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Is Sprint’s Channel ‘All Together Now’?

By Kelly Teal
October 18, 2011 - Article

If you’re a Sprint Nextel partner, you know the carrier’s indirect channel program has been a little disjointed over the past couple of years. Wireline and wireless partners had to share resources and processes, operating as if their business models were similar. Sprint’s channel leadership saw significant turnover. Over the past several months, however, the upheaval has started to settle as Sprint has put new executives in charge to remodel the channel. All of the modifications should be completed by January, but already they have led to more streamlined operations and, for wireline partners, the elimination of one very unpopular policy.

Sprint has spent the past 12 months reinvigorating its business indirect channel with new leadership, initiatives and operations support. “We really are in the process of a pretty terrific turnaround story and, in the journey of that turnaround, we’ve had to make significant organizational changes," said Judy Train, vice president of small business and alternate channels.

That’s because the Nextel acquisition of late 2004 brought about a wireless emphasis for which many people in the wireline channel were not prepared. On top of that, more end-users dropped wireline services in favor of mobility. To try and accommodate the shifting environment, Sprint decided about two years ago to manage its partners based on geography. That didn’t work as well as hoped and late last year, the operator determined it would be best to oversee partners based on their business models — wireline or wireless. The entire indirect channel is overseen by Paget Alves. But the wireline program is run by Monnie McGaffigan, vice president of wireline, international and strategic alliances. The wireless unit falls under Train while Callie Merritt-Jones, who reports to Train, works as director of channel development and business indirect.

McGaffigan, Train and Merritt-Jones have used much of 2011 to redefine Sprint’s channels to better reflect the company’s desire to work with partners. Particularly on the wireless side, full evidence of that work won’t be apparent until the new year. Still, for both groups, renovations are underway.

Wireline Woes and Revival

In fall of 2010, Sprint was reorganizing its business units to trim operations and costs. Amid the restructuring, Alves recognized the need to attract more wireline sales. Wireline may be a shrinking segment, but it promises plenty of growth for Sprint. In fact, it makes up a $4 billion business for the company and produced about $1 billion in free cash flow in 2010. So, late last year, Alves put McGaffigan in charge of the wireline channel, which comprises enterprise, wholesale and call-termination revenue. In turn, McGaffigan and her team have spent 2011 reconnecting with agents. For example, they’ve created a Partner Advisory Council and just wrapped up the most recent partner summit at Sprint headquarters in Kansas City. Through it all, the loudest message McGaffigan is hearing from partners is that they want working with Sprint to be easier.

And she is listening.

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