**Editor's Note: Click here for a list of recent channel-program changes you should know.**
ShoreTel Inc. announced Wednesday that it is revamping its Champion Partner Program to remove channel conflict and make it simpler for partners to price and market ShoreTel's premises-based UC solutions beginning next year.
Key changes to the program include a simplified discount structure, a new opportunity registration program, an updated MDF program and modified support pricing. Most of the changes and additions to the program will go into effect worldwide on Jan. 1, 2014.
The enhancements follow changes ShoreTel made to its channel-exclusive go-to-market strategy this summer, said Jeff Mattan, senior director of worldwide channel marketing programs and strategy for ShoreTel, in an interview with Channel Partners.
"In the past, anyone who was a quota-carrying person for ShoreTel had client responsibility as well as partner. We didn't have a [channel account management] role," he said. Specifically, he said the company has added a partner-focused role, which it calls a Partner Business Manager, in addition to the client-focused sales support role provided by clients sales executives (CSEs). ShoreTel's solutions architects also were split into partner- and client-focused roles.
The changes in the programmatic elements were based on feedback from ShoreTel's partners in the past two years and designed in consultation with third-party channel experts and pricing analysts, Mattan said.
The company briefed its 900 partners on the program changes in a series of Webinars and, for very large partners, one-on-one meetings.
Chief among the changes is a simplified discounting structure. ShoreTel still has four tiers – authorized, silver, gold an d platinum – but has added clear discounts for each tier. Previously, the discount was determined by a combination of skills incentives, exclusivity and various revenue bands, Mattan said, noting the new structure is less confusing and also levels the playing field. It is uniform throughout the world and across all partner types — value added resellers, direct market resellers and service providers (carriers), he explained.
That said the requirements for the types – VARs, DMRs and SPs – are different, Mattan said. As an example, he cited an increased certification requirements for SPs since they are national while DMRs don't do demos so they are exempted from the demo gear requirements.