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.

Digital transformation has become a top initiative for business and IT leaders. In today’s business world, sustainable market leadership is no longer based solely on which company has the best products or even the best people. Instead, organizations that are agile and can quickly adapt to rapidly evolving market trends will become market leaders.

Tom Perry

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