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Sprint's new solution 'bundles' call on teams to pursue opportunities

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Climbing the product stack, Sprint has begun creating "solution" bundles out of its existing products or those of its business partners.

The first bundle, released March 14, is Managed Mobility Services. It is a suite of services designed to manage a business' wireless infrastructure, from the deployment of mobile devices that are remotely configured for each employee's needs to the remote deactivation of lost or stolen devices. The new management and security functions are bundled with access to Sprint's wireless network.

The story of how Managed Mobility Services came to market in 120 days (from trials to completion) is instructive.

"Selling solutions was an obvious direction for us," said Kenny Wyatt, VP-integrated solutions for Sprint Business Solutions in Overland Park, Kan. For every dollar Sprint can sell into solutions, he said, customer churn is significantly lowered and the ability to up-sell grows. Adding services and apps to wireless or wire-line products creates stickier sales and greater customer loyalty, said Wyatt, who declined to give specific figures.

"The question was, `How do we move the needle in terms of getting into the solutions revenue game?"' he said.

With the help of a consulting firm, Wyatt looked at a range of companies to see how they were delivering and marketing product bundles. On the basis of this analysis, he settled on a variation of "tiger teaming" called pursuit teaming. Unlike most tiger teams-ad hoc teams pulled from different parts of an organization to address a single issue-pursuit teams are permanent.

Sprint executives agreed to create two teams that would independently pursue new revenue by spotting new market needs that the company could profitably address with a product bundle. Twelve people representing marketing, product management, sales and other functions make up two teams.

"The teams are helping to tackle one of the most important roles in b-to-b marketing: clearly understanding the business needs of our customers and quickly assembling products and services to meet those needs," Wyatt said. "While reaching decision-makers and influencers through media strategies is clearly important and part of pursuit team responsibilities, those strategies have to be built around a clear set of customer requirements and the products and services that address them."

One team followed up feedback from a customer advisory council meeting in July. The council, composed of Sprint's 25 largest customers, said that the use of mobile data devices is exploding in large companies but not the services and device-management apps needed to make these devices stable corporate tools.

This was an opportunity to create a new solution, and one on which the pursuit team quickly seized.

By October, the pursuit team had organized a dozen customers in product trials playing with different combinations of technologies, vendors and price schemes, among other things.

Sprint's pursuit team members have wide latitude to work with other departments to create new products more rapidly than through conventional product development. At least at this stage, Wyatt said, only product bundles-not standalone Sprint products-are being birthed in pursuit teams.

After a pursuit team's solution is producing revenue, two of its members leave for assignments elsewhere in Sprint, and two other employees (hand-picked by Wyatt) join the team. Wyatt is already thinking about creating more teams.

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