Last week while Hugh Jackman was performing on Broadway in the play “A Steady Rain,” he broke from the script to chastise an audience member for their ringing mobile phone. Co-star Daniel Craig piled on, too.
The two actors earned big applause from the theater audience for calling attention to the inconsiderate person who didn’t shut their phone off. The cell phone owner let the phone ring for over a minute, offending the rest of the audience who paid good money to be there in person.
I think Jackman and Craig would be so intimidating on stage because I’d alway have their major film personas, Wolverine and James Bond, in the back of my mind. Tick off Jackman, and you might see the shiny tips of Wolverine’s adamantium triple claws. Annoy Craig, and risk looking down the business end of his Walther PPK.
Perhaps you can see where I’m going with this. Ever have a booth staffer get on their cell phone, even though your company paid thousands to exhibit at the trade show? Not only are they out of commission to generate leads, but they are also sending a signal to trade show attendees that your company doesn’t care about them.
Now imagine Hugh Jackman reading that staffer the riot act about his cell phone ringing and ringing. And maybe shredding the cell phone with his long metal claws.
While that vision is satisfying to consider, alas, it would be a short-lived joy. If you have to resort to intimidation at the show to tame your booth staffers, it’s too late. No staffer wants to be called out in public, and they will pay you back with even poorer performance.
The time to act is long before the trade show, when you are picking your booth staffers. You want the kind of team player who knows they are there to take leads, not their cell phone calls. Choose staffers who are personable enough to confidently engage with prospects, but not so overconfident that they arrogantly won’t take coaching, either before or at the show.
Booth staffers will be more focused on taking leads and less focused on answering their phones when you explain just how much your trade show presence is costing your company at the show. Make it very specific. Tell them how much you’ve paid, per show attendee, just to get access to attendees. Even share with staffers your show costs per minute. But also share the company goals, including the expected sales the show will generate — if they help do their part.
Once your hand-chosen booth staffers can see just how much your company requires their total commitment while they are staffing your booth, the less likely you’d need Hugh Jackman to be the superhero booth captain. No claws required.
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