Trade Show Chronicles – Setting up a training session (chapter 10)
This article belongs to the “Trade Show Chronicles” series. It tells the story of Andrew, young sales executive newly employed by a Hong Kong company that will attend his first trade show in a few months time. From understanding what exhibitions are all about to organizing the booth, recruiting promoters and following-up on leads, Andrew will live a complete adventure unique to the world of exhibitions.
I haven’t called Charles for a few days already. I think I am now able to manage things on my own – no need to disturb him unnecessarily. I am starting to really feel “in charge” and I am more confident each day.
I have decided to handle the whole training process on my own. I have informed Karen she would not need to worry about this part – this is being handled!
When I arrive in the office this morning I lock myself in the small meeting room, steal the white board and a few pens and start preparing my plan.
When I get out, two hours later, I have figured everything out. I invite Karen to join me and I expose my plan:
– “We must invite our 3 part-time promoters to come to our office 2 weeks before the event. We will organize a three hours training for demonstration – what are the benefits of the product, how it works, what are the specs, and so on”. I show a complete demonstration plan to Karen and spend 20 minutes explaining it in details then I stop a few seconds to leave Karen a chance to jump in.
– “Wow, that’s great… But you are aware of the fact that you actually need to PAY these promoters to come to a training?”
– “I sure do! But think about it: we will spend a couple hundred more… and get much more leads from the event! Isn’t it worth it?”
– “Probably’ she says, still thinking. I don’t give her sufficient time to give more feedback and say:
– “Then it is done!” and I leave the room, full of pride and confidence.
When I leave the office I cannot resist the temptation to show off a little with Charles. I dial his number, rehearsing my perfect speech in my head.
– “What?!” he says when picking up my call. He is obviously not in a good day and I instantly loose all confidence.
– “Hi Charles, it’s Andrew… hope I’m not calling at the wrong time…”
– “No, that’s fine” he says, sounding impatient. “What’s going on Andrew?”
– “Just wanted to catch up with you… to make sure I keep you in the loop and let you know what’s going on on my side.”
He doesn’t respond. I decide to keep going.
– “I have hired a few promoters this week. One promoter and two hostesses to be precise.”
– “And…” his short temper increases the pressure on my shoulders, making it difficult to organize my thoughts. “And I’ve prepared an action plan for their training!”
– “Glad to hear that Andrew!” he says somehow enthusiastic. “Tell me more, what will your training be like?”
I quickly regain confidence as he shows some enthusiasm and reply:
– “I will spend two hours with them showing them how to perform a demonstration!” I say proudly.
– “And…?” replies Andrew, waiting for more details.
– “Well… that’s it. We will show them the product, how it works, talk about USP, features, benefits…”
– “Do you really believe that could be enough?” I feel like a black hole in my stomach absorbing everything around. “Can you remind me your goal? Why are you participating in this event?”
– “To get extra business…”
– “Come on Andrew, let’s not go through this again!” he says, obviously exasperated. “How do you plan on achieving that?!” All traces of confidence and pride have been wiped out of my mind. I’m completely depressed and scared. Quick, I think of an answer and reply:
– “I plan on getting more business by converting prospects into customers. I will get these prospects from leads captured on my booth through discussions with visitors.”
– “Great! Great, Andrew. That’s exactly it!” I give a hint of a smile… not that bad after all! But he doesn’t give up:
– “So what should your promoters help you with? What crucial element do you need to teach them?”
I hesitate and finally decide to answer:
– “Taking notes to help me capturing leads?” I say shyly.
– “Don’t you think it would be a giant waste of resources to hire someone to take notes on your behalf on an exhibition when there are so many other things he could help with? Think Andrew, think!”
– “I guess he could help capturing leads by himself…”
– “Right! That’s it! Exactly! You got it!” he says with non-hidden relief. I must admit I am quite relieved myself. He keeps going: “You must train your promoters and hostesses, not to smile or take notes like robots, but to be your brand ambassadors. That means promoting your brand, presenting your product, explaining its features, but also…” I cut him to end his sentence I believe I could predict:
– “… recognizing a good lead and capturing it!”
– “You are right! So what should your next move be?”
– “I will interview each of them… define who’s got the best potential and train them.”
– “And what should you train them on?”
– “There shall be one section about the company’s history, mission and vision… one section about the products features and benefits as well as demonstration… and one part about questions to ask and information to collect once the lead qualified.”
– “All clear Andrew, good job! But do you know yet how to qualify a good lead yourself?”
I have read a good article about it lately* and I am pretty convinced I could differentiate a good lead from a bad one.
– “Sure! It is all a matter of asking the right questions, I can do that!”
– “Great then! I gotta go Andrew, I have quite a few problems of my own to deal with”.
Before I have a chance to reply Charles already hanged up. Now, I need to swallow my pride and tell Karen my initial idea was bad… It feels like tomorrow won’t be an easy day.
When Karen arrives in the office, she sees me starting at the whiteboard and wave at me:
– “Hi Andrew! Early bird, ah? What’s going on?” she says with a smile.
– “Just reviewing my plan… I’ve been thinking about it and… 2 hours training might not be enough after all…”
– “Someone talked with Charles last night” she teases me with a large smile. I can feel my face getting red and decide not to reply.
– “So I’m thinking we should organize a screening first – find out who would be the best candidates for this job then interview them”.
– “You want to screen and interview promoters… to distribute flyers?” she replies, skeptical.
– “Not distribute flyers. I want them to be part of the team and help us sell!”
– “But… that’s not something you learn in a few minutes! It took years for our team to figure out how to sell, and you expect newbies to catch up instantly?”
– “No, of course. I expect them to assist us the best they could and pass us the leads when things get too complicated. Here is my idea: first week we advertise the jobs and screen applications. Second week we do group interviews to speed up the process. Third week we identify the best candidates and bring them in for a training.”
– “Alright… what would that training be all about?”
– “I’m glad you ask!” I say with a large smile.
For the rest of the morning, I explain my training plan in details.
– “So, what do you think Karen?”
– “Pretty great… but I’m getting hungry! Let’s go lunch”.
Karen and I go to a Dim Sum place – a traditional Chinese restaurant popular for family brunches and team lunches. When opening the office door to go to the restaurant, our boss catches us:
– “You guys go for lunch?”
– “Yes, we go to the Dim Sum place nearby… there are still a few things we want to review regarding the booth promoters training”
– “Perfect, I come with you!”
I look at Karen – why did I let her talk? Our relaxing lunch is now turning into a stressful meeting.
Next Chapter – The right booth approach