Oracle Shakes Up North American Sales

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-06-14 Email Print this article Print

The campaign to reshuffle its sales force has taken on new urgency as the database giant seeks to digest its recent acquisitions of PeopleSoft and Retek without scaring off customers or partners.

Reshuffling its North American sales organization is Oracle's latest bid in an ongoing campaign to file down the teeth of its infamously carnivorous sales force. The campaign has taken on new urgency as the database giant seeks to digest its recent acquisitions of PeopleSoft and Retek without scaring off customers or partners.

To wit, the Redwood Shores, Calif., company reportedly has plugged Ted Bereswill, former director of the eastern region of Oracle Corp.'s North American sales, into a position as leader of the vendor's entire North American technology sales operation.

Bereswill takes over the western region from Dan Stoks, who reportedly will head up Retek Global Sales and Consulting.

Finally, Oracle has reportedly promoted John Boucher to become senior vice president of North American commercial applications.

Oracle executive vice president Keith Block reportedly disclosed internally that the shakeup will likely be announced at Oracle's annual sales event this week in Las Vegas.

The personnel moves were disclosed internally within documents viewed by CRN. Oracle did not respond to requests for comment on the news reports.

The battle for Oracle is to make over the sales force's long-held reputation of being tough to work with. "Their sales people are known for being very arrogant, in general," said Tony Baer, an analyst for onStrategies.

"'Oracle partner' was considered for a long time to be an oxymoron. … And even though I'm sure they have good vertical people, it's not known for being very [good at selling into vertical markets]."

The attempts to change predate Oracle's acquisition of PeopleSoft, finalized in January, and its acquisition of retail applications vendor Retek, a company Oracle took control of in April.

For example, in July 2004, Oracle issued the company's first-ever set of guidelines to instruct its sales staff in North America on how to play nice with partners, including channels, ISVs, resellers, integrators and VARs.

The simplified set of six guiding principles instructed sales staff to, among other things, identify and work with partners in accounts and to respect a given partner's "position and value-add" in those accounts.

In spite of such actions, the word on the street is that Oracle's biggest challenge following the epic swallowing of PeopleSoft Inc. still has been to repair its relationship with the channel.

Analysts and consultants say Oracle's acquisitions have certainly upped the ante, as the database giant battles IBM and Microsoft Corp. for database sales and plays second fiddle to SAP AG in enterprise applications.

"I've been getting, over the transom, background noise that Oracle is trying to be more nice nowadays," Baer said. "After swallowing PeopleSoft, they realized they can't act the same as they've always acted and keep PeopleSoft customers.

"This dates back to when [Oracle CEO Larry Ellison] let out the opening shot: 'Oh, we just wanted to take them out of the market,' to [Oracle's current stance of] saying they'll support PeopleSoft for 10 years or whatever."

Wherever Oracle is a runner-up to SAP in enterprise applications sales, that means Oracle has to be more customer-centric, Baer said.

An attitude adjustment on dual core?

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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