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Andrew Berg joins Apex to lead business development and sales with Apex’s commercial and government customers. Previously Andrew was VP of Business Development at Loft Orbital. In this blog post, we’ll do a Q&A with Andrew.
Q: What led you to the world of aerospace?
My first job out of college was working as a management consultant at a small firm focused on defense & aerospace. We did consulting projects - the typical strategy and org design consulting work - for many of the big aerospace companies in the US and abroad and for parts of the US government. Over time I ended up specializing in the space part of aerospace. This was my entry point into the world of space and satellites. It was around the time when “new space” was becoming something that traditional space players were starting to pay attention to.
Q: Tell us a bit about the world of selling satellite buses. What does a typical sales process look like?
It’s a little different based on the type of customer we are working with. At Apex, we’re developing satellite buses as a commercial product, and then we’re offering that product to both government and commercial customers. This means we deal with a diverse set of customers: government and commercial, all over the world. Each of them have different buying habits and each of them care about different things. Fundamentally it comes down to getting in front of the customer, understanding their requirements and priorities, being open and transparent about the product you’re trying to sell, and being creative with negotiating so that both parties get a deal they’re happy with. Then we stay with our customers through the lifecycle of their mission, because ultimately the most important thing is that their mission is successful (and they come back for more).
Q: What’s the craziest thing you went through to close a sale?
Lots of Zoom meetings? I don’t have too many wild stories here, because a lot of the satellite buying/selling process is pretty tame. One less-than-typical experience comes to mind: with a couple hours notice, I ended up a private jet ride with a handful of super-wealthy cryptocurrency people with some unique ideas for a satellite constellation. We didn’t close the deal though, and it was a 1-way jet ride so I bought a Southwest flight back home.
Q: What’s your favorite part of working within the satellite industry?
There’s a lot I enjoy about the space industry. If I had to pick one, above all it’s seeing the diversity of missions and applications that smart people are building. In a typical day, for example, we might talk with a team working on an important national security mission in the morning and with a startup with an idea for a new remote sensing business in the afternoon. And lots in between! Seeing the creativity and passion that people are applying to take advantage of the changing economics of space is really rewarding and lots of fun.
Q: What attracted you to Apex?
I am convinced that a truly productized small satellite bus that can be delivered quickly and manufactured at scale is something the space industry needs. But what ultimately drew me to Apex is the caliber of the engineering team that’s growing here. A lot of companies are using the same buzzwords about small satellite buses, but it’s another thing to actually execute. I think Apex has the right vision to distrupt the industry and the right team to make it happen.
Q: What do most people misunderstand about sales roles?
“Sales” is a term that doesn’t get used too often in the space industry (think “Business Development” instead). Sales people occasionally get a bad rap and might be associated with the used-car-salesman stereotype. In reality most of us aren’t like that. Yes, we want you to buy our stuff. But in my view, in the end the most important thing is our customers having a successful mission, so we want to be honest, upfront, and transparent with people we are trying to sell to. The space industry is small and a bad reputation as a company can be hard to lose, so it doesn’t do you any favors to promise the world if you can’t deliver on it.
Also, BD or sales people might badger you with dozens of follow-up emails, but trust me, we don’t enjoy it!