I was recently invited to visit several customer sites to gather user data for future products in the context of a sales call. We had an hour at most with these folks. The rep set the tone, then turned it over to me about halfway through. The company is committed to continuous improvement, and has a healthy and mature design practice at the mother-ship, but it surprises me that user research is done alongside sales. (It's a B-to-B company with technical products and a fairly long sales cycle.)
I'm wondering if others have been invited on sales ride-alongs, also, and if there are any strategies for maximizing the little time you have while managing the somewhat conflicting agendas of sales and research. I am choosing to look at this experience as an opportunity to sell ux to the larger team, even if I do not get the depth of insight I would like out of it.
What has worked for you, and what hasn't worked so well, when it comes to tagging along with your sales team to collect information from the field? Thanks in advance for any insights!