German software maker

SAP

(SAP) - Get Report

on Monday named a former

Siebel Systems

(SEBL)

sales executive president and CEO of SAP America.

In a press release Monday, SAP announced William R. McDermott will take charge of SAP's business activities in the U.S. and Canada. McDermott will report to Leo Apoteheker, president of global field operations and executive board member of SAP, who has been the interim head of the North America operation since May of this year.

Shares of SAP declined 21 cents, or 1.8%, to $11.30 in recent trading Monday. Siebel shares were down 30 cents, or 4.7%, to $6.14.

McDermott, 41, served as Siebel's executive vice president, worldwide sales, since May 2001, though in a recent email to investors that mentioned his departure, Siebel

reported he had not run sales for more than a year. From April 2000 to May 2001, McDermott was president of research firm Gartner. Before that, he worked at

Xerox

(XRX) - Get Report

for 17 years, holding several sales, marketing and executive management positions.

Prudential Securities analyst John McPeake called McDermott's appointment "incrementally positive," noting that the company met its timeline for hiring a permanent head of the Americas' region by the end of the third quarter. McPeake has a buy rating on SAP and his firm hasn't done any banking with SAP.

Joshua Greenbaum, a technology consultant and principal with Daly City, Calif.-based Enterprise Applications Consulting, said it was the first time he could recall SAP tapping a rival software executive for this type of top-level position. He noted Siebel snapped up several SAP executives a few years ago, including Paul Wahl, former CEO of SAP America, who was named president and COO of Siebel in May 1999. "SAP needs a senior salesman that can get in there and set up the deals and close them," Greenbaum said.

However, Siebel has had trouble closing deals in recent quarters. In the second quarter, the customer-relationship management company reported a more than 40% decline in software license sales.

"The question is, are Siebel sales

down because of bad sales execution or overall bad product and market strategy?" Greenbaum said. "I think Siebel is in the grips of a real slowdown in its sales, which is about the products and about the company and not about

whether they have a sales team that knows how to sell, because they certainly do."