[Notice: if at some point during the reading of this blogpost – which is partially an experiment in investigating decreased readability due to extensive use of side-thoughts – you have the feeling of losing track, an alternative version with color coding for improved readability is available here.]
If you’ve ever been employed in a sales position, chances are that at some point you had to work on a booth at a trade show. To an outsider this can look like pretty easy work: just hanging around on in some big hall all day and talking a bit to people visting the booth. Clearly those people have never had any first hand experience at it!
One of the surprising facts is that the work is actually more tiring on slow days, when there are not a lot of visitors to the fair, than on extremely busy days. This is partly due (apart from the fact that obviously time flies when you have a lot to do) to the fact that prior to the trade show there has been a workshop to prepare the sales team for the event, organized by a specialized trainer or by someone in (middle)management to train the team on how to behave while working on the booth.
One of the standard elements (next to the usual suspects such as “always smile, never sit, don’t eat (or drink) while in sight”) is a calculation of what exactly the booth costs to the company, preferably per minute (no doubt in order to make you very conscious that any minute you spend loitering instead of throwing in your maximal effort is costing the company a fortune [on slow days this might trigger some thoughts about at which point exactly sales jobs will be at risk, given the no doubt horrible cost/benefit ratio (and what the chances are that your very own job will be amongst those)]), but somehow often not taking into account for that calculation that there are several people working on the booth and that therefore each individual should not be held accountable for the total cost, but rather – let’s take a situation with four colleagues working on the booth by way of example – for a quarter (of course the specialized [and usually with an extra cost associated to that level of specialization] trainer or (middle)manager cannot be held responsible for not taking into account kleinscheiss [most of you will not be familiar with of this word yet, but I picked it up from the blog of a colleague (https://timsrandomcontent.wordpress.com/) and promised him to find some kind of context to use it (my only dilemma left at this point is whether of not to use a capital letter k at the start of the word – as it is in the original German version, whareas in this situation it is a German word being used in an English context, so one could wonder which linguistic rules preside; to be honest, another question is now popping up: how far can one take this nesting of side-[or should I say after-]thoughts before making your audience lose track completely), but if you possess any level of contextual interpretation skills, you should be able to guess the overall meaning of the word] such as that kind of minor calculation errors/logical fallacies).
So there you are at the booth on a slow day (it seems we made it back to the main story line! I promise to make a serious effort not to go into those profound levels of digression again – partial fail, I admit), but all of a sudden your luck seems to turn: instead of having to lure innocent tradeshow visitors to enter the booth by applying the tricks you have had to practice during the role playing part of the pre-show training mentioned before, someone is coming straight at you, seemingly highly interested in your booth (and hence in whatever you are selling – the bonus hormones start flowing instantaneously).
But then reality kicks in: (s)he has not the slightest interest in buying anythng from your company at all! On the contrary: (s)he is trying to sell some service to you – as are all of the people approaching your booth with such enthusiasm (possibly after having had some kind of pre-show training themselves). Which makes this in fact the real life equivalent of the unwanted mails you receive in your mailbox, commonly referred to as spam.