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ShoreTel partners say they've been briefed on several upcoming changes to the vendor's Champion partner program. ShoreTel, for example, is evaluating a Platinum level of partnership for its top solution providers, although according to Annette Lorenz, director of worldwide channel marketing, no requirements for a Platinum tier have yet been finalized.
ShoreTel is also re-evaluating the criteria for its Circle of Excellence designation for partners, and Lorenz told CRN it will likely add a growth component to the revenue and customer satisfaction metrics it used to calculate the 2011 Circle of Excellence designates.
Some of the biggest changes are to ShoreTel's requirements for selling its Mobility platform, including that VARs must meet a minimum sales threshold of $100,000 in Mobility sales and demonstrate more certifications to qualify.
TeleSwitch, which Plessett said will hit Gold status with ShoreTel this year, was an early adopter of the Mobility strategy.
"That application has gotten a lot of interest," Plessett said. "We're in Miami and we have a lot of people traveling to Latin America on business and getting absolutely killed on roaming charges, so we have been able to sell a bunch of mobility systems."
When ShoreTel first released Mobility shortly after the Agito acquisition, it had a few technical kinks to work out, Plessett said, but the company has been aggressive about updated software releases. ShoreTel Mobility 4.7, which released at the beginning of March, added support for a number of mobile devices and mobile OSes as well as secure LDAP and URL-based dialing with Pause and DTMF support.
ShoreTel is well-advised to keep the Mobility product from broad channel availability, he said.
"I'm pleased to see the new partner requirements because it'll make it tougher for folks who don't know how to sell it to do so," Plessett said. "The product needs to be put in the best light. The best way to learn how it works is by going through the program and doing a few installs."
"The best candidates for this product are customers that do a substantial amount of international travel and use a lot of international cell minutes," added StormWood's Hall. "For our regionalized customer base, that's only about 5 percent of our customers. But the other big advantage is multi-platform capabilities. That's opened up a lot of doors for us."
Both StormWood and TeleSwitch are also waiting for more information from ShoreTel on the channel availability of M5 hosted UC services.
"I'm very interested in that business, and I hope they do it fast because if they can come out with something really compelling for our CPE business and for our hosted business, great for them and great for us," Plessett said. "But if it's just kind of little dribs and drabs, we might go somewhere else because customers are talking about it now. Here's hoping they don't put out a piece of news like this and then keep people waiting. They might lose a little bit of the market opportunity if they wait too long."
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