Tough task but big reward for Office 2010 ‘warriors’

Tough task but big reward for Office 2010 ‘warriors’

Microsoft’s five Office 2010 “road warriors” face a frenetic four months promoting the vendor’s productivity software and must compete in a New Zealand Idol-style competition to secure their positions.

However, the five successful candidates can expect the annualised equivalent of a $100,000 salary and have a chance of winning $10,000 cash if they’re the top performer. Other candidates who don’t become road warriors may also have the opportunity to gain work with Microsoft or its resellers.

The local business is seeking five people, two of whom will work for distributor Express Data and three for Ingram Micro, for four months each.

A newspaper advertisement for the positions reveals Microsoft will fund distributors to the tune of $8333 gross in each of the four months a road warrior is in employment. The advertisement also reveals road warriors will attend at least one Office 2010 launch event, to be held in the three main centres in April.

Microsoft’s small and medium business sales and marketing manager Jared Pedersen says Express Data and Ingram Micro have said the full funding amount will be passed on to the road warriors.

“There’s no cut in it for them [the distributors]. We can’t dictate what [the payment] will be but I expect it will all be passed through,” he says. “[The monthly amount] annualises to about $100,000.”

The $10,000 prize from Microsoft will be determined by the number of customer visits carried out, active blogging, feedback from resellers who accompany road warriors on customer visits, distributor feedback and the number of deals closed that were initiated by a road warrior.

The five successful candidates will work hard for their rewards. Each must travel nationwide visiting two customers per day and blog weekly about their efforts to raise awareness of Office 2010. They must be available to start on 4 March, so can’t give notice periods to employers. Job offers will be made on the evening of the competition in Auckland on 2 March and applicants have 24 hours to accept or decline.

“It’s definitely intense, but they will have the support of Microsoft and the distributors and [Microsoft’s PR agency] Porter Novelli will coach on blogging.”

Pedersen adds the road warrior will be equipped with HP technology, so they can be set up to work on the road.

“It’s a bit of a tough ask, but I think two visits of one hour a day is do-able.”

Pedersen says the road warrior concept was a local initiative and the business wanted to be creative in how it promoted Office 2010.

“We determined we’re playing in a big way with distribution and that is why we are making a statement to our disties, that we want to strengthen our engagement with them.”

All applicants are pre-screened by Microsoft and those who pass this stage attend a two-hour briefing on 22 February in person or via videoconference. They then prepare for final judging by downloading the Office 2010 beta and undergoing online training. On the Idol-style judging day candidates must be present in person all day. They will be given 10 minutes to creatively present the productivity benefits of the software.

The judging panel consists of two Microsoft staff, one from each of the distributors, one from Porter Novelli and a reseller.

“We’ll leave it open for them to make an argument,” says Pederson. “We want to see what creativity is available in the market.”

He says Microsoft, the distributors and resellers might identify employable talent during the competition.

The company had received about 50 applications at the time of writing and hoped this would rise as high as 80.

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