Three things I learned from the Channel Elite Awards

On September 10, team Ulistic was invited to attend Computer Dealer News’ Channel Elite Awards in Toronto. This annual affair, which has been held for the last 12 years, honours the top IT solution providers across Canada. Many of these companies would be considered to be managed service providers as well as system integrators.

Not only is this a fantastic networking event for members of the Ulistic team, it’s also a time to learn what is working in managed services community from the best IT service companies. This is the cream of the crop in the Canadian IT community.

What did we learn this year?

Three very important factors separated the winners from those who were not in attendance. Two of these are critical items that, when executed properly, can propel a managed services company to greatness.

  • Do something unique and different
    This was the constant message delivered throughout the evening. The winner of the Top Solution Provider of the Year award developed a technology service called Panacea to help those in hospital access the Internet, on-demand entertainment, and up-to-date chart information. Another winner, IT Weapons showed off the top channel marketing solution that was an offshoot of the television program “Undercover Boss.” These were new, creative ways of delivering IT solutions to markets typically ignored by other companies. Doing something different has proven to the right formula for success in the IT industry – an industry that at times seems to be made up of a series of clones. It’s those who stand out and break free from the pack that succeeds.
  • Invest in marketing
    I had a chance to chat briefly with MIT Consulting’s Erez Zevulunov in the food line after the awards ceremony. Erez’s Toronto-based managed services company, who won the bronze award for marketing, is not unlike many companies in the MSP community. Employing a “lean and mean” IT staff, Erez stands as proof that a commitment to marketing does pay off in the end. MIT’s annual trade show brings in over $500,000 in net new revenue annually.
  • Your strategic vendors are your allies
    Vendors come and go in our industry, and every upset IT vendor wants a piece of your business. Your strategic vendors can help you win new business and work with you to make a big splash. All the examples from the evening proved that strategic vendor relationships are worth their weight in gold: from IT Weapons partnering with Cisco, to I3 Solutions working with Microsoft to deliver Panacea.The night’s winners were those who were not only unafraid to try something different, but were also willing to find the right vendors to work with and cultivate those relationships. Vendor partnerships are the lifeline to your MSP’s success, and they need to be treated like your best clients.

Marketing and running a successful MSP is not something you can just put on autopilot. You’ve got to work at it, take strategic risks, and make the effort every day to think outside the box.

Take the time to invest in running your MSP business and figure out what you can do to separate yourself from the pack. You will enjoy the fruits of your efforts for many years to come, and as the industry continues to implode, you will have something that will continue to grow.

Ulistic provides marketing services to managed services providers. The Ulistic team acts as part of your team, engaging and working with your MSP each day to assist in providing the foundation for stratospheric success. Learn more at

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Stuart Crawford
Stuart Crawford
Stuart Crawford is an MSP marketing specialist and coaching professional. He is president of Ulistic Inc., a managed services coaching, mentorship, sales and outsourced marketing services firm. For more info call u 716.799.1999 or email [email protected]

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