Take a moment to think about any behaviors you may have overlooked in the past with fresh eyes and imagine how your staff may react in the moment while representing your company in public (as well as how they might like to react if they weren’t censoring themselves). Secrets, scandals, and corporate drama may be sensitive topics to discuss but, in order to help your booth staff protect your company’s image (and themselves as needed) on-site, these five topics must be included in your next pre-show training session.
Secrets, Scandals, and Corporate Drama
During event preparation, sensitive areas like secrets, scandals, and corporate drama are often overlooked. You train your staff to discuss company information and serve as a good booth staffer, but don’t forget to enable them to protect your image and present your offerings without releasing any of the skeletons your company is hiding in the closet. To accomplish this, here are five topics you should be sure to include in your future pre-show training sessions:
1. New and Upcoming Product Releases
In a competitive marketplace, it’s easy to get caught up in comparisons and, when your newest, not yet released, product is sure to be the next big thing (especially compared to what is currently available), it can be difficult to keep your excitement in check. A great deal of care and consideration is put towards the launch of a new product so any premature mention of your upcoming offerings will impair the impact of that planning. Special consideration should be put towards informing your team as to what “common knowledge” is shared only within your staff and what information is available to the public. It may even be helpful to put further discussion of confidential offerings on hold for the week before an event to help your staff refocus their talking points.
2. Specials Not Available to All Attendees
Encourage your booth staff to become active listeners and better understand an attendee’s situation before making any promises or blanket statements. For example, if a sales representative typically handles major accounts and there are special allowances available to only those clients, he or she may be unaware of the packages and pricing structure available to smaller accounts or new accounts. Educate your staffers about the different offerings available to each type of client or create a policy that provides specific talking points and a contact person to discuss anything above and beyond that set of information. Any promises made during your event should be honored after you return, so ensure that your staff is only making promises you can (and would like to) keep.
3. Pertinent Legal Matters
These days, almost every company has just finished, is currently in the middle of, or will soon be preparing for a lawsuit. While we’d hope that the other professionals involved treat this situation with the decorum it calls for, unfortunately, we don’t always get what we want. Don’t let your staff become blind sighted by those involved. Especially if your company is “winning,” the other parties may be less than enthusiastic about seeing you and take their feelings out on your staff. Preparing a few quick phrases to diffuse any situation can be especially helpful in this instance and making it a point to personally notice which visitors are in your booth at any given time (so you can step in if needed) will help your staff to maintain their focus.
4. Recent Personnel Transitions
If you have made any changes within your staff or vendors recently, you may encounter your former team members during your next event. Oftentimes, event registration and travel plans are confirmed up to one year in advance, so some of your recently lost staffers may choose to attend as a part of their continuing education or job search. Others may be attending the event to represent a new company. Update your staffers about the recent transitions of which they may not be fully aware – consider which of your recently lost connections have been or will be in attendance and how your relationship has changed since your last encounter. Be polite and keep the past in the past, at least in public. In case any potential issues do arise during your encounter, practice a few ways to move the conversation somewhere private, continue at another time, or simply part ways.
5. VIP Clients and Executives
Whether your top client berates everyone around her until she’s had her morning coffee or your CEO becomes significantly more “hands on” after he’s had an adult beverage or two, your staff should be informed and given an opportunity to decide the extent of their interaction. I hope your situation isn’t as extreme as the ones I’ve mentioned but, if any inappropriate behavior is expected, your staff should be protected. Having an uncomfortable conversation before the event will be much easier than processing a lawsuit after. Take a moment to think about any behaviors you may have overlooked in the past with fresh eyes and imagine how your staff may react in the moment while representing your company in public (as well as how they might like to react if they weren’t censoring themselves).
Secrets, scandals, and corporate drama may be sensitive topics to discuss but, in order to help your booth staff protect your company’s image (and themselves as needed) on-site, these five topics must be included in your next pre-show training session.
About the author
Robyn Davis was raised by self-employed parents, learning the ins and outs of business…