A Diary from the UC Summit Conference: Connecting with Consultants and Partners
ShoreTel is a Platinum sponsor of the UC Summit Conference this week in beautiful La Jolla, Calif. On Sunday, April 27th, Mark Roberts, our CMO, delivered the opening keynote address to a nearly full house of about 100 people. His educational presentation entitled “To Cloud or Not to Cloud” was very well received by the audience of industry consultants and channel partners. It made a compelling case with facts and figures that hybrid solutions of cloud and premises are going to increase in adoption and are going to be the leading form of deployment within the next 5 years. Mark also set the tone for ShoreTel’s participation in the entire event and our focus on helping channel partners and consultants move into the cloud marketplace with their projects and recommendations.
On Monday, April 28th the first full day of the conference, Jim Tennant, Carlos Loaiza and I conducted a focus session with independent industry consultants. Our participants were a handpicked group comprised primarily of consultants who have not been actively engaged with ShoreTel in the past. We started with a presentation featuring our cloud solutions, and where they fit in the marketplace. We briefly covered some key areas of misperception about ShoreTel in the marketplace, and then moved into focus group questions soliciting feedback from the participants. The consultants were very engaged and posed a number of excellent questions, as well as providing some very valuable feedback that will help guide us as we position our solutions and services to help them feel more comfortable recommending ShoreTel to their clients. In fact, we gained commitments from 7 consultants to give ShoreTel consideration on their future voice projects. All in all, it was a very good day!
We’re still going strong here. On Tuesday, April 29th, Jim Tennant of our cloud channel team led a focus group for potential channel partners. His presentation really hit the mark, and the 9 attendees were very interested in what he had to say. In fact, they had so many good questions that there was very little time for the typical focus questions he wanted to pose – so we were allowed to go overtime a bit. Jim showed the participants, through his “rule of 78,” how much money they can make through MRR as a reseller for ShoreTel’s UCaaS. I could see the very pleasant surprise register on their faces. As Jim took them through what we offer and how we work with our partners, one of the attendees kept leaning over to the man next to him saying “Wow, that is really cool” and nods of agreement and acceptance seemed to abound. We also had a current partner in the session with Blackbox in Canada. He introduced himself and said how proud he was to be a ShoreTel partner. That was impressive to the attendees, as well. (And we didn’t even prompt him to give us that plug.)
On Tuesday evening, the final night of UC Summit, ShoreTel was given the opportunity to host a table of 10 attendees at the banquet. Our invited guests included two key ShoreTel partners, 7 consultants and me. The place cards were strategically placed, so the consultants and partners could network, and it was a great success. The consultants loved the opportunity to establish relationships with key ShoreTel partners, and the partners were thrilled by the opportunity to get to know the consultants. In fact, both partners left the table with at least one consultant-led opportunity in hand. We started by going around the table and having all our guests introduce themselves and their companies. After we did a toast, we simply let the conversations flow – and flow, they did! ShoreTel benefited as well, not only by establishing relationships with consultants who are new to ShoreTel, but also by strengthening relationships with current members of our Consultant Liaison Program. All in all, it was a very successful evening.
ShoreTel’s first ever UC Summit event ended at noon on Wednesday, April 30th. Our three ShoreTel attendees and our partners all agreed it was a very successful event. Matt Pingatore, president of Packet Fusion, sums it up nicely from the partner’s perspective in an email note: “Three days seemed like a long time to be away from the business but the amount of strategic knowledge I gained from the UC Summit team members far outweighed being away. Being here reiterated to me that ShoreTel is doing the right things to position itself within the UC space. While the sessions with the big thinkers were of real benefit to figure out what we need to do to be successful, the networking with other consultants and VARs is where the true benefits where. I was able to meet at a minimum 5 consultants that I will do business with.”