Making a business successful takes hard work and commitment, and winning a CRN Sales and Marketing award is no different, writes Sara Yirrell
Every year hundreds of companies make the decision to try to win a CRN award. Some follow through on the decision, and others give up at the start.
But of course there can only be one winner in each category, so how can you ensure you are in with a good chance? And why should you enter in the first place?
The CRN Sales & Marketing Awards (SMAs) have become a staple in the channel diary, and who would not want to be recognised for sales and marketing excellence? It not only sets your company apart from a very crowded market, but it gives your teams something to be proud of and a message they can give to customers both existing and new.
Spending time on an award entry and then not making the shortlist is a frustrating part of any awards process, but have you really focused on the right things and is the tone of your entry right?
Below are 10 steps to help you write that winning entry and be in with the best chance of taking an award back to your office.
Step one: Actually make the decision to enter and stick with it. This may sound obvious, but if you don't enter, you stand no chance of coming close to taking a trophy home. Never think you are not big enough to qualify. The awards are open to ALL companies, and everyone has an equal chance. Winners are chosen on entry quality, not how big they are.
Step two: Pick the category or categories you are going to enter and focus solely on those. Don't be distracted by other categories. It is a lot of work writing a winning entry, requiring facts, figures, and proper examples of success. Once you have decided the category or categories, have a brainstorming session with your colleagues and come up with as many examples of your success as you can. Then whittle it down to what you all agree is your most noteworthy success and base your entry around that.
Step three: Read the category criteria before starting an entry. It is more helpful than you may think as it contains hints and tips as to what the judges are looking for in every entry.
Step four: Make it about the people within the company rather than about just the business. People are what make a business successful in the first place, so they should get the recognition. If you are entering a team for an award, talk about their successes, but also talk about what makes them a team. What are their different personalities like? How do they work together? Do they inspire other people in the business?
Step five: Have fun with the entry. The judges are human beings who are reading thousands of words of text. Just a slight whiff of humour in an entry can make it stand out from other dry and corporate efforts. Our industry is full of personalities, which makes it a great place to be. Don't lose that in your entry. If you enjoyed creating the entry, then it is guaranteed that the judges will enjoy reading it, and will give you extra points.
Step six: Keep it relevant in terms of both content and country covered. Remember the title of the particular category you are entering. Make sure you have done all you can to ensure it sticks to the criteria and actually covers the required points. These awards are UK only, so there is little point talking about global successes, or something you have done in the US only, as it is not relevant to the judges and they will not score it. This is a particularly pertinent point for vendors, which often lump the UK and Europe together, but fail to realise the importance of having stats for individual countries at the same time.
Step seven: Facts, figures and more facts. If you are claiming to have won the biggest deal in a particular space, or the biggest deal relative to previous company wins, then please back this up with figures - it might be a £50,000 contract, but if all you have managed to tie down is £5,000 contracts in the past, then this is a significant win, and will impress the judges. The judges have never complained about an entry containing too many facts and figures.
Step eight: Testimonials. These can be from customers, partners, or your own employees. Nothing backs up a claim more than a testimonial from a satisfied customer/partner, or happy member of staff. Again, choose customers/partners that really know your company and have something interesting and relevant to say.
Step nine: Stick to the word count or if submitting a video, please don't let it run for more than three minutes. As mentioned previously, the judges are reading thousands of words for these awards, so are not happy if an entry is twice as long as it should be. Most judges now will simply stop reading after the 1,000-word cut-off point, and this could result in vital information never seeing the light of day. The same with a video: the judges will not watch past three minutes, so keep it as short and sweet as possible.
Step ten: Get the entry in on time. Deadlines are there for a reason, and CRN always strives to give plenty of warning when the awards are launched. Why leave everything until the last minute? Making sure an entry is submitted in plenty of time will reduce the stress burden of the person tasked with writing the entry, and also it is less likely to be rushed and last-minute, thus hopefully allowing time to take in all the above points and act on them. Plus, once the deadline has gone, it has gone!
Best of luck! To submit an entry, click here.