In the second part of this three-part series, we ask the judges to share their advice to those writing entries and also why receiving a 'judges commended' award is not to be sniffed at
Whenever a CRN awards entry process is launched, we receive many questions on how to write a good entry.
The criteria for each category has been carefully worded to offer the maximum help for those crafting their entries, so do check those out via the dedicated hub.
But what better way to hear exactly how to do that than from the judges themselves? The CRN Sales and Marketing judging panel have many years' experience of judging between them, and they know exactly what they are looking for when it comes to picking the winners.
Another point often made in jest on the evening of the awards is about those given a ‘judges commended' award being some kind of loser.
Granted, you may not be wielding a trophy, but being awarded this accolade means you have stood out for the judges and they felt that you deserved special recognition for your achievements alongside the winner. It is a very personal award, and not one that judges will award in every category.
So with the above in mind, we asked the judges what advice they would share on writing a sharp entry, and also why the commended award is an important one to win.
Darren Spence, founder of Sales Gym, said it is all about sticking to the point: "Think about your core message and portray it in an engaging and simple way," he said. "Avoid pages of text because your entry will be boring to read, and your core message and achievements can easily be lost. And let your team personality shine through."
Spence said the judges commended award is not given lightly and often awarded "when the difference between the winner and the runner up is very close".
Asgard Marketing's director, Geoff Undrell said it is important to take your time over making the entry look professional and well presented.
"The judges give over a lot of time to review the materials submitted and there's nothing worse than having to piece together the ‘story' around an entry because the submission has been badly put together," he said. "A good entry is easy to read, offers real insight into the sales or marketing initiative and provides evidence that it worked. Visual aids will help, but don't expect the judges to read endless items of collateral or watch unreasonable amounts of film."
He said the commended accolade means you were an extremely close second, often resulting from ‘heated' exchanges between the judges.
"If you've been commended, you should be proud of your entry and realise the difference between you and the winner was a very fine margin," he said. "Hopefully it will inspire you to keep at it, keep improving and enter again next year."
Freelance journalist and former CRN Editor Sara Driscoll, stressed that planning was key, both in terms of entry layout and the content within in.
"Your entry is the equivalent of a CV for your sales and marketing team. Highlight the best points and prove it! I cannot stress that enough - if you do great CSR, then show us photos of your events or the money raised," she said. "If you have great sales growth - then demonstrate that with your numbers, or if you have conducted some great campaigns, then get your customers to say that. Proof is everything. Also give some consideration to layout and design. It's like a good meal - presentation is a part of the overall flavour of the entry, so it's worth putting the effort and time in here."
Driscoll said the judges commended award was ‘exceptionally' important.
"It means the judges felt strongly enough that the organisation deserved recognition for their successful year in channel sales and marketing," she said.
Topline director Luke Budka, said commended awards were genuinely deserved.
"It normally means one of the judges is outraged that that entry didn't win," he said.
Budka said with the entry itself, it is fine to focus on just one thing if it is particularly impressive or original. There is no need to try and cram loads of information in there for the sake of it.
"If you created a great bit of content that generated loads of leads, if you reworked the way sales and marketing work together, if you switched up your event in an original way to make it work harder than before, focus on that," he said.
And crucially, make sure the entry reads well. "Proof your entry. Make sure it has a logical flow. Make sure senior stakeholders input," Budka said.
Agilitas' marketing director, Richard Eglon said it was important not to feel intimidated as a first-time entrant.
"Don't be put off," he said. "The CRN SMAs have been very rewarding for many first timers over the years. Winning an award is a great morale boost for your teams who will be very proud to be part of an industry-leading business."
He agreed that those winning a judges commended award should celebrate.
"I think [judges commended] is very important, and those businesses that receive one should feel very proud of their achievement. Being commended by the judges doesn't just mean you came a close second, it often represents a submission that stands out from the rest in terms of its innovative and sometimes disruptive approach."
To enter the awards, which take place on 5 July at The Grosvenor House Hotel in London, click here.
Our final part of this three-part series will deal with the more negative aspects of judging, what the judges are least looking forward to, what to avoid and also what they say to those who claim the process is fixed.