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ShoreTel brought over about 30 Agito partners following the acquisition, said Annette Lorenz, director, worldwide channel marketing at the vendor. But the heart of the matter is ShoreTel Mobility, the new practice ShoreTel inaugurated to sell the platform. About 30 percent of ShoreTel's 900 global partners are qualified to push the mobility products now, Lorenz said -- roughly a combination of its higher-tiered Gold and Silver solution providers and service providers.
The program has been particularly attractive for Avaya partners, Hamilton added, because it allows them to sell ShoreTel without much disruption in their Avaya installed bases or Avaya loyalty rebates.
"They can complement what they already have," he said. "For us, it's been a trojan horse effect."
Partners have been finding better and more frequent reasons to go with ShoreTel. For UC and VoIP sales, OCx pushes the line exclusively. And Verteks, said Gulling, is now a Top 20 partner with ShoreTel, with sales up 170 percent with the vendor year over year for the first quarter.
That was after years of what Gulling called the "Kabuki theater" experience Verteks had with 3Com.
"We sold them for years, and it was a lot of 'are we in the game, or are we out of the game,'" Gulling recalled. "It was a lot of drama, all the time."
Legacy 3Com dealers are ripe for conversion, Lorenz said, particularly after HP's recent decision to place the 3Com VCX IP telephony line into "maintenance mode" a year after HP acquired 3Com -- a move that essentially put VARs on notice that the product set would be marginalized by HP.
HP-3Com VARs confirmed to CRN that ShoreTel has been making aggressive overtures following the HP fracas.
"We're looking at them, and they've definitely been making us feel wanted," said a top executive at an HP solution provider who asked that his name not be used because he's currently evaluating UC alternatives from several vendors. "It's a good product, and the name recognition isn't there but the [total cost of ownership] story is and the profitability is attractive."
ShoreTel has also successfully recruited a number of Avaya stronghold partners in the past six months, including Avaya power Xeta Technologies (itself acquired by Paetec in February).
What they're finding is a vendor that prides itself on listening to -- and dealing with -- channel headaches.
"It's not as if it was bad before, but they didn't listen as well," OCx's Pham said. "They're taking a look at the value the partners bring in, and Peter Blackmore's direction is that he wants his partners to really grow with him. He wants to take the company to multiple times the growth it is right now."
Gulling said that among the ways ShoreTel regularly assists partners, it's been proactive about aggressively discounting its demo equipment kits, three of which are required for Gold partners, two for Silver, and one for Authorized.
"They make partners demo it and test it and have it because they don't want people selling it who don't know what they're doing," he said. "They could have made that [requirement] really expensive, but they've lowered the bar basically as far as they can, and also brought down the training. If you're an interested partner and you qualify, you can basically get into this mobility practice for a few thousand dollars."
NEXT: ShoreTel's Financial Picture Shapes Up Strong