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The added distribution relationships coincide with a revision of ShoreTel's Champion partner program. Requirements for each of its tiers, themselves rebranded to Authorized, Silver and Gold, have changed slightly, and ShoreTel plans to delve deeper into training and certification for the 900 or so partners it has worldwide.
At the Authorized level, partners must have one demo equipment kit, one sales certification and one design installer or advanced engineer certification, and certifications carried by two different individuals. At the Silver level, it's two demo equipments or the equivalent capability, two sales certifications, two design installer certifications, and one advanced engineer certification, and certifications carried by four different individuals.
For the Gold level, ShoreTel requires three demo kits, three sales certifications, three design installer certifications, two advanced engineer certifications and one practice certification, and certifications carried by six different individuals. Both the Silver and Gold tiers receive additional skills incentives for their investment in training.
"Generally speaking, it's a tier system that rewards based on skills as well as volume," noted Annette Lorenz, director of worldwide channel marketing at ShoreTel.
One of the most significant mind-share opportunities for ShoreTel, Girskis said, is in the ongoing integration of Nortel's former enterprise business into Avaya, which ShoreTel considers its main competitor.
According to Girskis, 30 percent of the VARs ShoreTel recruited in the first quarter of its fiscal 2011 are Avaya and Nortel partners, including national VARs like Broken Arrow, Okla.-based Xeta Technologies, one of Avaya's top Platinum partners.
"That's a perfect example of a partner that's enterprise-grade and looking to ShoreTel to help fill needs," Girskis said. "I will tell you that we are in negotiation with the CEOs of large [Avaya partners]. We're up to 900 partners globally and a big chunk of that has come from the Avaya/Nortel base."
The next few months will see ShoreTel keeping the heat on as it integrates the mobile convergence technology it acquired through Agito and introduces partners and the industry to its new CEO.
"We continue to add headcount and make organizational changes," Girskis said. "Our productivity is good."
VARs and other channel observers have been encouraged by Blackmore's appointment, said ScanSource Communications' Baker.
"I have not met Peter face to face, but we've had conference calls and I find him engaging, knowledgeable and up to speed very quickly," Baker said. "We're looking forward to working with him."