Ask any distributor if they would like to boost their sales by up to two per cent, simply by writing 1,500 words about what they have been doing to help resellers this year, and they are more than likely to say: “Bring me a pen and paper now!” or something to that effect.
According to CMS Peripherals, winning a Channel Award paved the way to success for the distributor last year. The company has calculated that winning the Storage Distributor of the Year award in 2005 has helped to increase its total revenue.
Astley Gayle, products marketing manager at CMS Peripherals, said: “While it is difficult to accurately quantify the exact dollar value winning the award brought to our business, we have estimated it to be two per cent of our total revenue. It was definitely helpful in supporting our growing brand appeal.”
Gayle claimed that winning an award helped CMS to increase its brand awareness and appeal among both resellers and vendors.
“From our existing and prospective customers view it is validating the trust they have placed in our business,” he said. “We also appear to be receiving an increasing number of unsol-icited approaches from prospective vendor partners.”
Darren Lewitt, divisional director at audiovisual distributor Midwich, claimed that his firm has also experienced a similar rise in status after winning a Channel Award.
“Winning the Specialist Award last year has undoubtedly raised our profile in the channel, and attracted new vendors and customers,” he said.
Over the past 12 months Midwich has added Sony, Pioneer, Toshiba, Philips, JVC, LG Electronics, Harman Consumer UK and the consumer division of Samsung to its stable. Winning the award certainly helped to attract these suppliers, who have brought significant new business into the company, according to Lewitt.
David Ellis, director of e-security, professional services and training at Computerlinks (formerly Unipalm), agreed.
“Winning the award definitely helped raise our profile and brand outside of our core customer and vendor base,” Ellis said.
“It has made it much easier for our sales people to talk to prospective customers, because the award adds kudos and credibility to our story. Anyone can talk a good game, but the CRN Channel Award winner logo acts as a real rubber stamp to what a distributor is actually like to partner with.”
Ellis added that even if you cannot actually quantify the value accurately in terms of sales, it there is definitely a marketing value.
“Given the profile of the Awards, I can’t believe that any distributor could say that the rewards are not worth the effort in what is a very competitive market,” he said.
“Tens of thousands of pounds could be spent on marketing, and then have nowhere near the same level of impact or long-term benefits that winning a CRN Channel Award has.”
The Distributor categories in the Channel Awards are always very keenly contested, and while many distributors have found the going quite tough going over the past two years, the desire to come out on top is stronger than ever before.
Winning an award, or at least being short-listed, gives distributors an opportunity to boost morale and demonstrate to the market that they are doing a pretty decent job most of the time.
Simply being a part of the Channel Awards and being there on the night is worthwhile. Many companies that do not make it to the final stages still attend, if only to reward their staff with a great night out following another year of hard work.
But if you are short-listed and have only an outside chance of winning (and there are usually only four or five companies in each category) getting on the short list is all the more exciting, according to Jon Atherton, vice-president of Enta Technologies.
“Any firm that is short-listed should be proud of the achievement,” he said. “Winning is just about the biggest and best accolade you can receive in our industry. You only need to look at how the people react when they win.”
Even those companies that are used to winning, or are hot favourites, remain tense until the final announcements are made.
Simon Aldous, director volume marketing at Computer 2000, said: “It’s always a great feeling to hear the name of your company called out on the night. You always hope to win, you never quite expect it or get your hopes up too high and you can never quite believe it when you have won.”
Nor can distributors that have featured previously in the Awards afford to be complacent about making it onto the final lists. This is particularly true when it comes to the Distributor of the Year award, Aldous claimed.
“We know that if we want to retain the title, we have to earn it,” he said. The title is very special because it’s voted for exclusively by resellers. You can’t win it without strong customer support. We’re fortunate in that many of our customers are very loyal. If they feel we deserve it, I think they will vote for us again.”
Even the process of putting together a really good entry, then motivating your team to do their best by encouraging resellers to cast their vote in your favour, can have a very positive effect, according to Ellis.
Entering can drive staff to increase levels of service so that they make a real difference. And if you end up as a winner, it is always worthwhile.
“Winning an award is good for morale and shows that the hard work that staff put in on a daily basis does pay off and gets recognised by our customers,” Ellis added. “If you can show real value to the market, you stand a very good chance of winning.”
Aldous agreed. He said: “Winning a Channel Award is confirmation that you are doing a good job. If you believe in yourself and your business, you should be entering these awards.”
James Ward, managing director of storage distributor Hammer, said that even just receiving a nomination for the Awards has been valuable in raising the com-pany’s profile as a specialist value-added storage distributor. “It provides strong independent endorsement of the quality of what we do. It also reflects public recognition of what we’re good at,” he said.
Being on the short list gives you a good excuse to attend what is undoubtedly the biggest night of the year in the channel. “The Awards night itself has a fantastic atmosphere, and it’s an ideal forum in which to meet with channel partners and other major industry players,” Ward added.
Aldous is in no doubt about which award he wants C2000 to win.
“For us, the big prize is the Distributor of the Year award. We’ve claimed that for several years in succession now so we’ve almost made it our own.
“Frankly, it would be a big disappointment internally if we did not keep on winning it. For us, it has become a benchmark and a way of showing that we are still out in front, still the best.”
Winners always seem to want to come back for more. Ellis said that internally at Computerlinks (form-erly Unipalm) staff feel that the Security Distributor of the Year award can be theirs again for another succesive year.
“Now that we have changed name, we will continue to deliver the same levels of support and service that Unipalm became known for,” he said. “We hope that entering the Channel Awards again will bring the same benefits that we’ve seen over the past few years.”
The Distributor categories throw up some strong rivalries. Among the broadliners, Computer 2000 has won the most awards in recent years, but Ingram managed to equal its haul last year by claiming two awards for software and components. This, perhaps, came as no surprise, because the big firms tend to be the ones that pick up the major product-based accolades.
But surprisingly, Ideal Hardware did not finish up on top in any of the categories, although it was short-listed for Systems, Components, Software and Storage. It will be more determined than ever to win this year, especially as it is now a fully integrated part of Bell Microproducts.
While these firms and others, such as Micro Peripherals, Enta and Northamber will also want to put forward their case in the Networking, Storage, Security and Specialist categories. But competition is stiff in these areas.
For the Networking and Storage awards it is quite a battle between the business unit operations of the major companies, such as Tech Data’s Azlan and Ingram’s networking division and companies such as Comstor and last year’s winner Micro Peripherals.
For the more specialist awards it is hard to see the broadliners competing for the final accolade, although they will certainly try. But it will be hard to beat the likes of CMS and Hammer in the Storage category, Crane, Steljes and Midwich in the Specialist category and Computerlinks and Wick Hill in the Security category.
But we have to wait until 23 November to find out who are the winners. Between now and then a great deal of effort will be expended by all of the entrants that are in pursuit of the ultimate prizes.
Joe Macri says the vendor saw 20 per cent of its UK growth come from its Cloud Solution Provider programme last year
Pure set for further acquisitions, with a focus on the south-east
Reports claim BlackBerry is in talks over a $1.5bn deal