A tongue-in-cheek Q&A session on some of the questions we feel must be asked about the SMAs every year
There are too many awards in the market - why should we bother with these?
There are certainly a lot of awards in the market - but the CRN Sales and Marketing Awards were the first of their kind launched over a decade ago - purely dedicated to sales and marketing achievements in the channel. They are also truly independent, judged by a panel of experienced channel sales and marketing veterans.
It is all too expensive to enter and attend the awards
To start with, the awards are free to enter and obviously if you are shortlisted, you will need to attend the event which means coughing up for a table or a few seats. But if you are a successful company, surely you want to reward the people behind your success and get them some recognition? And there aren't that many awards during the summer months that are aimed specifically at the channel. So come on, take that chance. You might just enjoy it!
We enter the Channel Awards in November, so we don't need to enter these as they are only the poor relation.
Well, of course we don't force anyone to enter any awards, but these awards are totally separate from the Channel Awards and they are definitely not a poor relation - they are aimed purely at rewarding sales and marketing excellence and the people and teams behind that, unlike the Channel Awards, which is aimed more at overall corporate success. Sales and marketing excellence is something that a lot of channel firms still need to work on improving - so it is an ideal opportunity to stand out from the crowd, get your messaging spot on, and give your customers proof that you are worth partnering with.
None of the categories are relevant to me
Really? With 21 categories, there is nothing that you could identify with? Maybe you should be asking why there is nothing you identify with if so. Do you really do absolutely no marketing and have nobody winning deals on your sales team? Have a good read of the categories and criteria and you will probably be surprised at how many are actually relevant. If there really isn't anything relevant - let us know, as we said, the categories are tweaked every year and if there is something missing, we will try and fix it the following year if it makes sense to do so.
I hear the entry process is a long and laborious process - is it?
It is as laborious as you want to make it. Planning ahead will definitely make the whole experience a lot easier. Every single category has a 1,000-plus word criteria written specifically for it, packed full of tips and hints as to what makes a winning entry. Short of actually writing the entry for you, CRN cannot be more helpful. If you follow the guidelines in the criteria you cannot really go wrong. Those with a true passion for the sales and marketing achievements and innovation shown by their teams will not struggle to share their success with the judges. Entries are 1,000 words, which in the grand scheme of things really isn't that long, in fact many struggle to keep to the word count. If you have all the necessary information to hand, and know exactly what you want to say, the entry shouldn't take more than a few hours at the very most.
If I don't do a fancy video or multi-media entry, I won't win. So why bother?
We encourage multi-media entries to allow those that wish to express themselves differently, but we do not discourage text entries at all. Nobody is penalised for failing to submit a fancy multi-media entry. In fact many text only entries have won over the years. The only wish from the judges is that the entries are at least easy to read and well laid-out. Please bear them in mind when compiling your entry. Judges have to read through thousands of words of entries and you can imagine how much more difficult and frankly soul-destroying it is when presented with a block of solid text, compared to a nicely spaced word doc, or a PDF with images and graphs. But as with all entries it is the content that matters, if an entry ticks all the boxes in terms of stats, testimonials, personality, actually explaining why it should win the award, then it will stand a very good chance.
Isn't the judging process a fix? How are the judges picked?
This is an age-old problem with any awards. Please feel free to speak to any one of the judges, they have been doing it for many years and take the job very seriously. They are all seasoned sales and marketing experts with a proven track record in the channel. That is why they are on the judging panel.
If you are still not convinced, then, please, apply to be a judge yourself. We welcome new judges every year to keep the process fresh. But be warned. It is not an easy job. They treat each entry exactly the same and are only looking for quality of entry rather than who is actually entering.
The judges read and score each entry based on the criteria given to everyone entering the awards. They are as committed to keeping the awards independent and unbiased as the CRN team is, and give up their time willingly to make sure the process is fair and thorough.
Come and see them on the night and ask them for yourself.
What is the point of the judges commended?
Yes we know every year that the comedian/host makes a quip about commended winners being no different to a loser. But that is not the case. In many categories the competition is extremely close and the judges are keen for another company to get some recognition for putting in a very strong entry. The commended is definitely not a sign of failure, you have beaten everyone else that was shortlisted (bar the winner, obviously), and of course those that didn't even make the shortlist. It is an achievement in itself and one of which you should be proud, not embarrassed.
Obviously we all prefer to win if we can, and this industry is fiercely competitive. But celebrate if you are awarded a commended certificate - these are not doled out like sweets either.
I've entered before and we didn't even get shortlisted - I can't really be bothered to go through that again.
Well we can't force anyone to enter again, it is a free world after all. But if you give up at the first sign of defeat, what sort of example will that set to your co-workers/employees and competitors? Unfortunately in the real world, not everyone can win, and someone has to come second or third. But persistence always pays off and the following year might be the year your sales and marketing teams do something amazing - would you really not want to shout about it and be in with the chance of winning an award?
We've been shortlisted so many times but never manage to win! It is so frustrating!
Don't give up! You are obviously doing something right due to the fact that you are being shortlisted, but stop and think before submitting your entry this year. Read the criteria again. Have you really dealt with the points in that criteria to the best of your ability? Are you really giving the judges the best view of your team's successes? Have you made the entry as personal as possible so the judges get a feel for the people behind the success? Have you included facts and figures to back that up? Are your testimonials heartfelt? Is your entry just a little bit dry and lacking the passion and personality that could make it a winning entry? Does it appear rushed? Try and see things through the judges eyes, remember that they have read tens of entries, does your entry really stand out that much from the crowd?
The same faces win every year - we are never going to get an award, are we?
The same faces do not win every year. That is absolutely untrue. It is under very exceptional circumstances that the same company will win an award once or twice and if they do, it is because their entry is absolutely fantastic and has blown the competition away. If you think like that before even submitting an entry, it might just reflect in your entry itself.
Of course, if everybody comes up with a reason not to enter, and certain companies enter every year, then the pool of potential winners is always going to be limited - give them something to compete against - what have you got to lose?
Isn't the whole process a fix? Can't we effectively buy our company an award if we sponsor enough?
No, you can definitely not buy an award. And everyone involved in the judging process finds those comments pretty insulting. A company can be a headline sponsor of the awards and not come anywhere close to winning. It makes no difference. The judges' decisions are not based on who spends what amount with CRN, although we are aware this does happen in other industry awards (naming no names). Of course there is no way of convincing people that are determined to think that way, but winners are decided on quality of entry ONLY.
We don't stop anyone entering. And if they happen to be sponsors, then fair enough. But their entries are treated no differently to all the others.
We would encourage you to speak to all the judges and ask them about the process. They are very passionate about it.