SAP reshuffles global sales management

Walldorf, Germany, e-business software vendor SAP AG announced on Thursday the appointment of European sales veteran Leo Apotheker as president of Global Field Operations. In the newly created position, Apotheker will be responsible for global sales.

Apotheker, who was previously responsible for sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), will also take temporary charge of North American operations, until he finds a replacement for Wolfgang Kemna, former chief executive officer (CEO) of SAP America Inc., said SAP spokeswoman Laurie Doyle-Kelly.

Kemna, who failed to bolster sales in the key North American market, will take over as head of a new unit for global strategy initiatives dedicated to SAP’s customer relationship management, supply chain management and R3 Enterprise product lines, she said.

“The main reason for creating the new global sales position is to relieve our CEO, Henning Kagermann, of this day-to-day responsibility,” Doyle-Kelly said.

One of Apotheker’s key tasks, in addition to finding a new CEO for the North American market, is to break up two of SAP’s three global sales regions — the Americas and Japan/Asia-Pacific — into smaller markets. The third region, EMEA, will remain as one. “We feel that the Latin American market has very little in common with the North American market and should have separate people in charge of each,” Doyle-Kelly said. “The same holds true for Asia. Japan has little in common, say, with Singapore.”

Hans-Peter Klaey will serve as president of the Asia-Pacific region, while Kiyotaka Fujii will continue as president of SAP in Japan. Raul Vejar will continue as senior vice president of SAP in Latin America. Les Hayman will take over as chairman of the EMEA region.

The choice of Apotheker to head global sales reflects changes in customer buying behavior, Doyle-Kelly said. “Our customers used to sign big deals; now they are signing smaller deals but more of them,” she said. “This is the type of sales environment in which Leo has excelled as head of the EMEA market.”

Doyle-Kelly said that although she didn’t know the exact hiring criteria for the new North American chief executive, she said the person would need “strong sales skills and global experience” and would “probably be an American.”

SAP’s net profit in the fourth quarter of 2001 fell to