As a former “Coin-operated idiot” I took huge enjoyment from reading this article. The author states quite rightly that "Having a salesperson in the room means bringing in a bullshit meter."The value that sales reps bring is different than marketing research. They are on the front line using the product, describing it, discovering bugs, and learning about other competitive technologies. Embrace the “Coin-operated idiots”.
A lot of product management is like being in a big, dark closet: Everyone’s agreeing with each other, in the office, satisfying themselves internally … and then six months later they pop out with a product. (And by product I mean a full product, not a feature release, though both of these should equally benefit from reps’ input.) Having a salesperson in the room means bringing in a bullshit meter. The sales rep is the one who is going to say, “I know you’re excited that this product was built on/with such-and-such, but so what? That’s not going to excite my customers. How is this differentiated from everything else out there?” They’ll ask the hard questions.