Goodbye, Sprint

Sprint should be an MBA case study (or three). Sprint started as the Pin Drop company – the company with fiber and crystal clear voice. Then no one knew what they were known for. There were a series of missteps.

Sprint had a fiber network but it was hard to buy access on it – expensive too. Voice services were available, but try to get it priced!

Sprint was selling Office365 in 2012!

In 2010, Sprint was pitching their MVNO offering to FISPA. Execs from Sprint even came into the AT&T building next to the Fox Theater in Atlanta (despite a protest from AT&T) to pitch the MVNO at a FISPA member meeting. It was too difficult to get a deal done.

That same year, I wasted 9 months trying to order Sprint Mobile Integration service, which integrated a BroadWorks with the Sprint network via an MPLS connection into Sprint IMS. In theory, this service would allow Sprint cellphones to become extensions on the BroadWorks. Great idea. No idea if it worked or not. They just wouldn’t take an order.

Ever since 2005 when Sprint merged with Nextel in a $35 Billion deal, it was all downhill. Despite very good products, a decent network, and a lot of spectrum, Sprint was always losing. Dan Hesse was too happy starring in commercials to put together a cohesive strategy to pull the company together and move forward.

Sprint needed a better C-Suite. The people who held the positions of CFO, CEO, COO and CMO since 2004 were overpaid and under-performers.

The lessons to pull from this are many, but I will hit on three. One of them is that a good (even great) product offering doesn’t matter if the sales process is wrought with friction. Make it easy to give your company revenue!

Take note: there are a few service providers in the channel where this is the case now. The sales process actually prevents a sale. Take the friction out of your sales process! Hire RAD-INFO INC to Secret Shop you. Do you even know what your Prospects & Buyers go through?

Another lesson is to maximize your assets. Sprint has a boatload of great spectrum (the coveted 2.5 GHz and 850 MHz), but they never leveraged it to have the fastest network or the largest downloads or even lease it out for private networks to enterprise or government. Most of the spectrum sits unused.

Let’s talk WiMax for a moment. You can’t always pick the right technology, but how do you keep picking the wrong tech? CDMA versus GMA; WiMax versus LTE. Even phones – EVO, Palm Pre and the last cellco to get the iPhone.

The final lesson: cost cutting may keep your doors open, but you won’t win. If you are behind your competitors, cost cutting will not help you catch up. Once you go the route of cost-cutting, you are forever behind the curve and losing.

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