If you went to Dreamforce expecting to discover smart sales and marketing tools you didn’t yet know about, you’re in luck. But then again, “not so much.”

My number one goal was to interview specific vendors (65 to be exact). The Expo was open for 21 hours during the four day event which seemed like plenty. When I did the math, however, I realized I would have to limit my visits to less than 20 minutes if I was going to see all 65 vendors. Alas, there were problems with the math: I didn’t have the full 21 hours.

And neither did other attendees.They had sessions to attend, parties to join, meals to eat, and email to manage. When I estimated my “lost” time – I had only 7 hours remaining to visit booths.

Dreamforce '11 crowdDuring my 7 hours, I was able to pack-in 27 interviews – that’s about one every 15 min. But that’s not normal. I declined on-the-spot demos which would’ve easily consumed 30 minutes each. Because of the show’s popularity the show-floor was packed. During its busiest hours it was difficult to move around and difficult to find an available vendor rep who wasn’t already engaged with a prospect demo. I had appointments with most companies which helped somewhat.

Given my experience, I would estimate that an average attendee was able to see half (if that) of the number of products that I saw. Therefore, with more than 200 vendors exhibiting,  the average attendee may have missed out on 93% of the booths. That’s a lot of lost opportunity for both vendors and end-users. Can you argue the numbers? of course! This is “back-of-the-napkin” analysis for sure. But I bet I’m not far off.

It’s heart-breaking really, to imagine that you may have missed the one or two (or more) products that would be ideal for your organization to consider. Or conversely, to imagine the vendor whose product is a perfect fit, not having the chance to talk with you.

I don’t know what the solution is. Perhaps it’s to plan who you want to see ahead of the show and stick to the plan; to laser focus on those you want to see and not be distracted; to cut demos short so you’ll have time for all. If you plan to go next year, be sure to stay for the last day of the expo when the crowds start to disperse and the atmosphere is a lot less frenzied. And use our Dreamforce Expo planning guide to assist you with your booth strategy.

And if you’re wondering what you might’ve missed, you can download our Dreamforce ’11 Wrap-up report.

See you next year Dreamforce!