ShoreTel Unveils Cloud Partner Program, Brings 'Sky' Products To Channel


ShoreTel Wednesday gave its roughly 600 North American channel partners the green light to start selling its ShoreTel Sky suite of cloud-based VoIP services and announced a new, three-tiered cloud partner program to go along with that initiative.  

Starting Wednesday, ShoreTel's Champion Partner Program includes three new cloud-focused partner tiers, along with new partner training resources for selling cloud solutions and transitioning to the recurring revenue model that comes with cloud sales.   

The aim of the new program is to help ShoreTel partners not only embrace the cloud services model in general but also go-to-market with ShoreTel's Sky portfolio, according to Heather Bennett, vice president of worldwide channel programs and sales enablement at ShoreTel.

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

ShoreTel Sky, which includes cloud-based unified communications, phone systems and contact center solutions, has until now only been sold through the 160 or so partners that joined ShoreTel's channel with ShoreTel's 2012 acquisition of M5, the hosted VoIP company whose technology is the foundation for Sky. Now, however, all of ShoreTel's North American partners are eligible to sell Sky products.

"This is a highly anticipated event," said Bennett. "Partners have been asking since the [M5] acquisition about when they would be able to have access to the Sky suite of products."

Joe Rittenhouse, president of business development at Converged Technology Partners, a Chicago-based ShoreTel Gold partner, said ShoreTel's decision to open up Sky to the channel is a great move for partners, given the increasing interest customers are expressing in cloud-based communications.

"From where we are at, and where we are going, probably two out of every three [client] appointments, we're talking about cloud," Rittenhouse said. "And it's not that everybody knows what it is, but they want to hear about it, and they want to know how it can benefit their business."

Bennett said ShoreTel worked hand-in-hand with solution providers to design a new cloud partner program to help enable and drive Sky sales in the channel.  That program, which is part of ShoreTel's broader Champion Partner Program, groups partners into three different levels: Referral, Approved and Enabled.

"We designed it in a way where partners can choose how much they want to be a part of the sales process," Bennett said. "A lot of VARs out there are new to cloud solutions, while some of them have sales people that are used to selling clouds and the monthly recurring revenue model that comes with it. We've designed it with three different levels so that they can decide for themselves how much help they need in the sales process."

NEXT: Referral, Approved And Enabled Tiers