QUESTION: What do King Tut’s tomb, Johnny Appleseed, tomato sauce and Picasso all have in common? ANSWER: They’re all analogies used by Matt Carter to explain the enablement strategy at Sprint’s (News - Alert) Emerging & Wholesale Solutions group.
Sprint has made a lot of changes to Emerging & Wholesale Solutions, says Carter, who is president of the group. Those efforts, he says, are disrupting the market and changing the game to enable Sprint to grow its business more rapidly – and to help Sprint customers do the same.
The Emerging & Wholesale Solutions group at Sprint cuts across a wide range of customer segments, including auto manufacturers, retailers and other industry verticals; MVNOs that want to provide wireless services to select affinity groups; and device manufacturers. These customers are being inundated with complexity, says Carter, and they need simplicity, yet no one company can provide the full range of capabilities they require.
To address all that, Sprint has launched a new strategy called Know, Innovate, Grow.
The strategy involves better understanding the needs of Sprint customers and then taking that information and building innovative, single-source solutions to address their needs.
The Know piece is involves uncovering valuable information about customers’ business.
“Know is all about being a good archeologist – uncovering King Tut’s tomb and taking those riches back to our innovation center and then building solutions for our customers to meet their needs and help customers grow,” says Carter. “It creates a different kind of cadence in how we go to market.”
Sprint experts gather customer information by interacting with customers; talking with partners of those customers, as well as with analysts and media in their verticals; doing additional research; and thinking creatively.
“We’re like Johnny Appleseed,” he says. “We go out and are proactive.”
Sprint leaders, some of them hired from the verticals they now serve, strive to understand the competitive dynamics of the industries in which customers and prospects do business. They identify how such companies make money, and learn about key factors that are impacting customers’ businesses.
“Having domain expertise is essential,” he says. “We are making a concerted effort to bring in the best talent to help us grow our revenue and profit across these key strategic verticals.”
Carter says key verticals on which his Sprint group is focused include connected transportation, financial services, insurance, and retail.
In addition to adding vertical-specific experts to its ranks, Sprint’s Emerging & Wholesale Solutions group is focusing more heavily these days on marketing, says Carter, who has held executive-level marketing and customer experience positions at BellSouth (News - Alert), Boost Mobile and Coca Cola. Part of the new Sprint effort is a major push to develop and implement training and development for the sales staff.
“We have a syllabus of courses that everybody on staff goes through,” says Carter. “Part of that addresses account planning – and what you need to know about the customer to create a partnership with that account. So we’ve developed good practice habits in how we do these things.”
The Innovate part happens when Sprint takes the information gleaned during its consultative selling process, other research and its own expertise, and puts that to work by creating solutions that present a single face to the customer while drawing from a broad ecosystem of partners, he says.
“We understand we need a broad range of partners,” says Carter. “For example, we’re working with Chrysler on M2M, and bringing a single-source solution to Chrysler, but under the hood it’s 30 to 40 partners, and Sprint manages it all.”
Sprint, adds Carter, is not operating as a dumb pipe. Instead, this group at Sprint is positioned as a systems integrator, he says.
That leads us to the grow part of the equation – and to the tomato sauce part of the conversation.
“We’re not in the business of just selling garlic, we’re more in the business of selling tomato sauce,” says Carter. “The opportunity is to move from commodity selling to really value-added selling.”
Because it is positioned as a systems integrator, Sprint’s Emerging & Wholesale Solutions group is now selling platforms as opposed to just services like connectivity, says Carter. That adds up to larger customer spends and lengthier engagements for Sprint, in which as of press time Dish and SoftBank were competing to acquire a majority stake.
“Sales cycles are longer, but the relationship lasts longer,” he says, adding that results in greater value for both Sprint and its customers.
Of course, Sprint has plenty of competition in the systems integration space. But Carter says what differentiates Sprint in this marketplace is its thorough understanding of the customer experience and knowing how to operationalize plans to meet their goals.
“Like Picasso we create a portrait of what the customer experience needs to look like,” Carter says. “We are a systems integrator, and we are bringing a competency to the market that is unparalleled among carriers.”
Edited by Stefania Viscusi