Success Story: Athena’s Business Development Efforts Add $5 Million to the Pipeline for a Precision Machining Company

Like many metal manufacturers, Aztalan’s business development efforts were not producing the results they needed. Working with Athena, changed that.

Client Profile

Aztalan,located in Lake Mills, WI, is a manufacturer of precision machined parts for critical applications, whether used on a battlefield or operating room.

Business Situation

Aztalan was struggling to find leads and secure new opportunities. In addition, they were incurring a significant risk, with most of their business tied to one key account.

“We were very dependent on one big customer. It was 85 to 90% of our business. Our internal sales team got extremely comfortable with that being the process, but any time you have all your eggs in one basket, any time that customer feels a little bit of pain, we feel it ten times over. We needed to find a new way to sell and market our capabilities,” said Aztalan President and CEO Ryan Blaine.

Aztalan hadn’t been actively searching for new opportunities for several years, and the current sales force didn’t have the skill sets required to aggressively sell the company’s value. Aztalan lacked the resources to create internal marketing and inside sales teams. This was when they began searching for a partner that could help with front-end marketing and sales coordination. They considered hiring outside sales reps, but one of Aztalan’s salespeople searched the web for a solution and landed on Athena SWC.

Demonstrated Experience

“I was very skeptical that a company in New York would have the ability to know our business, talk with customers, and represent us properly,” said Ryan. “After going through the opening presentation, I got very comfortable with what they had – the proven process, the consistency, the structure, and the detail of their sales process. It showed very well and got us excited. We could see the possibilities with Athena. The process is very strategic. We were drawn to the structure.”

Another facet that resonated with the team was Athena’s experience working with precision metal manufacturers.

“We quickly learned that Athena had worked with Basin Precision, and we had a relationship with them – they are just 25 miles down the road,” said Ryan. “So, we did a reference check, and they gave a pretty good reference.”

Program Launch

The kickoff meeting with a new client is three to four hours long. It allows Athena to take a deep dive into the company, helping to uncover its value proposition and develop a target market profile, learning about its manufacturing services, and introducing Athena’s sales and marketing infrastructure as it applies to the client. Athena Account Manager Zach Costello led the kickoff meeting between the two teams.

“I was surprised at how much they dove in and how Zach tried to really become a part of the Aztalan team and fully understand our business,” said Ryan. “They asked questions I hadn’t thought of and got my wheels turning and creative juices flowing. Zach was definitely the driving force during that 60 to 90-day launch. They were very upfront and said, ‘this is what it will take. We need you to put in just as much time as we do to get it launched.’ I appreciated the honesty and the openness.”

A Proven Process Gets Results

After the kickoff meeting, there is a 45-day period where prospect lists are built, content is created, technology is set up, and scripts are written and rehearsed. Once everything is approved and in place, emails and outbound calls begin. All calls are recorded, and all information received from prospects (positive or negative) is passed on to Aztalan.

“We get the email conversations or the call recordings, so we can get up to speed pretty quickly. Once a lead becomes hot, it allows us to jump right in and take it from there. It’s really been helpful,” said Ryan.

Another aspect of the program that Ryan appreciated is accountability for Aztalan and the lead. Athena’s team will schedule the virtual meeting or call between the prospect and Aztalan. Reminders will also be sent. If the prospect fails to show, Athena will reach back out to attempt to reschedule the meeting. If quotes are late or information is needed from the client, Athena will follow up to move the process forward. Athena also stays on top of how leads progress once handed off to the Aztalan salesperson.

“Athena holds us accountable as well as holding some of the leads accountable. It’s a proven process that works very well for Athena and its customers. We can definitely see that,” said Ryan. “It surprises me a little bit about how well they’re able to keep both sides accountable.”

Just recently, Athena began some sales coordination efforts to help the sales team after a lead has been secured—whether that is following up on quotes, reaching back out to a prospect that hasn’t responded since an initial meeting, or finding out why a quote was lost.

In one case, one of Aztalan’s current customers became silent and wasn’t responding after a project was quoted. Athena offered to find out what had happened. Zach called them and found out why the quote was lost, and now they are working with the customer to secure future projects.

Sales Success

To date, the opportunities brought to Aztalan through Athena’s efforts have totaled over $5 million. The active sales pipeline is $2.4 million, and the company has closed four sales valued at close to $123,000. Three of the closures have the potential to generate hundreds of thousands annually.

The Results