ShoreTel Partners: New Partner Program, Training Initiatives Show 'It's Not Business As Usual'

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There are two workshops in the ShoreTel partner workshop series. The first, which is available now, focuses primarily on business development best practices for solution providers. It's a two-day workshop that takes a deep dive into channel trends and the evolving solution provider business model. It also lets partners use a profiling tool that helps them understand how their businesses stack up against competitors and industry KPIs, along with how well-positioned they are for long-term or sustainable growth.

The course is delivered by ShoreTel and an independent consultant, but ShoreTel said the material is completely vendor-agnostic.

The second workshop, which will be rolled out in late January, focuses specifically on best practices for moving to the cloud and a recurring revenue model. The topics covered include broader market dynamics around cloud, building a cloud business practice without disrupting the traditionally hardware- and software-driven solution provider model, and adapting to an annuity-based financial structure.

ShoreTel said that roughly 150 of its partners currently sell its hosted VoIP platform ShoreTel Sky, but that almost all partners recognize the urgency of moving to the cloud. Converged Technology Professionals' Rittenhouse said his company definitely felt that urgency, and, thankfully, recognized the importance of embracing the cloud "before it was too late."

"For many years, we were selling across the hosted space, and it was pretty easy to face defeat. But it didn't come to the negotiation table that much, where [customers] were seriously looking at a cloud-based application," Rittenhouse said. "But versus now, it's probably one in every three opportunities that somebody is looking for the cloud."

After each course, partners can participate in what ShoreTel calls "Peer Group Formations," a one-hour live web session with all workshop participants intended to keep the conversation running. ShoreTel said each workshop has a cap of eight participants, and that it makes sure those eight partners are "noncompetitive."

All workshops are hosted in ShoreTel's Austin, Texas, location. The fee is $2,100 per partner, but ShoreTel said partners can use their MDFs to cover 50 percent of that cost.


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