It’s a fact of life: Some people are better at running a business than others.

(Hint: If your employees have eight different bosses each wondering why their TPS reports weren’t filed on time, you’ve got a problem.)

If you’re more comfortable running networking cable than a solution provider company, ShoreTel (SHOR) may be able to help. The unified communications vendor has developed a business development program to help its channel partners develop and improve their business acumen in a fundamental, vendor-agnostic manner.

“This program is built on the tenet that we have a channel-based go-to-market model, and we are dependent on a thriving and healthy ecosystem,” said David Petts, senior vice president of Worldwide Sales at ShoreTel. “We are, in essence, deepening our investment in our channel partners’ development ahead of a significant market shift.”

That shift is, of course, the shift to cloud services, which partners will be able to capitalize on only if they have a strong foundation for their current business, Petts said.

“The more we can help them have a strong business, the better position we will be in,” he said.

The Partner Business Development Workshop is a two-day event designed to help channel partners understand how their business compares to other, successful companies and against key performance indicators, and create actionable items for partners to address to grow their company in size, structure and diversification, according to the company.

“Partners want to know what they can be doing better, yet most channel account managers or partner business managers don’t have the background and knowledge of fundamentals in business to answer questions partners have,” said Chris Burgy, vice president and GTM Strategy and Planning. “Our multipronged approach touches on all the different mechanisms.”

The journey begins with a profile of the partner’s business conducted by ShoreTel and a resulting scorecard that highlights the partner company’s strengths and weaknesses. The partner then attends the two-day workshop at ShoreTel’s Austin, Texas, headquarters, which looks at the partner’s solution offerings, technical operations, sales operations and business operations—plus the company’s underlying strategy, management leadership. In short, ShoreTel is focusing on the partner’s entire business, not just the technology or the sales organization, for example.

The second day of the workshop features one-on-one consulting to help partners create an action plan for growth, including strategy, objectives and challenges.

Following the workshop, partners take part in peer group sessions via the web, covering topics determined by the partners themselves, but can include topics such as business strategy, leadership development or financial management.

Each workshop is limited to eight participants, a maximum of two from each partner company. To participate, they must be nominated by their partner business manager and go through the profiling. Cost for the workshop is $2,100 per participant, plus travel and expenses. However, ShoreTel is allowing partners to pay for up to half of their fee and travel expenses using MDFs.

“This may look like an altruistic approach, but we have our own self-interest at heart,” Petts noted. “To be wed to our partners, we need them to be strong businesses with a robust company and business fundamentals, and that’s what this is all about, and with an eye to business transformation.”