ShoreTel Stands Committed to Direct and Indirect Sales
In the upcoming annual conference between ShoreTel and its service partners, ShoreTel will restate its commitment to providing hosted VoIP solutions and Internet telephony alongside solution providers to ensure availability to markets. Also on the agenda is the explanation for keeping its rebranded M5 hosted VoIP service, ShoreTel Sky, on direct sale.
Thanks to its network of solution providers, ShoreTel has both raised shares and increased its market share against current competitors in the market, including Microsoft and Cisco. In addition to ShoreTel’s strong ties, adding on the M5’s capabilities has given them the edge they require to please growing technology demands from customers seeking hybrid or hosted solutions. This growing pool of customers hopes to replace their current on-premises telephony system with the technology provided through the M5 network.
This newly formed relationship between M5 and ShoreTel appears to be uncongenial to their past experiences with the channel, however. While M5 promoted direct sales and went against the channel’s flow to capture business, ShoreTel has a long-standing association and partnership to solution providers.
Despite an increased interest in hosting solutions over on-premise telephone systems, ShoreTel affirms that their products, sold via the channel, will continue to be the foundational solution for telephony. In fact, even the hosted and hybrid solutions provided through ShoreTel will be sold through the channel as well.
ShoreTel Sky will continue to be sold directly unless through referral and even then, the financial relationship will remain between ShoreTel and the end user only. ShoreTel chief marketing officer, Kevin Gavin, does comment about the future evolution of this model however. He explains that it may one day resemble a model where partners can both lead and administer hosted VoIP services.
Furthermore, he does not disregard the potential of better direct sales with software-as-a-service (SaaS) products, which does not bode well with the channel. This issue resurfaces often as vendors selling direct services can be seen as a threat to a solution provider’s business longevity. In response to this issue, Gavin admits that ShoreTel is still “learning and still evolving.”
Yet despite its apparent unique situation, ShoreTel is yet another company facing the emergence of the cloud era. They face the difficulty of cost-cutting for sales on the one hand while trying to keep ties to various channel relationships on the other. And similar to other vendors in this position, ShoreTel is likely to be “still evolving,” as Gavin stated, for quite some time. The responsibility, then, will lie with the solution providers to evolve with these ever-changing models. (RP) Link