CRN Exclusive: Telarus Named Top ShoreTel Cloud Services Distributor As Vendor Pivots Its UC Focus

Unified communications provider ShoreTel is ramping up its cloud focus and wants its partners to jump on the bandwagon.

ShoreTel has named master agent Telarus its top global cloud services distributor for business performance, expertise and sales achievement. Sandy, Utah-based Telarus has seen a dramatic uptick in interest for cloud-based UC solutions, and as a result, many UC vendors are tweaking their distribution strategies and recruiting channel partners that are already seeing success selling cloud services.

"ShoreTel has been going through a massive transformation," Telarus co-founder Patrick Oborn told CRN. "[Telarus] went from selling zero ShorTel a year ago to being their number one partner in less than 12 months, from scratch."

[Related: ShoreTel Puts More Cloud Services Revenues In Partners' Hands With PartnerStart Program]

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ShoreTel in recent months has been pushing its partners to sell more cloud-based UC services. The vendor in November unveiled PartnerStart, a program that lets partners take more ownership over installation and project management, as well as the opportunity to earn more revenue on ShoreTel Connect Cloud services.

The relationship between ShoreTel and Telarus today allows Telarus' community of agent partners to sell ShoreTel's entire portfolio of premises-based, hybrid, and cloud UC solutions, including call center functionality, advanced mobility, and CRM integrations, according to ShoreTel.

However, ShoreTel's shift to cloud is creating some consternation within its legacy channel partner community, which is used to selling UC hardware, said Adam Edwards, co- founder and CEO of Telarus.

"Legacy partners who are not making that pivot are not too happy that there is so much focus on cloud in the channel and that distribution is changing," Edwards said.

Telarus is helping to close this gap by offering both ShoreTel's premises-based and UCaaS solutions in a "hybrid sales" effort. This approach helps partners get into cloud sales and gives business customers more UC deployment options.

Oborn said this "baby step to the cloud" approach is working very well for its partner base.

"[Partners] can gradually assist customers with adding new cloud seats so they can gradually get there instead of jumping in and hoping it all works," he said.

For its part, ShoreTel has hired new channel resources and reorganized its customer success and sales teams for partners looking to shift their efforts to focus on cloud solutions, in addition to reaching out to partners that are already selling them.

"There's really space for both our legacy partners as well as new partners, especially in the cloud space," said Heather Tenuto, ShoreTel's vice president of worldwide channel programs and sales enablement.

ShoreTel is also working with 10 to 12 master agents in addition to Telarus that are helping the vendor work toward picking up telecom agent partners, Tenuto said.

"Telarus has really engaged with us to understand our solutions and took a lot of time to understand how to position these offerings for end users," she said. "We're really excited about this relationship."