Here's the transcript from Sprint's appearance on the Channel Partners podcast, "Coffee with Craig and Kevin."

Craig Galbraith, Editorial Director

August 2, 2018

8 Min Read

**Editor’s Note: Read our list of 20 top UCaaS providers offering products and services via channel partners.**

Sprint has been making some noise in the indirect channel with new service offerings and a bigger presence at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo. And that’s just the beginning.

Channel Partners recently caught up with a pair of Sprint execs who hold some responsibility for the carrier’s channel success in the years to come.

Scott Valentine, sales director for the Sprint Partner Program, and Sasha Gorman, vice president of Sprint’s Smart Communications product line, sat down with Channel Partners’ Craig Galbraith and Kevin Morris for an episode of their podcast, Coffee with Craig and Kevin. What follows is the transcript from our chat.

The transcript has been edited for length and clarity. To listen to our full conversation, click here.


Sprint’s Scott Valentine

Kevin Morris: Sprint had a big presence at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in the spring. I understand you’re rebranding your whole indirect channel. Can you give an update on what your partners can expect?

SV: I tell agents all the time we’re a startup in a big corporation; part of that’s been because we’ve had different indirect channels for different lines of business. Two years ago, we were kind of in preservation mode with our program … maybe smaller investments, or each group would invest in their own things like channel partners in an effort to remain relevant on the wireline side. We were at the same time beefing up all of our access equipment on the wireline side, and also exiting the legacy voice business, so there’s been a lot going on in our business unit. This year, working with your team [at Channel Partners], we’ve had a nice presence at [the] Channel Partners [Conference & Expo] in 2018 and we’re planning for 2019. … And we’ll be attending your Channel Partners Evolution in Philadelphia [Oct. 9-12].

I tell partners that, again, Sprint is a big brand. Everybody recognizes our name. The last couple years, it’s been really important to align our channel with the corporation. You see different companies making different decisions all the time with the channel. But we’ve been trying to align this. Dave Falter, our channel chief, has been a strong leader in this regard to make sure we have a long career in the channel and that we’re building as a channel player. I think that’s what everyone wants. I know that’s what the partners and agents want. That’s what we want here as well. As far as rebranding … because of that alignment and that we’ve been able to  bring the different business units together, we’re going to have one marketing wrapper for the program going forward. That’s going to be the Sprint Partner Program; I think it kind of speaks for itself, but that will be for all lines of business.

Craig Galbraith: I understand you have a “sell-with” program where you link channel-partner representatives and the Sprint direct sales teams? How does that work?

SV: Let’s face it; many times a channel partner and a carrier are selling against each other. But if the partner has a value prop[osition] and our direct teams see one plus one equals three, then the channel becomes a force multiplier working with our direct team. We all know the channel has reach and relevance with customers, so once they have an approved teaming registration, we will …

… team all B2B wireline solutions with our indirect and direct sellers working together. The important thing about this besides it being cool that direct and indirect teams are working together – it eliminates channel conflict – Sprint’s also going to compensate our partners 100-percent commission in the teaming. And we’re also on the verge of launching a revitalization incentive in the channel. We’re out there as a tier-one global carrier. We’re adding new service offerings. We’ve got a great teaming program and we’re going to be offering incentives, so I’m pretty excited about our future in the channel.

KM: We know that products will be a big part of Sprint’s road map going forward. At our show, you unveiled Smart UC powered by BroadSoft. This is a part of Sprint’s larger Smart Communications platform. Can you tell us what that platform is all about?


Sprint’s Sasha Gorman

Sasha Gorman: In my group, we’ve got product managers, project managers, sales specialists and sales-engineering specialists. All of these folks are working together as a small group intending to come up with interesting ideas that we’ve seen in the market and then bring them out both to our own sales force and to our channel partners more quickly. … The launch of my first product in this group is our Smart UC solution powered by BroadSoft that we’ve developed very heavily on top of. So it’s completely a white-labeled solution. The objective here is to address some shortcomings I’ve seen in the UC market … as we’ve moved into the upper end of the midsize and enterprise companies really embracing cloud solutions, the reasons those companies are coming to service providers – and if you look at just that market segment, it’s a little over 40 percent of that market segment that wants to purchase from service providers – in my view, that’s around issues of scalability, security and reliability. There’s the expectation when you go to a tier-one provider, you’re going to have telco-grade reliability.

… Broadsoft is by far the largest cloud UC solution on the market. I think a testament to that strategy [of Sprint choosing BroadSoft] is that after we decided to go down that path with BroadSoft, BroadSoft was acquired by Cisco. You think of Cisco as the most secure, most reliable, route-switch communications solution on the market, but not one that I would say has been sophisticated when it comes to cloud strategy. BroadSoft really fills a gap that was in the Cisco portfolio, and where we gained differentiation is that we developed heavily on top of that solution to address things like endpoint protection … issues of mobility-first, so having a Sprint-branded client that can be on a smartphone, on a tablet, being able to enable a completely distributed mobile workforce and have that link seamlessly with brick-and-mortar facilities.

… In this portfolio, we also have Sprint’s SIP solutions … so we’re actually rebuilding our entire SIP environment so we can SMS-enable every phone number that goes through that environment. We’re having our entire SIP run through Sprint’s IMS core so we can invite additional services like call recording, real-time speech analytics, voice biometrics, identiyy and authentication services. [They] will all run through this same network that undergirds our SIP environment. And then we’re building additional applications on top of it like …

… our Smart UC solution. We also have a conversational SMS solution that’s driven by artificial intelligence, so this is Sprint Business’ first artificial-intelligence solution. There are some really exciting things going on. We think a lot of these will really benefit the channel because they are things you can only get through Sprint, and also, when we go out and talk to customers about how they want to collaborate with employees and how they want to engage with their customers, it’s always about digitization and how we can mesh different channels of communication and how we can make sure those solutions are secure and integrated with all the applications that you’ve got on-site.

CG: Drill down on that a little more. How can partners and customers take advantage of this opportunity?

SG: Everything in my portfolio will be able to be sold through the channel. We have a team of sales and sales-engineering specialists to help the channel find opportunities, to document and manage discovery and to sell those deals. And what we’ve done over the last six months is we’ve rationalized our portfolio so [partners] have the right set of solutions for customers from a UC and customer-engagement perspective. Our core solutions are really around UC, collaboration and contact center. We’re Google’s biggest service-provider partner; we’re Microsoft’s biggest service-provider partner in the U.S., so we really have a ton of momentum around these solutions. Sprint Business’ fastest-growing solutions are in my portfolio.

We’re working with [Cisco] on some really innovative partnerships that will allow the 20,000 Cisco reps around the world to sell cloud UC solutions, in addition to being able to help the indirect channel that may have WebEx Teams and WebEx Meetings but doesn’t have PSTN connectivity, and there’s no true Cisco cloud solution on the market — they’ll be able to sell [Sprint cloud UC] through service providers with our partnership with Cisco. So we’re really excited about that.  … We’re getting to a really interesting point of differentiation both for customers and for the channel.

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About the Author(s)

Craig Galbraith

Editorial Director, Channel Futures

Craig Galbraith is the editorial director for Channel Futures, joining the team in 2008. Before that, he spent more than 11 years as an anchor, reporter and managing editor in television newsrooms in North Dakota and Washington state. Craig is a proud Husky, having graduated from the University of Washington. He makes his home in the Phoenix area.

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