Q&A: Kevin Johnson Promoted to Lead Microsoft Worldwide Sales, Marketing, and Services Group

REDMOND, Wash., March 25, 2003 — Microsoft has announced that Kevin Johnson has been promoted to Group Vice President of Worldwide Sales, Marketing and Services. He will lead a team that manages all of Microsoft’s sales professionals, as well as the company’s marketing and service initiatives, customer and partner programs, and product support and consulting services. Johnson fills the position previously occupied by Orlando Ayala, who recently assumed the role of Group Vice President of Worldwide Small and Mid-Market Solutions and Partners, a new position aimed at enabling the company to take advantage of new opportunities for growth in the crucial small- and mid-market segments.

Kevin Johnson, Group Vice President, Worldwide Sales, Marketing and Services, Microsoft Corporation

Johnson, an 11-year Microsoft veteran, moves to his new job after three years as Senior Vice President of Microsoft Americas. He led efforts to enable sales teams to provide tailored solutions that help customers achieve greater business agility. He was also instrumental in organizing the company’s sales teams in the United States, Canada, and Latin America around 12 key vertical markets. Despite the challenging economic climate of the last three years, sales in the Americas Region have grown consistently under Johnson’s leadership. PressPass spoke with Johnson to discuss his new position, and his vision for the Worldwide Sales, Marketing and Services Group.

PressPass: Congratulation on your promotion. Can you start by talking about what your new job entails?

Johnson: As head of Worldwide Sales, Marketing and Services, my primary responsibility is to ensure that we are focused on delivering great value to our customers and providing them with an outstanding customer experience. Our ability to achieve this grows out of how we interact and engage with our customers, how we team up with partners to deliver great solutions, and the way Worldwide Sales, Marketing and Services works with and across Microsoft’s seven business groups to provide technology and solutions that solve real business issues and help people and businesses become more efficient and more agile.

The key is connections: I believe very strongly in the importance of working to strengthen the connection from our customers to the sales force, and from the sales force directly into the product groups. This includes business of all sizes, as well as the connection with millions of developers, IT professionals and information workers who use our products every day.

PressPass: What are your main goals as Group Vice President of Worldwide Sales, Marketing and Services?

Johnson : Our primary goals are centered around customer value and satisfaction, enabling the broad community of partners, building the talent pool within Microsoft and, of course, delivering financial results. In order to deliver on this, I am very focused on three things: fundamentals, orchestration and excellence in execution. By fundamentals, I mean everything from how we connect to developers and IT professionals, how we run our marketing events, the way we make sales calls, and how we understand customers and the business issues they face. Orchestration involves how well we connect our marketing efforts to our sales process and how well we utilize the many resources, both within Microsoft as well as with partners, to deliver value to customers. If we master the fundamentals and we are great at orchestration, we then have the opportunity to achieve excellence in our operation. By doing that, we make it easy for our people in the field to deliver value to customers. When that happens, then we’re delivering not just a consistent customer experience, but also a customer experience that is consistently excellent.

PressPass: Microsoft has also announced a couple of other significant executive assignments. What does that mean for your management team?

Johnson: We have an extremely strong senior executive team leading our efforts in sales and marketing around the world, and the promotions that we’re announcing really strengthen that team. Jean-Philippe Courtois has great experience running international operations, and his promotion to CEO of Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa is a reflection of the increased responsibility that he has in the area of governance and the role of our international country managers across our commercial business and coordinating with our consumer businesses.

I’m very excited to have Andy Lees heading up our worldwide business and marketing efforts after his success managing marketing initiatives in the United States. Andy has a long track record of success in marketing at Microsoft, and his efforts are key to our global marketing approach. In addition to the global business and marketing responsibility, Andy will be responsible for the small- and mid-market customers in the U.S.

Gerri Elliott is also taking on more of a worldwide role. As Vice President of our Industry Solutions Group, Gerri will take on additional responsibility for all of our enterprise customers in the U.S. as well as our Canadian subsidiary.

With this fantastic leadership team in place, I think we’re in a great position to build on our past success, and to take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities that lie ahead.

PressPass: Can you talk about how your three years as Senior Vice President of Microsoft Americas prepared you for your new position?

Johnson: As Senior Vice President of Microsoft Americas, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with our people in field and connect closely with customers and partners. For most of my time in that position, I’ve alternated one week in field with one week in Redmond, and that has given me the chance to really learn from our customers and partners, how we add value, and where we can improve. It has also helped me learn about the challenges and opportunities that exist out in the field offices. As a result, I have been very involved with our World wide Sales, Marketing and Services Leadership Team in shaping the strategies and initiatives and building the foundation on how we work.

PressPass: When you look back at the three years you spent heading up Microsoft Americas, what are some of the most significant changes that you’ve seen?

Johnson: On a concrete level, three years ago we began a journey to focus on selling solutions and a shift toward a more specialized sales, marketing and services force. Over the last three years, we have retooled our sales professionals with solutions-selling skills, aligned our enterprise efforts around industry verticals, re-engineered our medium-size business sales process, tuned our small-business demand-generation activities, and created specialty sales forces. Today we have a specialty sales force focused on developers, a group of business productivity advisors focused on information workers, and a specialist group of technology specialists and solution sales specialists handling our server products.

In addition to the changes that strengthen our connection to customers, we’ve worked really hard to strengthen the connection between our people in the field and Microsoft’s product development teams. We’ve undertaken a fundamental transformation to make sure that this concept of connection is central to everything we do.

PressPass: What would you say is your most important accomplishment as head of Microsoft Americas?

Johnson: I am proud of the work that people throughout the organization have done to enable us to increase value to customers and improve the overall customer experience. We have made significant changes in the way we are aligned by customer, the core business processes that support our operation, the way we connect our demand generation activities to sales, and the enablement and engagement of partners. The Customer and Partner Experience (CPE) framework and initiatives that we launched last August is certainly a highlight. The movement within our field organization to proactively find and fix customer issues and concerns, with an attitude of doing whatever it takes to “make it right,” has been phenomenal. Just last week, I met with one of our largest customers who told me that he had observed a noticeable increase in focus on value and the customer experience in the last nine months. He commented that the field team was good before, but with this change they have taken the relationship to a new level.

PressPass: You’ve spoken repeatedly about the importance of connection. How does that look out in the field?

Johnson: We connect to a broad range of customers and we use many different approaches to maximize our reach and effectiveness. For example, we have a team of professionals that just do seminars and outreach events with developers. We complement that with our MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) offering, online newsgroups, and a series of “webinars” that deliver information over the Internet. We have similar efforts to connect broadly with IT professionals. We work to reach businesses of all sizes. We have a team that runs “Big Day” events for small businesses and a set of seminars and programs to connect with business decision makers. For enterprise customers, we connect by engaging to understand how their company works, what their competitive issues are, and what their business needs look like. The only way to do that is to get deeply involved with their business.

PressPass: We’ve experienced a sharp economic slowdown during the last few years. Coupled with the world events of the last few days, do you have any hesitation about taking on this job at this time?

Johnson: Certainly this is a challenging time and I have no hesitation taking on big challenges.

Given the world events of the last week, I’d like to start by saying that ensuring our employees around the world are safe and secure is apriority and the general manager in each country is doing everything to make sure that is the case.

Beyond that, there’s no doubt that recent events add to the economic uncertainties that our customers are already dealing with. In the face of a slow economy, high energy costs and other economic pressures, solutions that help businesses operate with greater efficiency, enable new applications and improve information-worker productivity are of great value. Helping customers do more with less is more important than ever. I think that means that our people have a real opportunity to do meaningful work because Microsoft truly offers the technologies and solutions that can help our customers succeed, even in these difficult economic times. That’s part of the reason why our people are so passionate about their work.

PressPass: Projecting into the future, how will you know, say, a year from now, if you’ve been successful?

Johnson: A year from now? Success is a function of how well we engage in customer and partner connection, deliver business value, and create an outstanding customer experience. To do this, we have to be excellent in the way we operate. If we do this well, the other goals will follow. We will see continued momentum around .NET and the Windows platform. We will strengthen our partner relationships and the momentum we create for partners in the marketplace. Our employees and the talent pool within Microsoft will grow and we will deliver the financial results. Our people are passionate about this. This is why they come to work every day excited because they know they are making a real difference for their customers.

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