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100% Channel or Channel Centric?

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Many vendors claim to be channel-oriented businesses dedicated to the good fortune of their resellers – but are they, and more importantly, does it matter?

I recently spoke with a tech journalist in the U.K. who was of the opinion that if a vendor has the ability to take an order directly from a customer, it ceases to be a channel-oriented company – a simple yet effective way of understanding which vendors in his sphere of work were 100% channel.

But this could be an issue of definition – many vendors describe themselves as “channel-centric” – a suitably vague description and one that seems to be used by UC vendors that have a direct sales arm. ShoreTel is 100% channel and has no ability to take an order from an end-use customer.

So why is this 100% channel approach important?

ShoreTel recently held its Partner Advisory Council (PAC) for our EMEA partners where we announced a number of changes to our channel program. This subject came up with the CEO of a ShoreTel VAR that is growing fast (over 100% per year) and has flipped its business away from Avaya over the past two years.

He told me that he takes great comfort from the fact that ShoreTel is 100% channel as he has realized that any changes to our channel program are for the benefit of the VAR and not a backdoor way of supporting a direct sales team. “Good point!” I said.

What this also means is that our Major Accounts sales teams in EMEA are now 100% dedicated to working with our partners on deals and not competing with them at any point – a vital model that ensures ShoreTel maintains its explosive growth in the region.

So take a look at your current vendor relationships and ask yourself, 100% channel or channel-centric – very different things once you delve a little deeper.