Who is Athena SWC?
Athena SWC provides an outsourced infrastructure model that focuses on demand generation, lead management, marketing, and sales support process services. We provide a combination of people, process, and tools which deliver best practice solutions that enable businesses to achieve marketing operational excellence that can be leveraged and exploited to increase market share and bottom-line profits.
We achieve this by guiding our clients to think through, develop, and implement strategies and improvements that are best for their business and that help them achieve a distinct and competitive advantage.
Our expertise is focused on helping Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Healthcare, complex selling environments generate high volumes of qualified leads, improve sales rep productivity and compress sales cycles, develop, manage and nurture relationships until they are ready to engage in an active sales cycle, increase market intelligence and awareness in the market for your company and your products/services. Our true competitive differentiation is in our ability to quantify your marketing investments and track those activities back to bottom-line sales return.
Typically, companies find themselves engaging in our services because they are looking for a low-risk vehicle to quickly test and/or launch into new markets, obtain intelligence to better understand demand and generate sales results (without making large investments in operating overhead). Other reasons include current business development/marketing activities are not producing the desired results or there is a limitation regarding resource/capacity to deliver the required qualified sales opportunities.
In 2005, Todd Zielinski and Michael Scalzo worked for GEMKO Information Group (an value-added ERP software reseller and IT solutions consulting firm), which was a subsidiary of Gaines Kriner Elliott (a CPA consulting firm). Todd was the marketing development manager, and Michael was the managing partner and CEO.
The managing Partner of Gaines Kriner Elliot at the time was Rocco Surace. Rocco is a Certified Jonah (by Goldratt Institute) in manufacturing processes and system improvement, which focuses on the theory of constraints (TOC); he also served as North American Regional Director for Goldratt Consulting from 2004 to 2006.
It was at GEMKO that Todd developed the foundation for Athena’s process model and methodology still used by the company today, which is based on TOC theory (a division of labor concepts in the sales process).
He read books on spin selling and TOC; trained in TOC and IBM solution selling methodologies; spoke with various IBM and Microsoft executives on best practices for marketing, sales, and lead generation; experienced some trial and error to hone in on a successful consultative process-based solution for lead generation and new business development efforts. As a result, Gemko decreased its sales rep capacity while increasing sales throughput.
In 2006, Gaines Kriner Elliot was looking to bring in additional revenue by offering business consulting and process improvement services to the accounting firm. Michael felt that the sales and marketing process being used at GEMKO could be packaged as a line of business for this new consulting practice and help bring in new clients, which could then be introduced to both the IT and Accounting firms.
Gaines Kriner Elliot, Todd, and Michael made financial investments into the startup, and Athena SWC was formally launched in August 2007 as a subsidiary of Gaines Kriner Elliot. Initially, it was a business process consulting firm with three divisions: TOC manufacturing and demand replenishment technology and consulting services, strategic and business planning consulting, and outsourced sales and marketing solutions.
Todd and Michael both worked part-time at building Athena while working part-time at GEMKO. As the company grew, they focused their efforts on further refining the sales and marketing processes, eventually dropping the other divisions to remain focused on the growth of the outbound new business development model. Christopher Mays was hired part-time as the first Athena employee.
In the early years, Athena was offering project-based solutions, but in 2013, the company pivoted to a true outsourced model that was developed over 12-18 months. Athena grew 150% that year and continues to see growth each year.
The same year Gaines Kriner Elliot merged with The Bonadio Group, operating under the Bonadio name, and Athena became an independent subsidiary of The Bonadio Group.
Process improvement is ingrained in Athena’s culture, and the company is committing to adjusting to the needs of the market. Processes have been refined, and investments have been made in technology over the years.
In 2019 Athena moved from its proprietary CRM to Pipedrive CRM, becoming an elite partner.
In 2020, Athena pivoted its process model again to offering integrated inbound and outbound marketing, lead generation, and sales support services for technology, highly complex manufacturing, and B2B sales environments. The company officially partnered with Thomas, providing digital, web, and inbound marketing capabilities, becoming the first Certified Thomas Agency in North America. Athena also launched its new company website to rebrand the company under this integrated inbound and outbound marketing process model.