First100 days

First100 days

John Howard, Managing
John Howard, Managing Director ShoreTel EMEA

Comms Business Magazine met up with John Howard, Managing Director of ShoreTel EMEA as he completed his first 100 days at the helm of the company to see what he had found out about the organisation and what his plans were for the future.

Comms Business (CB): What were your objectives for your first 100 days at ShoreTel?

John Howard (JW): To try and understand what was happening in the business in the first instance. To understand the channel we had was a priority for me and in the first 100 days I actually met with 100 resellers although in this I was aided considerably by being at the Convergence Summit at Sandown Park. I think after this I had a pretty good understanding of what resellers want from ShoreTel and although it was a tough schedule it was also a lot of fun. I am now meeting all newlyappointed resellers within EMEA.

CB: What were your first impressions of the company?

JH: We have a really high level of customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is in our DNA and our performance is verified by an outside third party body. If you deliver what the customer wants at the right price and it all works then of course you are going to get great customer satisfaction levels. The second key finding was that people really like our products. It’s a fact that resellers have a win rate of 75% selling our products. That’s both amazing and unique in the industry.


CB: What do you put the high win rate down to?

JH: The overriding factor is a ‘secret sauce’, the ShoreTel single image architecture. This means that we deliver really cost-effective solutions. No-one can do what we do. Other factors affecting business wins include the fact that we can demonstrate real live systems on customer sites and in this respect we are very flexible when it comes to going to site with our channel partners to carry out demonstrations.

CB: How are you finding the market right now?

JH: A lot of resellers are looking closely at what they are selling. With consolidation continuing there may be only five or six vendors remaining in the PBX market. It’s also a fact that the top five vendors are all down as far as growth is concerned so ShoreTel is not scared of vendors with legacy solutions. The channel is however tired of vendors not delivering on promises made by their marketing people and also tired of over distribution.

CB: What are your plans to expand the ShoreTel channel business?

JH: ShoreTel is not a channel-centric company. We are a channel-only business and are looking to expand our channels in a controlled way. Firstly we are looking to fill geographical gaps, especially in addressing the sub 100-user market. Secondly we want to appoint resellers selling to vertical markets including education, local government, the public sector and small law firms. ShoreTel is a good proposition for these and other markets – we are also particularly strong selling on green issues. Thirdly we want to work with resellers specialising in horizontal products and applications such as call centres and unified communications.

CB: when will these strategies be implemented?

JH: Now. We do not want to wait for the market to turn. We have a good base of resellers already and we are making further investments in people and channels. We are not looking for a specific number of new channel partners but seeking out those with the right qualities that understand our value proposition. ShoreTel has also set a low bar in terms of sales training which is free of charge and covers one product that addresses from 20 to 20,000 users.

We are also recruiting sales people – account managers, and made a public commitment to accelerating the growth of people, in marketing, system engineers and all elements of our operation. We have fantastic well proven products and all of our marketing investments are being made in our channel partners – if we have a win ratio of 75% then we need to put resellers in front of more customers!

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