Sprint charges ION with indirect sales channel

Sprint charges ION with indirect sales channel

Sprint this week signalled that the company is looking to ramp up its indirect sales channels to more aggressively market services such as its Integrated on Demand (ION) offerings.

Specifically, the company announced that it has put in place an Atlanta-based Integrated Service Organization to better interact with its value-added resellers.

Sprint officials predict that by 2002, about 50 per cent of the company's revenue will come through indirect channels. By 2005, that will jump to 75 per cent, said Kim McMinn, senior director of distributor marketing for Sprint Business.

Sprint's converged networking services initiative, ION, plays squarely into the company's move to beef up indirect channels, McMinn said. "We are preparing our channels this year for ION on a limited basis, using three to six of our key partners."

By next year, however, Sprint expects to do nearly all of its ION business through its indirect channels, McMinn added.

To accelerate the ION service -- which many industry watchers claim is off to a slow start -- Sprint is also honing a formal training program in an attempt to establish ION as an industry standard, similar to Microsoft or Cisco certification programs.

Sprint bills ION as a completely converged service that offers bundled ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode), frame relay, IP solutions, and local and long distance voice service. ION is built on an ATM backbone network, which supports IP applications and services.

McMinn said Sprint's current push to strengthen indirect channels grew out of the company's realisation that its sales and support effort should better reflect the market shift toward bundled telecommunications services.

"Telecommunications more and more is becoming part of a bundle, and not the front and centre part of a solution," McMinn said.

"This new organisation is a long culmination of things that started last year when we had a research study done to look at market growth. It was then that we realised we were not going to be able to keep pace with market trend growth by working only through direct channels."

The Integrated Service Organization will serve as a central place for Sprint resellers to use in the care and feeding of Sprint customers, officials said.

In conjunction with the new organisation, Sprint also announced a Distribution Market Ordering Tool which channel partners will use to submit orders online.

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