Winning a Microsoft award or becoming a finalist raises your profile in the eyes of Microsoft, your peers and potential customers.

However, it’s not easy to win. Judges carefully scrutinize every submission to find those award-worthy stories. There are a few things that will get you eliminated right away, never mind ruin your chances of ever reaching the podium.

How do we know? We talked to a former judge and now senior consultant at Mercer-MacKay, Corinne Sharp, and this is what she had to say:

“The number one rule: put yourself in the judges’ shoes,” noted Corinne. “We had hundreds of award submissions to read and evaluate each year. To get through them all in busy times, you needed an efficient system to find the best, winning entries.”

As a result, Corinne developed her own system. She explained, “I’d skim the first paragraph, and if it grabbed my attention and was really great I’d put in the in ‘A-pile’. If it was poorly written or uninteresting it’d go in the ‘C-pile’. If it had some great points and kept my interest, it would go in the ‘B-pile’.”

More often than not, being placed in the ‘A-pile’ meant those partners’ stories had a better chance of being further considered as winners or finalists once Corinne went back to do a full evaluation of the top contenders.

You want your submission in the ‘A-pile’ from the start. So, thanks to Corinne’s valuable insights, here are the five things that will stop your submission from making it as a top contender:

1. The Best Stuff Shows Up at the End

All your best information needs to be upfront. Many judges are skimming, so having a strong opening headline, compelling imagery and an engaging opening paragraph is crucial. Your award submission should be told like a story and that means capturing the judge’s attention upfront.

2. There is No Customer Reference

The story is all about how you’ve helped a customer(s) grow and transform with Microsoft technologies and solutions. This means you must have a customer reference to support your story. An unnamed customer or no customer mentioned in your submission will get you eliminated.

3. It’s About Old Technology

It can’t be 10-year-old technology. Microsoft isn’t interested. Your award submission needs to focus on what Microsoft is interested in like Azure, Dynamics 365 and Office 365. No matter how cool the solution is, if it is not current technology it is not going to win.

4. There is No Proof of ROI

The ROI is your supporting evidence that makes the story come alive. It’s not good enough to answer ‘yes’. The more tangible proof you have, the better. That may require digging deeper in order to quantify the results your customer had after implementing the solution.

5. It’s Poorly Written and Riddled with Errors

If the beginning is poorly written or has spelling/grammar mistakes, it sets the expectation for the rest of the submission. A judge is not going to spend the time reading any further. Give yourself and your team time to write your award submissions. Take extra care and proofread your entry multiple times. Too often partners wait too long and are under pressure of meeting the tight deadline, so quality is sacrificed.

We Help Microsoft Partners Win.

Believe it or not, Mercer-MacKay Digital Storytelling was founded on writing Microsoft Award Submissions.

Our special process for writing award submissions is a proven method that has helped Microsoft Partners receive recognition for their outstanding work through an award-winning story.

If you need help identifying your award-worthy story and writing your submission(s), we’d love to work with you.

Learn more about our award submission process and pricing by clicking the button below.