The client is a metal cutting, welding and positioning equipment manufacturer with three business lines – two capital equipment lines and commodity line of portable equipment. The company’s primary business targets are the transportation industry, general metal fabrication shops, and steel service centers.
When Athena first met with its client, fluctuations in the commodity markets were creating a significant downturn in business for capital equipment manufacturers. This coupled with long and unpredictable sales cycles left the company looking for alternatives for how they go to market.
In addition, the company was struggling with trying to find the right types of qualified sales opportunities. Its sales people were generating a large number of quotes but were allocating time to opportunities that were not viable nor the type of targeted long relationships the company wanted to engaging with. Although they were converting quotes to sales at a rate of 5 percent to 11 percent, which is industry standard, management felt this percentage should be higher.
The sales team consisted of internal business unit managers, outside distributors and sales representatives, all of which were focused on product and provided solid technical subject matter expertise. However, the team was lacking the hunting and/or sales skill sets needed to develop new sales opportunities. Most new business was coming from referrals and trade shows. Lastly, it needed a proactive way to tap into its existing customer base to uncover those current customers and dormant accounts that may provide additional new equipment, refurbish, and upgrade opportunities.
Looking for a Better Way
Between the general downturn in the capital equipment market, the company’s lack of targeted focus, and the lack of hunting and new business development skill sets/activities to develop new sales leads, the equipment manufacturer was looking for alternative methods to boost its sales growth efforts, as well as reallocate the focus of its current sales resources to that of primarily working on closing sales and servicing current accounts.
An Economical Solution
The equipment manufacturer was interested in evaluating a more economical and feasible way to scale long- and short-term sales growth without making a large, long-term investment in internal front-end sales and marketing resources. Between hiring the right people, establishing processes, and providing the necessary tools, the cost would be considerable. Creating this in-house could take it a year or more—time it didn’t have to squander.
The manufacturer was interested in securing an outsourced partnership with a firm that had a proven track record for introducing a continuous flow of highly qualified, sales-ready leads into the sales pipelines of companies, like itself, that had complex sales environments.
The manufacturing company president had worked with Athena SWC during his tenure at another manufacturing company and had seen the success of Athena’s program. Partnering with Athena just made economical sense.
Athena’s Proven Model
Athena presented the company with an infrastructure process model that provided the processes, personnel, and enabling tools and technologies needed to secure the right type of sales-ready leads. With a focus on targeting new account opportunities and
existing customers that offer greater sales potential, Athena’s repeatable, measurable, and scalable model provided the marketing/sales support and on-going relationship building efforts required to grow and sustain the specified market segments.
Following the Process
The first step was to nail down the manufacturers “perfect” prospect by defining the preferred industries, company size (sales volume), geographical location, contact titles, and number of contacts required per company. The manufacturer provided some company names, and Athena’s research team went to work verifying contact information and further expanding the list of contacts.
Athena’s Relationship Acquisition and Management Process (RAMP) (phone calls, direct mail, email, inside sales follow up) ensured each prospect received multiple and continuous touches, building awareness and education about the manufacturer’s product lines. This was especially important because often its customers would only recognize it for one business line, not being aware of the other equipment it manufactured.
In addition, a permission-based nurture program kept the company’s name in front of prospects that were interested but not
ready to enter the active sales cycle.
The program also provided constant communication through weekly updates, monthly sales pipeline meetings, and quarterly management meetings. It also provided market related feedback and on-going process improvement efforts.
Athena’s outbound marketing processes allowed the manufacturer to accomplish its goal of increasing opportunities, increasing market awareness of its product lines, and increasing sales rep productivity by allowing its sales staff to focus on closing new business and servicing existing clients.
Over an 18-month period of partnering with Athena, the equipment manufacturer closed five new capital equipment relationships and created over $2 million of new opportunity potentials injected in the active sales pipeline. The value is not known for other opportunities that were that passed on to the manufacturer’s distribution partners, but noted an increase sales and new opportunity flow within this sales channel. In addition, Athena’s processes have been successful with familiarizing new prospects, select current customers, as well as past and dormant customers with all of the business lines of the equipment manufacturer.