There are all sorts of interesting people working the various exhibit hall booths at ISTE and other conference. There are as I see it several groups or types.
Some are all about closing the sale. Not necessarily for you to take something away and give them a check but they are all about convincing you to buy. They are not going to be easy to get away from. They are doing their job and are not bad people but you may get more marketing speak and less useful information than you will from some of the other people. Sometimes these people used to be in the classroom so don’t always write them off.
Companies look to bring real classroom teachers to work at their booths. Large companies are more likely to do this than small companies. You’ll find lots of teachers at the Microsoft booth for example. These are my favorite people to talk to in the exhibit hall. They use the tools/products, they love the tools/products but best of all they can tell you how they work in a real classroom with real students. Find these people, talk to them, and get their contact information as they can be very helpful in the future.
Sometimes these are marketing people. in a role called “evangelist.” Sometimes they are actually developers of the product. You’ll see a lot of these people at smaller companies. These are the people who work on the product every day. They know it. The people who come to conferences from this group tend to be good listeners. They want to know how to make the product better for YOU. Also they often talk to a lot of people using their product and can share a lot of ideas. These are the people who can make the product better for you though so it is usually worth talking to them.
Not often in the booth. More likely than not someone else working in the booth will introduce you although in small companies the CEO may also be wearing the Product People hat and talking to everyone. For a big company these people will be in meetings a lot with people who make buying decisions. They’ll likely be wearing suits too.
What did I mess? Did I mischaracterize anyone? What is your exhibit hall experience like?