At a Glance
- Getting a business award or being recognised by a third-party organisation could help attract and retain customers and employees.
- To win an award, having the facts on your side does not suffice; you must also have the right strategies for the application, preparation, and presentation processes.
- Your work could be the best among the competition, but it will not matter if you cannot convince the judges.
Winning a business award could do wonders for your company: It could promote your brand, help your organisation to attract and retain customers, increase employee morale and retention, and create competitiveness in the organisation.
That said, being recognised by a third-party award organisation is a tall order. Working with the best talent, applying the right methodology, and having demonstratable outcomes do not guarantee your success. Beyond the work itself, a combination of the right actions must come together so that your work could stand out and win an award.
Here are the top five practical strategies that could increase your chances of winning a business award based on our experience.
1. PICK THE RIGHT CATEGORY(IES) WHERE YOUR WORK COULD SHINE
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Sun Tzu
Let’s assume that your customer experience (CX) project is a resounding success. The metrics show that this is your company’s most significant achievement to date. That, however, does not guarantee that your CX project is the best out there. You have to assume that there might be someone out there whose work is equally impressive as – or better than – yours.
To illustrate, imagine as a CX expert located in the GCC region, you made your company 18% more customer-centric. Consequently, you decided to apply to the Gulf Customer Experience Awards.
You have to make an important decision right off the bat, as there are more than ten categories. Should you apply under the CX Strategy or CX Team of the Year? Does your project fall under CX in Times of Crisis or Digital Transformation?
As the saying goes, every choice is a renunciation. You need to commit to a category while sacrificing others. Start by reading each category description and requirements. Then, evaluate your chances of winning for each category based on your strengths and shortcomings. At this stage, invite others within your organisation to be a part of the dialogue. Let them challenge your thinking. That honest discussion will reveal the right category(s) in which your work would stand out.
Lesson 1: While there are no hard rules, our experience shows that one should not apply to more than three categories at once.
2. BE CONCISE AND PRECISE
“I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.” Blaise Pascal
We often assume that the more is, the better. Maybe there is plenty of information you want to share with the judges. However, providing more than the necessary information does not mean your work entails recognition. In contrast, it could create confusion in the minds of the judges.
For example, you decided to apply for a Business Excellence award. One of the questions you need to address is “What are the goals and objectives of the initiative you implemented, and what is the impact of your work on the business?”
While answering that question, you need to be specific about your objectives and the results associated with those objectives. Besides a concise narrative, your submission should include precise quantitative figures to quantify the impact. You must present the information so that the judges could quickly follow, understand the result, and evaluate the work accordingly. You also need to back up the data, for the judges will want to see proof of any claims you make.
Lesson 2: Create a concise narrative, support it with precise facts, and provide relevant proof points.
3. LEARN FROM THE PAST ENTRANTS’ EXPERIENCE
“If you have the kind of intelligence and instinct that will point you in the right direction, playing the rebel will not be dangerous. But if you are mediocre … you are better off learning from your predecessor’s knowledge and experience, which are based on something real.” Robert Greene
Before you apply, you must study others’ failures and successes. Past entrant’s experience is valuable and could provide you with insights about the application, preparation, and presentation process.
Sometimes you can find such information publicly. Even then, reach out to these organisations that previously participated in the category you intend to apply. Ask them about the challenges they faced, questions they were asked, the atmosphere they dealt with. Such first-hand insights would guide your strategy.
Lesson 3: Reach out to past entrants, learn from their experience, and strategize accordingly.
4. PUT YOURSELF IN JUDGES’ SHOES WHILE BUILDING YOUR PRESENTATION
“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” Henry Ford
People don’t just hear; they hear and predict what should come next. Likewise, people don’t just see; they predict what should be seen. One of the common mistakes is failing to address the audience’s expectations. You can avoid that mistake by asking yourself a simple question: “What kind of information, design, and storyline would I want to see if I were a judge?”
Let’s consider a scenario. You are applying for the “Customers at the heart of everything” category in the International Customer Experience Awards. You are asked to demonstrate putting the customer at the heart of everything within your CX initiative in six categories: strategy, insights, experience design, metrics, organisation adaptation, and culture. Here is how you should proceed.
Judges expect to see results. But first and foremost, they want to know that you care about your customers. So, throughout the presentation, whenever possible, showcase how much you mind your customers.
Yes, you must provide the expected business outcomes such as ROI, increase in customer base, and value. That said, don’t stop there: go the extra mile to demonstrate how your initiative improved your customer’s lives, as that’s what the judges are looking to hear.
Lesson 4: While judges expect you to demonstrate quantitative improvement, what they want is to see how much you care about your work and customer.
5. PRESENT TO WIN
“In making a speech, one must study three points: first, the means of producing persuasion; second, the language; third, the proper arrangement of the various parts of the speech.” Aristotle
Your work could be the best among the competition, but it will not matter if you cannot convince the judges. Besides engaging the judges, you must let your passion shine throughout the presentation. Our brain craves meaning before details. That’s why you need to show the big picture to the judges before giving them the facts. To do that, choose key visuals that reflect your message and supplement them with a few words. Even better, you can embed a couple of videos of your customers and showcase how your initiative improves their life.
At this point, you need to think like a storyteller: Create a hero (your initiative) and a villain (the problem). Inform and educate the judges with a touch of entertainment. Don’t just throw numbers at the judges. Instead, provide them with a perspective regarding those figures.
Also, a little dramatisation could help. After all, people still remember when Steve Jobs pulled the Macbook Air from an envelope to demonstrate how thin and light it is. Where possible, create a multi-sensory experience that the judges can feel the impact of your initiative. Finally, body language matters. Keeping eye contact, having an open posture, and using appropriate hand gestures will make confident, clear, and passionate in the judges’ eyes.
Lesson 5: Your presentation’s success will be judged not by the knowledge you send but by what the listener receives. Think like a storyteller, have some flair for the dramatic, and deliver with confidence.