- After its acquisition by SoftBank, Sprint had been pretty quiet regarding its business services and strategies.
- It’s questionable how different Sprint’s new sales and marketing organization, and new approach to business services is from competing operators.
In a recent briefing to the analyst community, Sprint opened up about its plans for the business market. It has had a new B2B team since fall 2013, which includes corporate liable sales of embedded products, cards, handsets, tablets, M2M, as well as business-focused wireless and cloud services. It also divides the Fortune 1000 regionally into Eastern and Western U.S. companies. Sprint’s aim is to be disruptive: it used to sell based on technology and “speeds and feeds”, but found that this approach didn’t work and now is selling solutions instead. The company conducted focus groups to find out what keeps CIOs up at night; it came up with three key issues and their associated solutions.
- How do business leaders enable their workforce to be productive, given the pace of change in technology and the need to keep up with devices, network upgrades and security? In response, Sprint put together bundles to make it easier for customers to consume wireless as well as complementary cloud and UC services. The bundles are offered per seat and might include (in the case of cloud services) Microsoft Office 365 plus connectivity and devices.
- How can CIOs focus their energy on the big picture – i.e., to grow their business without having to deal with the nitty-gritty details like buying and managing devices? An example of how Sprint looks to address this issue is in M2M, where it launched a bundle or a “package in a box”. This could be a “restaurant in a box”, for example, with WiFi and digital signage on a flat monthly subscription fee.
- How can CIOs deal with legacy ‘stuff’ such as data center and core network facilities – how can they optimize their current telecom infrastructure? Sprint’s answer again is to sell solutions rather than point products, so it might pull together managed network services, security and its customer portal reporting and self-service provisioning tools.
While solutions addressing these three key issues just might work for Sprint, solution selling is not remotely a new concept; neither is the “in a box” solution, which is typically targeted more at SMBs than enterprises. Larger enterprises need a reason to risk their core applications and services by switching operators, especially if they are going from a larger carrier to a smaller one. If they can get a simpler, less expensive and more comprehensive bundled solution set, it may provide enough incentive to switch. Sprint definitely needs some customer incentives, since it has lost enterprise and SMB business over the years.
Sprint is also suffering once again from delays in its massive network upgrade, including performance glitches that it cannot afford. It needs to turn customer perception back in its direction. Meanwhile AT&T and Verizon tend to bundle services for their smaller customers while generally providing customized solutions and pricing for their large enterprise and MNC customers. But Sprint does have some points about discovering what keeps CIOs up at night and attempting to address these issues, whether or not the answers are actually disruptive.