If you ever imagined that you simply had no chance of winning a Channel Award, think again. This year there are more reseller categories than ever before, and the categories, judging and voting process have been designed so that SME resellers and solutions providers have as much chance of winning as any large business.
Equally, if you are an enterprise or corporate services provider, there are awards that will suit you too.
The new set of categories and a radically different voting and judging process will make this year's Channel Awards more open than ever. They will give every single company that operates within the UK channel a chance of being short-listed or winning an award. More than 60 individuals from major channel companies, as well as senior CRN and VNU staff, have been involved in an extensive consultation process. The result promises to give us a very exciting run-up to the 2005 awards.
Channel players have all welcomed the changes, saying they have significantly enhanced the awards.
"The categories this year reflect the range of focus between different organisations in the channel. The realignment of the vendor and distributor awards is also very logical," said Tony Davis, managing director of last year's winner of the Corporate Reseller award, Elcom IT.
Both broadline and more specialist distributors have welcomed the changes. "The categories reflect more accurately the range of products that are being sold into the channel this time," said Nigel Judd, general manager marketing at Computer 2000.
"I also think the changes to the voting process strike the right balance. The panel of judges will initiate a short list and rank the contenders accordingly, and channel players will have the opportunity to voice their opinion by casting their votes," he said.
Jon Atherton, group vice-president at Enta Technologies, said: "The categories provide a much broader focus on the whole sector. They give the more specialised distributors a much better opportunity to be recognised, and deservedly so. The new voting process also seems a lot fairer."
Vendor response was also very positive. "The categories are a better reflection of channel developments. The changes to the categories will make them a highly credible set of awards," said Paul McKeever, channel marketing manager at Sony.
The competition is certain to be strong in all the vendor and distributor categories. Many companies will also be urging their reseller partners to enter. "I would encourage resellers to enter for two reasons", said McKeever.
"It gets everyone in the company involved and excited by the same goal, and winners can use the award to raise their status with suppliers and customers."
Resellers that do not enter are certainly missing a trick, said Davis. "It's definitely worth entering, as the PR that can be gained from just being short-listed for an award is substantial, let alone actually winning one.
"We refer to the fact that we won the Corporate Reseller of the Year award for 2004 in most of our sales calls, as well as all of our marketing collateral. It is not that difficult to enter, and it doesn't cost anything either."
With seven awards up for grabs this year, resellers have more incentive than ever to enter the Channel Awards. As Davis said, it is easy and it is free. What do you have to lose?
How do we enter?
It's very easy. Read the category definitions, decide which categories you are eligible for, and follow the instructions on the Channel Awards web site.
How much time will it take?
Only a few minutes if you have the relevant information to hand. We are looking for submissions of a minimum 300 words and a maximum 1,500. Outline why your company should be considered for an award, plus a few basic details. You can provide more material if you wish.
What should the entry contain?
You should set out why you think your company deserves to win the award you are entering. You need to respond specifically to the category definition and provide evidence to back your claims. Facts and figures, specific achievements and testimonials from customers will all be useful. If you need help or advice in putting your entry together, please let us know. We will do all we can to help.
Will this information be published?
No. The judges will see it, of course, but otherwise it will not be used for publication or in any other way without your permission.
Who must submit the entry?
You can do it yourself but there is no reason why your marketing, PR agent or some other third party cannot submit an entry for you.
What do we get out of it?
If you win an award, you will gain the prestige and editorial coverage that goes with being a winner. Even being short listed will boost staff morale and give you something to shout about to customers and suppliers. Short-listed companies will receive coverage in CRN and reseller awards will also be covered in CRN's sister title Computing. Even by just entering you will be increasing your exposure to key editorial staff and to the industry analysts and influencers that sit on the judging panel.
How long do I have?
The deadline for entries is 1 August.
When is the site open for entries?
Can we enter for more than one award?
If you believe your company fits several category definitions, you can enter for as many as you wish.
How many companies will be short-listed in each category?
Four companies will be selected by the judges for the short list. In exceptional cases, the judges may put five names forward.
Will the judges chose the short list and pick their overall winner based on the entry alone?
No. They are also asked to take into account their own knowledge of the market and the performance and reputation of the companies that have entered. All entries are carefully taken into account but they are not the only consideration.
Why is there a mix of votes and judging this year?
During the review process, the consensus was that this would give us a fairer balance between the companies that attract the most votes and also give smaller companies an even chance of winning. Straight votes for all the awards would favour the larger players; a decision made by the judges alone would not be enough to take into account channel support for any one company.
What if the aggregate scores are level?
The judges' ranking will decide the winner.
Why have the categories changed this year?
Feedback from the industry after last year's awards indicated that there needed to be a more accurate reflection of what is going on
in the market, and that we needed to recognise mainstream areas such as systems and software in the vendor and distributor awards. We also needed to have more reseller awards.
Who decided all this?
More than 60 key individuals in the channel have been involved in the process. They include senior representatives from vendors, distributors and resellers, as well as editorial, marketing and publishing staff from CRN and its publisher, VNU Business Publications.
How did they decide?
In December a group of about 40 senior people involved in the channel met to discuss last year's awards and the categories to be adopted this year. Following this meeting and further consultation, a draft set of categories was drawn up. A further review meeting then took place in February, again attended by about 40 influencers from the channel, to decide on the final set of categories and on the decision-making process for the awards. A final series of consultations followed, and some minor changes were made. The result is the set of categories and the judging and voting process outlined on page 19.
Who are the judges this year?
The panel will be finalised over the next few weeks and will consist of channel advisers, analysts and journalists. The panel will be headed by CRN's editor, Sara Driscoll.
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