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Opinion – Vertical Awareness

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According to Forbes and CRN, “A lot's been going right for ShoreTel lately.” No disagreement there.

Recently, ShoreTel has added hundreds of new customers from the Government and Education vertical sectors. It’s no surprise that one recurring reason customers choose ShoreTel is its lack of complexity, which ultimately translates to lower total operating costs. It’s an obvious catalyst that most people will agree with - government agencies have recently become cash-strapped with reduced budgets.

However, it is interesting to note that ShoreTel has thousands of customers in the finance, insurance, real estate, manufacturing and wholesale(!) verticals. I even excluded the services vertical on purpose. Why? That’s because half of the total number of active businesses in America today belong in the services sector. (The fact that the biggest chunk of our customers come from the services vertical doesn’t really add anything of value to this post.)

But knowing that ShoreTel has good penetration in the wholesale, finance, insurance, real estate and manufacturing verticals might actually be kind of surprising. To give you a sense of scale of these verticals, there are a total of 95,000 businesses in those sectors, that are specifically in the 50 to 5,000 employee range (that number increases to 326,000 total businesses if we include all the verticals). That’s a lot of potential future ShoreTel customers out there.

These verticals are very different from government verticals, as there is a higher propensity of these companies to be in the private sector. It’s probably not too far-fetched to say that some private sector companies have more flexibility in choosing vendors – because cost might not be the core primary concern in evaluating a purchase. There’s a lot of other vendor-related factors like brand recognition, financial standing, support, customer experience, etc. that come into play. ShoreTel has done very well in these verticals considering that in most cases, we would have had to trump the competitive bids from the other big, well-known vendors. No small task considering that ShoreTel is a relatively new brand.

The point here is that ShoreTel is probably not winning solely based on its uncomplicated setup and TCO – but because it’s a great product.

As you know, we’ve got great CSAT (customer satisfaction) scores across the board, so we know that these are satisfied customers, across many different verticals – such as the Automotive industry.

Do you think that this adoption (of having customers across different verticals) is being driven more by the customer itself (i.e. these companies were attracted to the ShoreTel solution because of its merits), or by ShoreTel actively engaging and targeting specific verticals? It’s an interesting thought to ponder, and we’re interested to hear your thoughts on this conversation.