Sprint Changes Back Wireline Channel

As part of an effort begun in 2010 to reinvigorate its wireline channel, Sprint Nextel Inc. has consolidated the Sprint Business Solutions Partner Program into one organization. The move is part of a larger trend at the carrier to right its lopsided focus on wireless post-merger that also includes filling a wireline leadership gap and introducing a unified communications solution.

Brian C. Wesolowski has been named to lead the wireline channel as national manager of indirect sales – wireline. For the previous seven years he ran the nationwide master agent channel while regional managers headed up indirect sales efforts in the North, South and West parts of the country. Wesolowski said now there are two additional regions — Northeast and Southwest — and all are consolidated into one organization, which he oversees with the help of seven channel managers.

“It is our concerted goal to grow the wireline indirect channel, to foster partnerships, expand our partnerships and address segment needs and requirements that we really haven’t been in a position, up to this point, to address if for no other reason than our focus as a company,” said Wesolowski, referring to the company’s emphasis on wireless services immediately following its merger with Nextel. “I am extremely excited to begin the introduction process to our current partners and new partners as to the new look and feel and attitude and interest at Sprint in leveraging our partners in a unique, strategic and differentiated manner to drive unified communications solutions.”

Part of that new attitude is evidenced by resource investments that the company is making in both people and product, Wesolowski said.

Wesolowski reports to Shaun Legerwood, Sprint’s director of international sales and global support, whom he describes as having a primary role in driving the direction for the wireline organization and promoting the new UC solutions in the field. (Wesolowski’s former boss, channel chief Jaime Jones is now senior vice president of consumer sales.)

The wireline business also has a new boss in Monnie McGaffigan, who in December was named vice president of wireline, international and strategic alliances, filling a void that existed for a number of years. Previously, she was a regional vice president for Sprint business accounts.

Wesolowski said the structural changes in the company are backing up what he’s been telling Sprint agents for the past year — that Sprint is committed to growing its wireline channel. As further proof he points to the lifting of a multiyear moratorium on onboarding new partners.

In addition, he said the company is leveraging both its wireline and wireless field managers to support its channel partners. That means that wireline agents will be able to get support on wireless deals from the wireless channel sales organization, which is run by Callie Merril-Jones, director of channels – wireless. “We are effectively doubling our partner sales and support coverage across the board,” said Wesolowski.

Finally, he said the company has put resources behind delivering a UC solution. “We’ve realized that there is a fine mix between wireline and wireless, and we are positioned to begin promoting our unified communications solution in a wholehearted fashion,” Wesolowski said.

To that end Sprint announced last fall it has teamed with CallTower to deliver hosted UC services to small and medium businesses. It announced a similar agreement with Smoothstone Communications to serve enterprise customers in January. In both cases, the Sprint offer integrates the hosted UC applications with Sprint’s MPLS network and mobile networks.

Wesolowski said Sprint was rolling out the services to its direct and indirect sales forces during the first half of 2011.

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