Report: Microsoft Salespeople Are Fed Up With COO Turner's Policies

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner, despite playing a key role in Microsoft's meteoric growth over the eight years since he joined the company, isn't the right executive to lead the company's transition to selling cloud services.

That's what a source described as a "long-term member" of Microsoft's sales team told Business Insider in a story published Tuesday, which cited multiple anonymous sources inside the Redmond, Wash., company.

"The sales model at Microsoft is broken. It has been for years," the source told Business Insider. "Ultimately, I think it will require a leadership change for [CEO] Satya [Nadella] to even have influence on sales strategy. I like Kevin Turner quite a bit, but I’m not sure that his experience will translate to the services world."

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It's no secret that Turner isn't well-liked by some employees and partners, but that comes with the territory when you’re an executive known for cost-cutting. But Business Insider's sources seem to suggest that the problems run much deeper than that.

Turner is blamed for not sufficiently incenting Microsoft salespeople to sell cloud services, for raising sales quotas to unrealistic levels, and for paying more attention to selling Windows licenses than gauging customers' cloud services needs, among other missteps, according to Business Insider.

This last point caught the attention of one Microsoft partner, who told CRN that based on what he has seen, Microsoft is putting lots of pressure on salespeople to sell cloud services.

"Instead of finding the business value in selling the cloud, Microsoft sales reps are in a hurry to shove cloud down everyone’s throat -- whether it fits or not," said the partner, who didn't want to be named.

In addition, part of Microsoft salespeople's annual bonuses is predicated on selling cloud and devices, another source familiar with the matter told CRN, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

Turner has certainly been adamant about getting channel partners to sell cloud. "We're a company for partners, built by partners, with partners. I want all 600,000-plus selling and transacting in the cloud," Turner said at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in July.

Turner was former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's right-hand man, so there's an argument to be made that a fresh set of eyes at the COO position could benefit the company. But Turner appears to have the support of Nadella, who in a webcast last month mentioned him by name as an example of Microsoft's senior leadership strength.

And while Microsoft discontinued its stack ranking system in November -- doing away with a setup that was widely loathed by employees for fomenting discord in the ranks -- the company is still using Turner's scorecard system to measure employee performance.

In the past two to three years, Microsoft has transformed its approach to sales to focus on devices and services, a Microsoft spokesperson told CRN in response to the issues raised in the Business Insider story.

As Microsoft gets more acquainted with the new sales model, it looks ready to make any program adjustments that may be needed.

"We are continually evolving our training and development, compensation and rewards approach each year to recruit, develop, reward and retain the best talent," the Microsoft spokesperson said. "Going forward, we will continue to evolve to ensure the best environment for our people and the best devices and services for our customers."