Success Story: Custom Corrugated Solutions Provider Sees $450K in New Sales, Anticipating $6+M Annual Potential with Athena’s Effective Sales Strategy

Client Profile

The client is an independent manufacturer of custom and standard die-cut, flexo-printed, and specialty corrugated box and display products. The company focuses on short-run and long-run brown boxes and custom-designed containers.

Business Situation

An independent packaging company was structuring itself for growth, and as part of this initiative, it purchased a new piece of equipment to significantly expand production capacity. To leverage this new capacity, the company hired a sales director and sales representatives to aggressively penetrate the market. They had put together an extensive list of local companies to target but didn’t have contacts at those companies.

Armed with this list, the sales team adopted a grassroots strategy—literally knocking on doors to introduce their offerings. However, this approach was slow, and management decided it didn’t want the sales reps spending their time vetting these prospects and instead preferred they were following up on qualified opportunities. They needed an effective sales strategy. They contacted Athena SWC in late 2019 to learn about its sales and marketing processes and see if it was a viable option for handling its front-end sales prospecting.

Back On Track

By late 2020, the situation stabilized enough for the corrugated packaging company to re-engage with Athena and take advantage of its outsourced infrastructure approach (people, processes, and tools). Using this model, Athena’s team pursues targeted prospects using inbound and outbound marketing activities, focusing on the sales cycle’s front end. The partnership kicked off with a virtual meeting, during which Athena learned about the corrugated company and the value it brings to its customers.

The company opted for a best-practice inbound and outbound holistic program. The outbound methods include phone calls and targeted emails to reach specific targets defined during the kickoff meeting.

The inbound portion includes optimizing the company’s website for SEO, writing optimized blog posts, tracking website visitors, implementing a website chatbot, and posting on LinkedIn. Unlike other inbound providers, Athena’s process model includes calling and vetting prospects that appear to be a fit when they have visited the website or filled out a form.

Patience Pays Off

he first year of collaboration with Athena was characterized as an investment year—a period of setting the groundwork and building a sales pipeline. Despite being an initial phase, the program produced tangible results that included creating marketing materials (the company had none), refining its target market, and developing a decent pipeline that set the stage for growth in the following years.

The subsequent years, years 2 and 3, witnessed significant growth in terms of the size of the sales pipeline and gaining new customers, enhanced by effective SEO strategies. The company also invested in Pipedrive for its sales team, the CRM used by Athena, for better tracking of activity and results.

Athena’s team, proficient in conversations about corrugated products, played a pivotal role by staying engaged with prospects and assisting the corrugated packaging company’s sales team with setting appointments, providing samples, gathering the necessary information for quoting, and following up on quotes to gain resolution. Their involvement extended beyond front-end sales support to include helping with recruiting new sales representatives, promoting the company’s charitable activities through LinkedIn, and enhancing its overall online presence.

The Results

The economic impact of the collaboration was substantial, with the company closing ten new accounts, translating into $450k in collected revenue with the potential of over $6M annually. One of the closures alone has a $2.5M annual spending potential. The sales pipeline is currently at $6.1M in total spending, underscoring the effectiveness of Athena’s approach.

From the inbound side, organic traffic increased by 132%, with a 107% increase in web pages appearing in the top five search engine results page (SERP) position. Because of this traffic, website form submissions increased by 170% from year 2 to 3, and since Athena took over the website SEO, submissions have increased by 580%.

The partnership’s success was not limited to quantitative achievements. The qualitative benefits, such as shorter sales cycles and an enhanced online presence, were equally significant. Athena’s efforts in making cold calls, following up on inbound leads, and methodically nurturing the sales funnel improved the company’s sales efficiency and effectiveness.

The results achieved over the three years illustrate the power of patience and having a repeatable front-end sales process. The company’s online presence, SEO performance, and follow-up strategies have consistently improved the company’s results year over year with no signs of slowing down.