11 pro tips for staffing an exhibition stand

01 ex man the stand blog 1

You have a beautiful bespoke exhibition stand. It clearly embodies your brand identity, whilst looking much more professional than your competitors. So, why are you still not reaching target customers?

The design of your stand isn’t everything, there are also some very practical tips for the stand that can greatly increase its effectiveness. Remember, your staff represent the brand at all times and should always uphold its values.

Ignoring the seemingly small things can often make a very big difference to the overall success of your stand. We have put together a list of top tips and common mistakes to avoid when working on the exhibition stand to ensure you have a terrific trade show experience.

  • phones and laptops AWAY!

Do not use phones whilst manning the stand- This can appear uninterested and rude to customers, even if you are simply looking something up, or doing work on your device. It is important to keep proactive on your stand and be ready for any customers, or questions that may arise. Similarly, working from a laptop can also discourage customers as it gives off the impression that you are busy and prevents them from engaging with you.

  • plan your pitch (the first question, at least)

Asking the wrong opening questions- First impressions can make all the difference, and opening questions are your first opportunity to spark customer interest. It is crucial that you do not shut customers down with closed questions to which they can only answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. In contrast, open ended questions can provide much more detail about the customer and importantly, encourages the respondent to give information about how they think and feel. This not only gives you more detail as to what they are looking for but also, makes the customer feel like the conversation is more active and not a one-sided sales pitch.

  • slow and steady wins the race

Let people browse. Whilst it is greatly important to be active and engaging with customers on the trade show stand, it is equally important not to pounce on customers and come across as an aggressive seller. If you can see a customer is enjoying looking at the products you have to offer, then let them have a browse. You can always engage with them afterwards, just make sure you are nearby for any questions they may have.

  • dress to impress

Coherence is key to maintaining brand identity and whilst they may seem unimportant, the clothes you wear can make a big difference to the overall stand image. Looking too casual can give the wrong impression if your brand is focussed on luxury, and likewise wearing a suit sends the wrong message if you are selling comic books. Think about your target audience and what clothes would best represent your brand to them.

  • "do you work here?"

Avoid this question by wearing name badges - people love to know who it is they are talking to as it can make the experience much more personal. Wearing a name tag is an excellent conversation starter and can help customers to identify you.

  • go somewhere else for lunch

Staff eating lunch on the stand not only looks messy, but also it gives the impression that you are not ready to have a conversation with the customer - we're all taught not to talk with our mouths full, so there's no way anyone is going to try and start a conversation with you! Chewing food can greatly distract customers from your brand and make them want to take their business elsewhere.

  • rest your legs, but NOT on the stand

Although manning the stand can be tiring, staff sitting down can look disinterested and as though they are not ready for a conversation. Stands look much more inviting and encourage more visitors if staff are eagerly on hand and ready, rather than slouching on a seat. You'll undoubtedly need to take a load off your feet at some point, but do yourself a favour and take a proper break away from the stand.

  • keep things tidy

Even the best bespoke exhibition stand can be let down by leaving rubbish in view of the customers. Make sure there are enough bins and that these are regularly emptied so they don’t overfill. A clean, orderly stand portrays a much more unified message to customers and better represents your brand. Make sure to keep other areas tidy too - put back products after you've shown them to the customer, keep your reception desk clear and clean.

  • keep your collateral near by

Visitors will see hundreds of stands at any given show, so it is crucial that they have something to remember your company by and a number to call with further enquires. Having business cards to hand can help to secure future business and make your stand feel more professional. Ensure you have more than enough business cards on the stand for prospective buyers so you don’t run out on the day and make sure you can access them quickly. The same goes for catalogues, flyers, supplements and price lists - don't make the lead wait for your marketing collateral!

  • 'touch marketing'

On a similar note, let people touch your product, you do not want to behave like a security guard on your own stand. Let customers literally get a feel for your brand, and they will be much more inclined to make a sale - people have more affinity for things that they have held in their hands.

  • stand back, please

Talking of behaving like a security guard, don’t block the front of your stand, either with furniture OR staff. The front of your stand is the gateway for customers access so it is vital not to block this with pillars, furniture, stock, or people. You want your stand to feel open and inviting which is much more difficult if you are blocking the entrance.

We hope these tips can help your brand get the most out of its trade show experience and take your stand to the next level of success. If you would like to talk to us about your own bespoke exhibition stand requirements then please don't hesitate to get in contact.

If you'd like to take this further and book some on-stand training for your sales team, then we can recommend the services of http://manningthestand.co.uk/

SOME BONUS TIPS - as a thank you for reading this far, here's a few final tips!


Include a private meeting space if possible - a private room to facilitate meetings is a great addition to your exhibition stand. It gives the staff somewhere to talk in private and it also makes big clients feel like they matter. Taking clients aside to a separate, built for purpose meeting space is very professional. It allows you to go into greater detail with your pitch, whilst reassuring customers that they are in secure hands.

Save space for messaging. Product is greatly important to showcase the quality you produce, however this can be vague and confusing without headings. Give the customers a bit more information about the products in order for them to clearly get a feel for your brand.

Eye line is buy line - merchandising is often overlooked but has a tremendous influence over what a customer purchases. Do not make the mistake of putting high value items down low, as they are more likely to be ignored. Instead, place them directly in the customer’s line of sight and you will have a much greater chance of increasing your sales.


One common mistake is not following up on leads. Research suggests that the majority of trade show leads never receive a follow-up after the event. A 2010 study showed that 70% of exhibitors had little to no formal plan for post show follow ups, leading to a direct loss of sales. Before you exhibit, have a clear action plan clearly detailing how, and who will follow up on leads after the show. Make sure all leads are clearly documented so you don’t miss any potential customers - as we said at the beginning, trade shows are EXPENSIVE to attend so leads should be treated like gold dust and have a strong follow up plan in place.