Microsoft Director of Business & Sales Operations - Eric Ligman

Eric Ligman, Microsoft Director of Business & Sales Operations Blog

A New Year, a new adventure, a new CPE, and a new puppy

A New Year

Monday was the first day of the New Year back at work for me, and first and foremost, as I stated in my Happy New Year 2013 wishes and a sincere Thank You from all of us at Microsoft post, I’d like to offer up a huge thank you to all of the partners around the world for a fantastic 2012 and the pleasure to work with you all for another year! Working to drive our joint success with partners has always been one of the things I have always enjoyed most in my career here at Microsoft.

Just over four years ago, I made the move from the Microsoft U.S. Team to join the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group (WPG) Team to take on our Non-Managed Partner satisfaction worldwide. The next fiscal year here at Microsoft, as happens here at Microsoft from time to time, we had a re-organization, which moved my role under new leadership and gave me the chance to take on all of our Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners (SMS&P) partner satisfaction and experience here on the Worldwide (WW) Team. As with any re-organization, it presented the chance to look at how we approach the business, and the leadership and I took that opportunity to work together to re-define how we approached partner CPE (Customer & Partner Experience) in the Worldwide Partner Group. During the next three years I had the great pleasure to:

  • Work with so many of our teams here at Microsoft
  • Work with so many of our partners around the world
  • Build and execute our SMS&P partner CPE plans
  • Redefine the role of SMS&P Partner CPE Lead here in the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group
  • Redefine our approach to SMS&P Customer and Partner Experience (CPE) here in the Microsoft Worldwide SMS&P Team
  • Integrate “Voice of Partner” (bringing the external voice of the partner into Microsoft and vice versa) as a key component in our SMS&P Partner CPE execution, such as through social media, online interaction, partner user groups, partner inclusion in usability testing, developing resources, and much more

And I have to admit, I am very proud of the results that we accomplished together by the end of that three year plan. We couldn’t have accomplished what we did without you, so thank you to all of you for being a part of it and your continued partnership with Microsoft.

A New Adventure

US SMSP SignAs you know, New Years often brings with it resolutions, and resolutions are often meant to bring about change. After all, a new year, a new start, a new opportunity, right? Well, this New Year brings with it a change for me. With the New Year, I’m moving on up… literally. This past Monday, January 7th, I made my return to the Microsoft U.S. SMS&P Team as Microsoft Sales Excellence Program Manager, which means a move back to our Lincoln Square office. My desk is now on the 28th floor in Lincoln Square vs. the 3rd floor of our 121 Building, where I have been for the last 4 1/2 years, so I’m about 250 feet higher now (and oh how I love the views from this building!) 

As the Sales Excellence Program Manager for the U.S. SMS&P Solution Partner business at Microsoft, my focus is leading our Solution Partner initiatives through our Partner Account Manager (PAM) and Partner Technology Advisor (PTA) communities to deliver joint success between Microsoft and our Solution Partners through driving Business Excellence. This spans across several key initiatives here at Microsoft, such as selling capabilities, readiness, best practice sharing/implementation, and consistent execution across PAMs as well as partnering with many other teams here at Microsoft around items such as our channel incentives programs, partner tools, and more. Given my extensive background and personal experience with our Microsoft Partners and sellers, including: working for a Microsoft partner, then starting and running a channel partner for several years (with customers spanning 25 countries), then joining our Microsoft U.S. Team leading many partner initiatives before moving to our worldwide team to lead our Non-Managed Partner Experience and Satisfaction efforts before expanding to take on leading our worldwide Partner Experience and Satisfaction efforts across all of our SMS&P partners as noted above, I am very excited to be returning to the Microsoft U.S. Team to lead these initiatives! Besides, I always enjoyed being a part of the Microsoft U.S. Team and it is going to be wonderful to once again get to work with so many fantastic people I used to work with years ago, as well as so many new people that I haven’t had the chance to work with yet. From a timing perspective, today is my final transition day (I’ve been doing both jobs this week) and on Monday I make the cut over the the new role full-time. By the way, here’s that view from my desk I was telling you about:



Let me answer a few questions I’ve received, such as: Who’s taking on CPE now? and What about your online/social items (just like you asked when I moved from the U.S. to Worldwide)?

The simple answers are:

  • With both my counterpart and me leaving the WW SMS&P CPE Team, they are working to fill both roles currently. Because they are not filled yet, I do not know who they will be at this time.
  • All of my online/social media items came with with me, for two reasons:
    1. Just like when I made my prior moves within the company, they continue to be my “Eric Ligman” online/social media items and follow me. Some of you were quite observant and had already pinged me about the countdown that was running on my “About Me” page for the past couple weeks, prior to my online pages (Blog, Twitter, and About Me) all making the shift over to my new role the beginning of this week.
    2. Social media/direct to-partner communication is no longer a part of the role of CPE Lead in the WW SMS&P Team

For those of you that have worked with me for some time, you know that I often say that some keys to success in driving satisfaction are to ensure that you: 1) Set clear expectations and 2) Meet or exceed those expectations you have set. So to add a little clarification, and to set your expectations properly moving forward: Through another re-organization during our FY12 fiscal year here at Microsoft, my role (and that of my counterpart leading our SMS&P Customer CPE efforts) were moved (as happened several years ago), this time out of the Worldwide Partner Group Team to a new team, still within the Worldwide SMS&P Team. With this change, we entered this fiscal year under new leadership than the beginning of last fiscal year. Similar to the last re-organization, the opportunity was taken to look at the business design (as every leadership team has the right to do), and the new leadership informed us that the business wanted a “New CPE” and the design of the WW SMS&P CPE Lead roles would change accordingly. In conversations with the new leadership, some key differences of the design of the new CPE in WW SMS&P that you as partners would notice became much clearer.

For example, here are a few answers from the new leadership to some of the questions I asked about the new WW SMS&P CPE Lead design that I think will help set your engagement expectations properly moving forward:

  • What % of this role (WW SMS&P Segment CPE Lead) do you see being internally-facing (talking to and working with people inside Microsoft) vs. externally-facing (people outside of Microsoft, like partners)
    • Answer: 100% internally-facing
  • If the CPE Lead role is 100% internally-facing, how are they supposed to understand what the partners are saying on a day-to-day basis to keep a “pulse” on what’s happening with our partners and to get their input and feedback?
    • Answer: They should get their partner input and feedback from other Microsoft teams and people or published third-party research
  • To ensure I am understanding this correctly, the person who is responsible for building and leading the partner experience and satisfaction plan and strategy worldwide is supposed to be 100% internally-facing and get their information on partner input and feedback from other Microsoft employees and third party research only?
    • Answer: Correct, and maybe during a conversation at Worldwide Partner Conference.
  • As for social media: Social media is out of scope for the WW SMS&P CPE Lead role and to be transitioned to other teams in Microsoft.
    • This is why I have been so quiet online in the past few months (to answer the question several of you have asked me). Because I have been doing my social media items on my personal time, like at night after work or on weekends, or at lunch, etc. and keeping them to a minimum since it is no longer part of the new WW SMS&P CPE Lead role design.
    • Note: The change listed above is specific to the WW SMS&P CPE Team. Microsoft as a company does a great job embracing social media, and the social media efforts of many teams, such as the Microsoft Partner Network Team, are going strong and expanding, as well as the local social media efforts of the various product and country teams. For instance, here is a post I did earlier of Key Microsoft partner social media connection points, and here’s a list of US specific items. I also put up a post awhile back about social media and online resources from our Worldwide CPE Team that you should check out as well. Please reach out and engage with all of the different teams here at Microsoft that use social media and online communications. By the way, if you download the Microsoft Partner Info Mobile App, you’ll have access to a bunch of these teams and individuals in each of the categories included.

Because of these changes, please do not expect to see the new individuals that come onboard building replacement WW SMS&P CPE social media/online engagement/Direct to partner communication engines to replace the ones I had, as this will not be part of their role or focus (as noted above). Instead, please utilize the ones I refer to above and the rest of those provided by Microsoft moving forward.

Change is a common thing in business and this is simply a change. Just like we changed the WW SMS&P CPE Lead role (bringing social media, online, and direct partner connection in) when I first moved over to take on the role, it is simply changing again (taking these items back out of the role). As a quote I have always enjoyed says, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination,” and I want you all to continue to reach your destination successfully.

A New Puppy

Now I’m sure some of you are wondering, “What does a new puppy have to do with this?” Well, we’re talking about “new” and “change” and “satisfaction” here, right? Well, what says “satisfaction” more than smiling? Because of this, I thought I’d leave you all with this picture of a recent change in my family over the holidays. Meet the newest member of my family. After all, what brings a smile to people’s faces quicker than a puppy picture?? If you know me, you know that driving positive impact on our partner satisfaction is something that has always been built into my DNA, and it continues moving forward. So I hope you can all enjoy a smile or two as you read this and look into the eyes of this cute little guy heading into the weekend. Smile


As I wrote in my mail to my colleagues here at Microsoft about my move to the new opportunity I am about to embark on, “Looking back on my time since moving over to the Worldwide Team, I can honestly say that I have experienced three years that would make it onto my list of favorite years of my Microsoft career.” You all have been a large part of this, as I have had the opportunity and pleasure to work with so many of you during that time. Thank you for the great partnership and interaction! Even though I’m moving back to the Microsoft U.S. Team, I’m still going to be working in the partner business, focusing on driving the success of our partners through our Microsoft partner account teams, so I’m not going too far. (You didn’t think you could get rid of me that easily, did you? Winking smile ) Plus, even if you’re not a U.S. based Microsoft partner, I’ll continue to see you all in the online world and at Worldwide Partner Conference (my favorite week of the Microsoft year!) as well. Open-mouthed smile Here’s to a great 2013 and beyond together!

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Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric LigmanFollow me on TWITTER, LinkedIn, and Facebook 
Sales Excellence Program Manager 
Microsoft Corporation
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