Microsoft Launches Its Next-Gen Sales Strategy

Microsoft's reorganized sales team will focus on selling to enterprise customers Microsoft Solution Offerings, or MSOs.

Today, July 1, is the kick-off for Microsoft Corp.s fiscal year 2003--and for its revamp of its sales strategy.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant announced last week that it plans to add 450 direct salespeople to its U.S. ranks in FY 2003. Microsoft says this means the U.S. sales force will grow by more people in fiscal 2003 than it has over the past 10 years in total. Currently, Microsoft has 6,000 sales, marketing and services employees on its payroll in the United States, Canada and Latin America.

Microsoft also is reorganizing its sales team from focusing on five key vertical industry segments to 12. These 12 are financial services, telecommunications, state and local government, federal government, education, retail, health care, automotive manufacturing, high-tech manufacturing, oil and gas, media and entertainment, and professional services.

Microsofts sales team will focus much of its energy on selling to enterprise customers what the company is calling Microsoft Solution Offerings (MSOs). MSOs are bundles of hardware, Microsoft and third-party software, and services that Microsoft plans to sell jointly with its channel partners. Microsofts job is to act as "the catalyst" to integrate the platforms to form "end-to-end, customer-focused enterprise-quality offerings," according to company literature.

Microsoft already has announced a handful of MSOs, including solutions for Intranets, Internet, Hosted Messaging and Collaboration, and Supplier Enablement. The BizTalk Accelerators Microsoft has been rolling out for manufacturing and health care customers are just MSOs under a different brand name. MSOs include methodologies and blueprints, as well as actual code.

The company has plenty more MSOs up its sleeve, especially in the business and productivity area, according to Microsoft Group VP Jeff Raikes, who was in New York last week to keynote the TechXNY trade show.

"Weve been evolving our field organization for a couple of years," Raikes said. "During the last year, we felt we needed more solutions based on knowledge work."

Raikes decided last fall to build a group spearheaded by Ted Johnson (former co-founder of Visio Software, which Microsoft acquired in 2000) and Steve Stone (former general manager of Microsofts eBook unit) to build MSOs aimed at knowledge workers. By the end of next year, the group should have a staff of up to 50.

In the short term, Raikes says, watch for Microsoft to launch more MSOs in the areas of e-learning, enterprise management of Microsoft Project Server 2002, and Six Sigma quality management.

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