SAP added 1,800 salespeople in the year, with an eye on capturing big business in 2013, said CFO Werner Brandt during the call.
"We want to create a sales organization that knows more, will do more and cares more for customers," said co-CEO Bill McDermott. Salespeople were added in all regions with some of the headcount growth occurring in emerging markets such as Turkey and North Africa, "where we know the size of the prize is big," McDermott said.
SAP's numbers were dampened a bit by a "significant investments in a limited number of customer projects," which "negatively impacted our service margin," Brandt said. The precise nature of these projects wasn't immediately clear Wednesday.
The company has said that its profits were also lower in 2012 because of a large reduction in the provision for the TomorrowNow litigation with Oracle in the previous year.
SAP expects full-year 2013 non-IFRS software and cloud subscriptions revenue to increase in the range of 14 to 20 percent at constant currencies. The full-year 2013 non-IFRS cloud subscription and support revenue contributing to this growth is expected to be around €750 million at constant currencies, it said. SAP also expects full-year non-IFRS operating profit in 2013 of up to €5.95 billion at constant currencies, from €5.21 billion in 2012.
The company is facing a heated battle in the cloud software market with the likes of Oracle and Salesforce.com. McDermott repeatedly and directly invoked Oracle as SAP's "next closest competitor." While this has long been assumed by most industry observers, in the past, SAP officials have often avoided referring to Oracle by name.
By 2015, SAP's cloud business will be worth €2 billion, executives said.
SAP's cloud applications are seeing "shocking uptake," particularly in the last two quarters of the year, said Lars Dalgaard , founder and CEO of SuccessFactors, who now serves on SAP's executive board and heads up its cloud strategy. "All deal sizes are up significantly. We're seeing a quadrupling of multimillion dollar deals."
A big factor behind this is the level of access Dalgaard's cloud sales teams have into SAP's core accounts, he said. "We're doing deals now that couldn't have been done before." He recalled meeting last year with a number of SAP's biggest customers, who at the time "were not ready to buy cloud." But "six to seven months later, they all bought multimillion dollar deals."
But SAP's on-premises business is doing fine as well, according to McDermott. "We also feel great about the core," he said. "Everything is growing."
SAP is continuing to look to the channel for growth opportunities, executives said. The number of consultants certified for SAP technology grew 14 percent year-over-year to 370,000, according to SAP.
The vendor has also inked a deal with Ingram Micro, which will offer SAP-based managed mobility offerings to small and medium-sized businesses, McDermott said. "Now we have a non-payroll sales force working for us at Ingram Micro."
But don't expect SAP to pursue significant inorganic growth, at least for now. "We're not planning any big acquisitions in the near future," Snabe said.