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March 2, 2010
By Cara Sievers
In November, Sprint announced a labor force reduction that would eliminate between 2,000 and 2,500 positions, one of which was that of Sprint director of indirect channels, Steve Rowley. Jaime Jones, senior vice president for general business and public sector, said there are no plans to replace Rowley and that, in addition to direct sales operations, Jones will preside over indirect sales, a role he has been filling as Rowley’s supervisor since January 2009. PHONE+ sat down with Jones to discuss the modifications he is planning for Sprint’s indirect channel operations.
Sprint Channel Chief Jaime Jones
PHONE+: Sprint recently has done some restructuring in channel operations, including the elimination of the director of indirect channels. What is the expected result of these changes?
Jaime Jones: During the last restructuring, we saw an excellent opportunity to more closely align our channels to improve integration, increase growth and gain efficiencies. By combining the solutions focus and capabilities of the business indirect organization with the market presence of our field and small business sales organizations, we can elevate the focus and increase delivery of value-added and differentiated partner solutions to our business customers. Our goal was to seamlessly align business indirect operations, partner support, marketing and sales resources in an effort to simplify the sale and support of Sprint solutions in the marketplace.
P+: What will your role be in the newly restructured channel operations?
JJ: The integration of this channel into the field sales organization gives me the opportunity to oversee and direct both channels for the benefit of our customers. As senior vice president of Sprint’s General Business and Public Sector, including the business indirect segment, I — along with my lead team — hold responsibility for optimizing channel performance, enhancing brand recognition, leveraging resources to ensure optimal growth and delivering solutions that satisfy the needs of our client base. My goal in 2010 for this channel is to regain our top channel carrier position by developing strategic partnerships with our Business Solution Providers (BSPs). We will introduce differentiated solutions, including 4G mobile broadband, Ethernet access and global MPLS, Sprint Mobile Integration and SIP trunking to enable unified communications.
P+: What percentage of Sprint’s revenue come from the indirect sales channel?
JJ: Sprint’s business indirect channel significantly contributes to our corporate revenue targets and will continue to provide greater value to the company in 2010. We are improving support and sales resources in anticipation of segment growth. Specific business indirect revenue metrics are confidential and considered proprietary to Sprint. The BSPs help Sprint drive revenue by providing high-value and sophisticated solutions to our customers that differentiate us from competitors and drive higher data usage by leveraging third-party applications or specialized OEM equipment.
P+: How many indirect sales partners does Sprint have? How many are wireless vs. wireline?
JJ: Sprint promotes the sale of network services through wireline and wireless-centric partners with a focus on our partner base providing unique solutions that Sprint does not offer, to satisfy the ever-changing and diverse needs of our customer base. Due to confidentiality reasons, I am unable to disclose specific numbers related to Sprint’s partner organization. But I can say that we focus on making sure we have the right partnerships to deliver the solutions our customers need with the necessary market coverage. We are always looking for more partners to expand our services in support of our unified communications, vertical markets and machine-to-machine focus.
P+: What are your immediate goals for the channel?
JJ: I want our BSPs to continue to provide leading-edge, innovative solutions at a rapidly increasing rate. Our growth goals include the deployment of wireless and wireline industry best practices designed to increase customer and partner loyalty and improve customer experience overall. We will broaden our business indirect team by increasing the BSP base and embrace the unique contribution of this partner segment through an enhanced compensation model. Businesses are rapidly adopting wireless applications to gain a market advantage, increase productivity and reduce costs. We want to reach broader and deeper into this market opportunity in 2010.
P+: In light of recent job cuts and restructuring, are partners’ concerns about a shrinking Sprint channel commitment justified?
JJ: I can understand why the restructuring may have raised a concern for those who do not understand the strategy behind the changes. Our recent restructuring was designed to ensure long-term profitability and fiscal health in a highly competitive industry. Restructuring our workforce is positively impacting the channel through the streamlining of support organizational resources and the elimination of overlapping internal position responsibility, thus eliminating expense. Our goal is to improve net add wireless productivity and increase wireline revenue growth through base management and customer acquisition initiatives … all behind a business indirect growth strategy to demonstrate the invaluable contribution our partners provide to Sprint.
P+: Do you have plans to beef up channel support at Sprint?
JJ: By more closely aligning the business indirect channel with the field and small business sales organizations, we have increased the focus and can more effectively leverage the resources we have for channel support. Channel support within Sprint encompasses pre-sale engineering, order entry, project implementation, network provisioning, customer care and billing segments. We also maintained all operational resources, including engineering, project management and customer care segments, and will see enhancements in this area to further simplify the Sprint experience for our partners and customers.
P+: What, if any, partner-enablement initiatives are planned for 2010?
JJ: We’ve revamped our channel strategy with enhanced support resources and now offer all wireline and wireless products to our partner base including 4G mobile broadband solutions, expanded Ethernet service and a suite of solutions to help enable unified communications.
P+: What will be the hot products for Sprint partners in 2010?
JJ: Key to Sprint’s 2010 core product road map is expansion of 4G mobile broadband to cover up to 120 million POPs [the number of people in a specific area where wireless services are available] by year-end and the planned expansion of our Sprint Provided Access (SPA) Ethernet service. Sprint also has an excellent portfolio of business-centric products: smartphones and broadband/Wi-Fi devices like the MiFi mobile hotspot and the newest Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot. But the real story for BSPs is how they leverage third-party applications, devices and solutions to enhance Sprint’s portfolio and further solve our customers’ challenges.
P+: What are Sprint’s plans for 4G and how will the Sprint channel be involved?
JJ: Sprint is the only domestic carrier to offer 4G service to date and we have a significant lead over competitors. Businesses are replacing traditional dedicated wireline service with 4G mobile broadband at a highly competitive rate. Our coverage continues to grow and currently includes 27 markets and 30 million POPs, with expansion expected this year to cover up to 120 million POPs. BSPs are key to our 4G strategy, and they are fully engaged in the distribution of this game-changing technology. The future is especially promising for our partners as they continue to expand their portfolio of value-added services with our high-speed 4G offer.
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