Lessons from setting up a sales booth for the first time

Standee — check, Brochures — check, Marketing video — check, Dresses — check, camera- charged, sales pitch — prepared and feedback forms printed.

That was my idea of how sales booth at conferences work. But as any other sales plan — this one trashed too.
But lets begin with the fun facts and save the trash-can for few paragraphs later 🙂

We arrived as early as 7.30 AM for a 10 AM event — which was a first for us (we are engineers after-all) and given our abysmal record at reaching early anywhere it was a moment of pride! So you can guess how serious we were about making this work.
We explored the whole place to pick the ‘most viewed’ spot based on meticulous calculations of ‘guest-eye-movements’. After all we are a serious data-backed ML powered startup and data is now nothing less than a religion 🙂

Then we looked around for availability of ‘power points’ because we had planned to keep both out laptops on and keep running the promotional video. We had just one power point allotted so we high-jacked our neighbors power point too (after-all we came early).

We had also called up a couple on interns to help us out with the stuff (We thought we deserve to feel like CXOs once in a while).

But it turned out that with ‘morning’ the Gen-Z assumes 11 AM 😛. No hard feelings though, students have some serious stuff going on in their lives too.

Anyways, this was actually good news for our CEO and CTO who started some of their favorite activities from college — setting up the booth and decorating it. I wish I had a photo from 10 years back when in college they used to have the same kind of fun in the name of being ‘Fest coordinators’.

The tasks include — #Print posters; #never purchase cello-tape and look for it like ‘treasure-hunt’; #find spots to display posters (again using eye-motion-tracking 😛 ); #look at other stalls and copy what they did; #read own standee content and praise own efforts… the list goes on 🙂

After 2 hours of hard work, we were all set to meet the guests. And that is where the real story begins.

There are 4 key lessons we had taken away and I am sure this must be common sense in the world of B2B sales.

Lesson #1 : No one will ever read the brochure

So no need to write paragraphs with 12 font size in there. And those flat graphic icons designed by professionals seem like colored dots anyway. All people look at is — brand name — pictures — cartoons and highlights. We had a co-founder level fight over what color scheme to use in icons and whether the ‘sequence’ of brochure content was right (Fact : Everyone turned the brochure back immediately after reading the headline)

Lesson #2 : No one stays put to watch your 1 minute whiteboard video

That too with a North American accent voice over 🙂 So it is better to have a micro-mini colorful cartooned video which just screams out what you do many times over.

SELF PROMOTION ALERT : Watch www.ntalents.ai video here —

Lesson #3: Most big-ticket leads will never come finding you out on the booth

So go attend the conference first and then stalk the speakers. There is no way that they will visit the school-exhibition type stalls in the very short time that they have. And startup-philanthropy is the last thing on their minds on a Sunday evenings.

And to say the least about the posters put on pillars in walkways — if they are not life-size standees then your black-white posters merge with washroom signboards anyway. And secondly the arrows that you proudly put up with the poster will not hypnotize them to arrive at the booth, even if you are a google.

Lesson #4 : There are all kinds of people in the world

Yea, this is kind of philosophical and way too general for this context, but yes all kinds of people come to you when you sit there for hours without work.

There were people who agreed on whatever we said enthusiastically (and we thought we are so good at pitching) only to reveal later that they came to sell their stuff to us. 😐

Then there were investors of competitors who read every line on the brochure and argued on how it will never work. Although it did help us get better at face-to-face rejection handling — what-doesn’t-kill-you-makes-you-stronger is applicable here too.

Then there were ‘explorers’ who knew nothing about technology and expected us to explain everything like a professor. Not to forget few idea-exploring wannaprenuers who just wanted to walk off with the AI-ML studded brochure — as if that is what built startups.

And finally to give us some relief our mentors came in the evening with that parental-affection in their eyes to appreciate us on random stuff 🙂

Credits 🙂 Mayank Sharma & Varun Narula

Author: Deepika Anu, Co-Founder -@Ntalents.ai IIM Bangalore


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