Everyone feels good about winning an award, but claiming a Channel Award can help business in many ways over the course of the year.
The buzz it creates within and around a winning company is tremendous, according to Terry O’Loughlin, UK channel sales director at CA. She said it goes further than just boosting morale: business partners of the winning company also benefit indirectly.
“Winning the award [last year] has had a very positive effect on CA,” she said. “It has heightened the focus that the company as a whole puts on the channel. It has made everyone consider the channel on a daily basis and that has helped us to place much more emphasis and budget behind channel-specific programmes.”
Gary Fowle, UK marketing director at Fujitsu Siemens Computers (FSC), said last year was unprecedented because the company walked away with two key awards: Systems Vendor of the Year and the overall Outstanding Achievement award in the Vendor category.
“It has had a very positive effect on both the business and our people over the past year,” he said. “It makes a real difference when you can hold your head that little bit higher.”
Ann Keefe, sales director for the UK and Ireland at Kingston Technology, which has won a number of awards over the years – including Components Vendor last year and the Outstanding Achievement vendor award in 2004 – said: “Winning a channel award is a great morale-booster for the whole team. We spend the year promoting the award and using it to help us win new business.”
David Ellis, director of e-security, professional services and training at Computerlinks, which last year won the Security Distributor award under its former Unipalm brand, said winning an award helps in a number of ways. He added that because the Channel Awards is now so well-established and recognised, its value has grown.
“Over the past few years, awareness of the Channel Awards has grown so much that winning can help when you are pitching against the competition,” Ellis said. “This is as powerful a ‘rubber stamp’ as you can get.
“We have used the award when talking to potential new partners, from a sales and marketing perspective. It is important that staff buy into this and appreciate how valuable an award can be in their armoury.”
O’Loughlin said that winning a Channel Award has made a tremendous difference to the way CA is perceived in the channel.
“Traditionally, CA has been a bit off the radar as a channel software vendor,” she said. “But the Software Vendor of the Year award has helped us change this perception and highlight the improvements we have made in the way we work with partners. It has moved us from being on the periphery to being at the heart of our partners’ business.”
Resellers also find it can make a difference with their customers. David Gould, trading director at PC World Business (PCWB), said that being able to say you are the SME Reseller of the Year is very useful.
“We include the Channel Award logo in many of our customer-focused publications because the award is one of the ways we differentiate ourselves from the competition,” he said. “It adds value to our overall proposition. We always get very positive comments from customers regarding this award.”
In terms of tangible benefits, it is almost impossible to put a value on winning a Channel Award, but there is no doubt that it does make a difference, according to Ellis.
“It’s hard to quantify the benefits of winning a Channel Award,” he said. “However, by just looking at things from a pure marketing and PR viewpoint, you could easily spend tens of thousands of pounds and not get the same level of impact.”
Keefe said that it is impossible for anyone to ignore the value that a Channel Award can bring.
“Everything you do in business affects your bottom line,” she said. “There are many factors that make a vendor successful and getting most things right will earn respect from the channel and ultimately win you business. Receiving the most channel votes and winning an award demonstrates that a vendor is getting it right, and this is a fantastic reference to show to new customers.”
Fowle agreed: “Anything that makes you feel more confident and proud about the company you work for or partner with, certainly helps build confidence with customers.”
He added that FSC has had to work hard to build awareness and to further strengthen its brand in the UK. Last year’s accolades have definitely helped it to do that, he said.
“We’ve gained significant market share in the past year and we’ve seen some great growth in both the corporate and SME markets,” Fowle said. “It has definitely contributed in the sense that it has added weight and credibility to the FSC name.”
Hewlett-Packard (HP) has tried to use its 2005 Storage Vendor award in a very specific way over the past year.
Stephen Watson, StorageWorks business manager at HP, said: “Being able to tie an award to a new product is useful because it raises awareness of the new product. Then when products win awards, we can also use this to highlight and improve sales.”
Most companies do some kind of announcement to staff and customers when they win an award, and they make sure suppliers know. They make ongoing use of it in marketing by ensuring that it goes into all of their literature and email shots, and it is clearly visible on their web site.
If you visit Equanet’s offices (a subsidiary of PCWB), one of the first things you see as you approach the main sales floor is the Channel Awards winner’s logos on the entrance wall. Whether you are a supplier or a customer, it makes an impression.
Naturally, sales and marketing personnel will ensure that the accolade is always mentioned in pitches and presentations, or even just in conversation with potential customers.
This is especially valuable if you win several awards in succession over a period of years. Computer 2000 (C2000) has won numerous Channel Awards over the years and taken the coveted Distributor of the Year award for a remarkable seven years in a row.
In many ways, according to managing director of the company Steve Lockie, this makes winning even more valuable.
“It may sound strange, but the Distributor award becomes more precious every year for us,” he said. “We have a winning culture at C2000 and every time we win, people come back to work determined to win again next year. We know that we can only do that through hard work and by giving our customers the best experience.”
Ellis said that winning not only becomes more valuable, but it is also more important and more difficult every year.
“From a competitive perspective, I think the fact that we have won an award several times over the past few years will make it even harder to do so again in November,” he said. “We know that we have got to demonstrate that we are again raising the bar if we are going to win because others will fight hard to replace us.”
Keefe agreed that winning in successive years builds the pressure.
“Having won an award for four years running, this backs up a long-term approach to working with the channel,” she said. “Winning a Channel Award each year tells us that we must be getting something right. The team will be disappointed if we don’t win again, but the competition is tough so we know that we will have to continue to work hard.”
Lockie said that winning in successive years also means that staff expect even more of themselves, and that customers expect you to keep on enhancing and developing your service.
“In a market where tough competition and low rates of growth are the norm, it’s essential to keep on innovating and moving forward,” he said. “This is expected by not only our customers, but by our own people and suppliers. They rely on us to do that and to help them maintain their margins. I think C2000 is now seen as the company that has always gone that one step further in terms of driving operational excellence and setting the bar to a new height.”
Receiving a nomination for a Channel Award is valuable, especially during the voting period. It is also something to mention in conversations and in proposals throughout the year. But winning means you can go on extracting plenty of value out of the awards for the whole year.
O’Loughlin said: “The award has really helped us build stronger strategic relationships with our partners, which is mutually beneficial. Given the continued strides we have made in terms of our channel focus, we would love to be recognised again.”
It is also highly prized by resellers. Gould said: “Of course we will be disappointed if we don’t win again. We have very high standards and everyone wants to be recognised for their efforts in servicing clients and being a part of a successful organisation.”
This is the real value of the Channel Awards for the winners. It confirms that you are a company that commands a high level of respect and regard throughout the channel. This is worth a great deal.
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