Microsoft said to be planning sales force overhaul; layoffs likely – Seattle Times

Microsoft is planning a reorganization of its sales groups that will likely bring layoffs, according to a person familiar with the matter.

It’s unclear what groups will be affected and where they are located. The shift, which could be announced as soon as next week, comes as Microsoft retools its legions of sales teams to emphasize its cloud-computing products instead of licenses for boxed software.

A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment.

Plans for a cloud-focused reorganization were reported earlier by the Puget Sound Business Journal and Bloomberg News, which said the shift will bring some of the most significant changes to the sales force in years. Local marketing efforts in various countries will be affected, Bloomberg reported.

The weeks around the end of Microsoft’s fiscal year, which was Friday, often include announcements of a corporate reorganization for the year ahead.

Microsoft’s sales groups have been in flux since the exit of longtime chief operating officer Kevin Turner last year. At the time of his departure from the company, he oversaw 51,000 employees in an umbrella organization for sales, marketing, operations and Microsoft’s corporate technology needs.

That group, Microsoft’s largest, was broken up.

Microsoft sales executive Judson Althoff took over the company’s business-oriented sales force, and Jean-Philippe Cortois received oversight for Microsoft’s foreign sales and marketing subsidiaries.

Althoff has been critical of Microsoft’s former sales approach, which he characterized as an attempt to sell Azure, Microsoft’s platform of on-demand computing power and software services, using strategies learned from decades of selling out-of-the-box software.

Layoffs announced last July — which targeted 2,850 cuts over the course of Microsoft’s just-ended fiscal year — included at least 900 employees of the sales group. Althoff said in September that Microsoft had also added to the payroll about 1,000 salespeople with specialties in selling cloud-computing products.

Microsoft at the end of March employed about 121,500 people, including 45,500 in Washington state. The total tally includes the 10,000 employees Microsoft scooped up in its $27 billion acquisition of professional social network LinkedIn in December.

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