While at the MVP Summit in Seattle, I was able to ask Steve Ballmer a question about better support and interaction between MVPs and local Microsoft offices. I didn’t blog about this before because much of the Summit was under Non-Disclosure Agreement, but a friend pointed me to a
transcript on the Microsoft web site. Here’s the transcript of our exchange (Toby Richards is the General Manager of the MVP program).
QUESTION: More and more often we’re being encouraged to engage with the
local offices, but I’ve identified four things internal at Microsoft that makes
this very difficult to do. The first one is, and before I get to I’ve
talked to other people around the country, and they seem to have similar issues.
The first is, we have not had MSDN events in Salt Lake for two years. We’re told
there’s not enough numbers of attendees there. We sold out our Visual Studio
2008 launch faster than most other cities within a thousand mile radius that are
having events. That tells me the numbers exist.
Second of all, I was told by one of our local developer evangelists,
his budget is 25 percent of what it was two years ago. This makes it very
difficult for him to engage with us.
Third is that it seems that the evangelists turnover about every two years,
and this one is going to be more of a thing for Toby. I found out this week,
they do not have access to our MVP profiles, even if we check Microsoft visible,
and I understand that it’s a security thing, put another checkbox on there that
it’s visible for local offices.
And, finally, when we do find out who these evangelists are, oftentimes
it’s like going to an e-mail black hole, we hear nothing back from them.
STEVE BALLMER: Okay, a couple of reactions. If you’d like, I’ve made notes.
Mostly I think that wasn’t a question. That was very good input. I do want to
pushback a little bit just so you understand where we’re coming from, and then
I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. We did make a conscious choice a couple
three years ago, maybe three or four years ago, to move more of our evangelism,
and more of our MSDN event style activity online, to do more things through kind
of online events, and presentations, and the like. We’ve gotten a lot more
people to attend net, but it doesn’t surprise me that we have I don’t
know, a 25 percent budget, no MSDN events in Salt Lake, that strikes me as odd,
too. But we did make the conscious choice. Bad choice in your opinion to move
QUESTION: No, I think it’s good to move more online, but let’s keep an eye
on what’s happening locally still. That’s vitally important.
STEVE BALLMER: Okay. So what I will do, one other comment, if you send
e-mail to somebody who works at Microsoft, and they don’t return it, I’m angry.
Feel free any time you’re not getting an e-mail response from one of our people,
just forward it to me. (Cheers and applause.) It will help, believe me. You will
help me improve Microsoft, and I bet we can improve the response rates awfully
quickly. I give out my e-mail address often, SteveB, SteveB, SteveB, okay. I do
it all the time. And the truth is, I don’t get that much e-mail from customers.
The customers don’t waste your time. MVPs don’t waste my time. People send
legitimate questions, concerns, ideas. Computers send spam, not human beings, by
and large. And if you’re not getting a response, seriously, send me one or two,
I guarantee you things will clear up pretty darned quick.
On your other
comment, what I will do is, I’ll step back and kind of take an all up look with
our folks on what we’ve done in terms of physical evangelism versus virtual
evangelism, and I’ll take your input, I’ll hear what we’re doing, and if I agree
with you I’ll give them a little bit of a push, and hopefully we’ll get it into
a little bit better place.
QUESTION: Thank you.
STEVE BALLMER: Thank you. (Applause.)
TOBY RICHARDS: I would just add, in terms of the engagement with our sales
crew, that’s a huge responsibility of my team, our profiling system has outgrown
its capability, and I told the team, hey, we have a product called MSCRM, maybe
we could start using that. Anyway, we’ll take actions. By the way, my e-mail is TobyR@Microsoft.com.
STEVE BALLMER: Say it loudly, Toby. TobyR@Microsoft.com.