Microsofts Sales Force Evolves

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-05-23 Print this article Print

Continuing to evolve Microsofts sales force is another key driver going forward, Witts said, and Microsoft expects to significantly grow the size of its sales force over the next five years. "Weve actually grown our [enterprise group] sales force by 60 percent over the last five years and I think we could grow it another 60 percent in the next five years. We have also been growing our on-site services team by 16 percent compound annually and we will continue to do that, so we can get to 23,000 people inside the enterprise in the next five years," Witts said.
The number of specialists in the enterprise groups sales force is also likely to double to 50 percent over that period, Witts said.
This "specialist" designation will not just mean that they know all about the individual technology sets, but increasingly that they understand things like straight-through processing, claims, point-of-sale or branch. "This is very much what I would call cross-workload or industry solutions," he said. The enterprise group is also formally setting up industry and specialist units to cover vertical specialization on the workloads or industry solutions, and those will support the account teams that cover the clients, he said. Those moves are of growing concern to some partners, who wonder why Microsoft is building up its sales and services forces and making them more vertically specialized, if it does not plan to increase the amount of business it does directly with customers, much of which will come at the expense of their partners. Gartners Hayward is not convinced that Microsoft will necessarily succeed with this shift, he said. "This is very different from the model that Microsoft has traditionally operated under and it is very far from a foregone conclusion that it will be successful with it," he said. "If they have to move into the true enterprise-computing world they will have to start dealing with the vertical specialization of channels which organize that way. And that, at the end of the day, is where a whole lot of the issues around competition between Microsoft and partners like SAP is going to come from," he said. "At the moment theyre doing this clever dance around one another, evidenced by the recent Mendocino announcement, but that does not mask the fact that, over the longer term, while they may not be going for exactly the same revenue stream, the issue of who is driving the bus will come to the front," he said. To read more about Microsoft and SAPs "Mendocino" project, click here. Traditionally, SAP had been used to "driving the bus" with its customers as Microsoft had not been in that space, but as it increasingly moved into that space, "A conflict that did not exist previously arose," Hayward said. Large companies like Microsoft, IBM and SAP AG can no longer play the simple, dominant and paternalistic role that they were used to due to the complexity of the new relationships they are entering into, he said. Microsofts model had always been removed from what was going on in the brains of its customers decision makers, but it now had to create exactly the types of account relationships that IBM and SAP had cultivated for many years. "So, in that sense, Microsoft is having to learn a new game more than the others," Hayward said. Next Page: Microsoft insists partners shouldnt feel threatened.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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