, in the name of a salesperson, is a shame.

Exhibition stand engagement ideas

To be sure, salespeople and companies who waste the opportunity at such exhibitions should borrow a leaf from what we commonly refer to as stalls. Choose any, whether in Nairobi’s CBD or Kibera’s Toi market. As you pass by stalls you will hear welcoming voices and feel the warmth of these informal sales people. “Karibu customer; Ingia tu ni sawa (Come on in; feel free); Karibu jeans (Please come and see our collections of jeans); Sema tukusaidie customer (How may we help you?); Kuona ni bure (Viewing is free)’’ and on and on. You’ve been there, you know this. The salespeople in these much less elaborate, much less capital intensive, and much less formal stands will not fail to acknowledge your presence as a prospect and sometimes attempt to make a sale.

What makes a good exhibition stand? Exhibition stands

It has been said that the most fundamental needs of any human being is the desire to be appreciated. Acknowledging a prospect meets this desire. Salespeople at these comparatively simple stands tend to realise and practice this with much more frequency, professionalism and success than their counterparts at the grand stands regularly found at KICC, Sarit Centre, Village Market and such other venues. As companies invest in exhibitions, to maximise their returns, they should invest even more in choosing the staff to man them.

Exhibition stands are as good as the staff manning them. No amount of colourful brochures, elaborate branding, bowls of sweets, bounded guest books or grand standing can take the place of an effective salesperson.

Read: Sell at exhibition stand like a matatu tout


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