Winning an award is something that most people in the channel strive for as it provides recognition of their hard work and the success of their business.
There are plenty of opportunities with vendors, associations and channel publications all hosting their own award programmes to try and identify those firms that have really made the difference.
But with so many potential awards out there and some channel firms winning multiple times it does make you wonder if they are still seen as coveted prizes worth having.
Ask anyone in the channel and the answer is still a positive one with many still looking to get their hands on an independent confirmation that they have gone the extra mile.
“There are many different types of awards in the channel and to win one is a great way to achieve recognition from peers, suppliers and business partners. We can all tell everyone how good we are but an award represents a third party endorsement which means much more. Industry awards help an organisation to stand out from the competition," says Linda Patterson, marketing director UK, Avnet Technology Solutions.
Those sentiments are echoed elsewhere in the channel with vendors also keen to use them to help identify and reward value amongst their partner base.
“Who doesn’t want to feel appreciated? Awards and recognition matter. Winning an award not only raises your own profile within your company but can also boost your company’s reputation across the industry and inspire others," says Jarmila Yu, international marketing director, Intermedia.
She also underlines the importance of getting nominated and believes that those that get short-listed have reasons to be proud.
"Winning is great, and we are all in business to win. But, never underestimate the value of nomination as well. The fact that someone or a group of people within an organisation has been recognised for their ability, skills or creativity (or that a product has been recognised for functionality) should be celebrated, regardless of whether the nomination results in a win," she adds.
The other point that Yu raises is that in this social media age the impact on an individual or a brand by winning an award can be quite significant.
"You only have to look at how much our personal or company profiles are viewed on social media, or realise the reliance that many place on reviews for purchasing confidence, to see how accolades like awards can easily and quickly impress potential employers and prospect customers alike," she says.
Her advice to those that believe they are working hard and have something to shout about is to get the business leaders to add awards to their agenda because there can be hugely positive ramifications for the brand to be associated with success.
"As vendors supporting channel partners, we should have awards on our business agenda too. We should help our partners unearth and showcase their innovative projects, hero personnel and great achievements," she concludes.
Credibility is vital
The idea that awards can add value to a brand is one that is echoed across the channel but there is a slight warning about the process being credible.
What it means
Just in the last month some channel players have been shortlisted for awards and you can get a flavour of just how much it means.
Entanet picked up several nominations for a selection of channel awards and the firm's head of marketing, Darren Farnden, shared what it meant to the business: “We are obviously delighted to have received this recognition by so many of our prestigious industry awards programmes and are hopeful for further success over the coming months."
Also celebrating success was Azlan, which was recognised as being a top HP trainer, by independent expert Brandon Hall.
Stephen Cant, director of Azlan’s HP Enterprise Group, expressed what it meant to the business: “Azlan is pleased to have received this independent recognition of our training program for HP partners. It is a testament of the investment, effort and commitment that we have made to providing our HP reseller customers with the knowledge, support and resources they need to develop and grow their business.”
“Awards (so long as they’re credible!) can assist in raising awareness of core businesses services and competencies among your customer base and can be particularly useful in validating what your business does, particularly if your business model has significantly transitioned in recent years," says Jon Beck, marketing and alliance manager at Fordway.
"They can also assist in raising awareness of your organisation’s relevance to a particular customer segment or industry vertical. The ceremony itself should be a great opportunity to celebrate your success with those customers whose engagements have made it possible," he adds.
As well as giving the staff at a winning business a warm glow of recognition there are also positive ramifications with the way that customers perceive a business.
"From my experience i there is an abundance of end customer and channel awards in the technology sector. The end customer awards give customers a ‘comfort blanket’ feeling that the business they are dealing with has a track record and recognition from its peers. It obviously doesn’t replace any of the traditional ways of vetting a company, but it often serves as additional assurance," says Matthew McGrory, sales director at Carrenza.
He adds a warning about quantity versus quality and advises those entering awards to think carefully about the process.
Choosing the right competition
"Channel awards are challenging, because there are so many of them. Many offer good forums to network and meet with new players in their specific channel field, but because there is a lot of overlap between sectors, the value of some awards are diminishing," he says.
"As an SMECloud supplier, we have to be selective about what marketing activities we invest in, so choosing the right awards to enter is always challenging. There are normally time consuming processes, like award entries, to write and get signed off. With lengthy descriptions required that are typically driven by ‘marketing speak’ rather than the value that the technology has actually brought to the marketplace," he adds.
"The challenge for all awards is the balance between having a robust enough entry mechanic that means winning actually means something, while making it easy and quick enough for teams to enter in the first place," he concludes.
Picking up on the final comments from McGrory the process needs to be straightforward enough that a marketing team could develop an entry that could then be tweaked to be used as their pitch for numerous awards. Over the years the process of running awards has also changed to make sure that the entry process is as painless as possible.
The encouraging conclusion given the views of those shared in this article is that awards continue to be seen as coveted prizes and being short-listed and even winning can be hugely beneficial for the staff, brand, standing with vendors as well as how a business is viewed by a customer.
Awards clearly continue to play a major role in the channel and will continue to attract interest from resellers of all sizes, distributors and vendors.