On Saturday, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure finds out whether he’s still got it.
Claure had it 20 years ago when he and a co-founder started a Miami cellphone company. Claure blew away co-founder Dave Peterson’s projected sales and they were on their way to building a multibillion-dollar business.
“He’s a rainmaker,” Peterson said in an interview early last year. “He makes things happen, for sure.”
This Saturday, Claure hopes to open the skies from the sales floor at Sprint’s new Country Club Plaza location.
It opened last month at 4712 Broadway and has extended hours Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Claure plans to open the store and won’t knock off until 7 p.m.
Mind you, this is a first. Sprint’s CEO routinely visits company stores during his frequent travels. But those are rally-the-team moments.
Saturday is about closing the sale.
“I’ll be selling,” Claure said. “I’ll be convincing people why Sprint is the right decision.”
Claure said he will be greeting potential subscribers, checking their credit, getting them to “sign on the dotted line,” programming their phones and making sure they walk out the door with working Sprint phones.
Claure has set up a number of appointments already. Claure said he sent letters inviting area residents he has met but who weren’t on Sprint’s network.
Consumers who come in off the street also will get a shot at being pitched by the CEO, Claure promised.
And he said he is prepared for unhappy customers who want to bend the CEO’s ear.
“100 percent. It’s part of the job,” Claure said.
The CEO will be doing some research on Saturday, too. He said he wants to see Sprint customers’ experience firsthand.
“I want to experience it myself, why it takes 45 minutes to get a cellphone,” Claure said.
More than 20 other Sprint executives will be working sales floors in other markets, including Phoenix, Denver, Chicago and Atlanta. And there’s a side challenge on who can outsell the boss.
“We’re going to break all records for any store in the history of Sprint,” Claure said of his team at the Plaza store.
Some help on that front: Sprint’s promising a celebrity appearance by Will Shields, former Chiefs player and NFL Hall of Fame member, between 11 a. m. and noon at the Plaza store. Other “local celebrities” also might be there, according to a spokeswoman.
Sprint also is making a donation to cancer research, through a partnership with the University of Kansas Cancer Center, for each new phone activated at the Plaza store this month.
In a way, Saturday’s publicity sales stunt has been brewing since Claure came to Kansas City to take the helm of Sprint. He was staying in a hotel on the Plaza and was struck that there was no Sprint store there.
It took some persistence and cajoling before the Plaza’s owners would allow a cellphone store, Claure said.
“I’m beyond excited that we finally have a store on the Plaza,” he said. “I love my store on the Plaza.”