Mentor-Net Case Study: Airbox Aerospace

Aviation navigation firm powers ahead thanks to Mentor-Net

Software designed and built by Airbox Aerospace helps pilots stay safe in the sky.

Formed in 2008, the market-leading Oxfordshire company supplies navigational and situational aids that reduce the risk of planes infringing permitted flight paths or colliding.

Airbox warning devices harness the power of GIS (geographic information systems) and the satellite-based GPS (Global Positioning System). The key use is for mission planning and execution in high-pressure aviation environments.

Clients include air ambulances and other emergency responders, the National Air Traffic Control Service (NATS), and the security and military services.

Pilot and engineer William Moore is a co-founder and Technical Director of Airbox.

Aviation safety firm set to close more deals thanks to Mentor-NeDespite the company’s expansion and success, William identified the need for a more focused sales strategy. Through a word-of-mouth referral, he was put in touch with negotiation expert Steve Jones, a Newbury-based mentor on WSX Enterprise’s Mentor-Net network.

William says: “We have an insanely great product, and, although we already have some very high quality customers, we know that we should be able to achieve more reach. We have always been ‘engineer-led’ and didn’t want to fall into that typically British characteristic of being very good at inventing but less good at selling.”

Over a series of one-to-one meetings, Steve and William talked through specific aspects of how Airbox was approaching the sales process.

William says: “We had always found pricing strategy quite challenging because of the specialist, bespoke nature of what we do, and that to support different areas can be quite difficult. It was really useful to have the outside perspective of an expert such as Steve. We homed in on the way we talk about our product in a sales context. Each session ended with action points to develop and Steve would email us with follow-up ideas to think about.”

Steve’s mentoring to Airbox was provided through Air, Land and Sea, an initiative specifically aimed at firms active in aviation, marine and engineering.

Steve says: “William and his team have been receptive. They have clarified their thinking on how they go about sales. I’ve been a sounding board. Sometimes you just need someone to tell you that you are doing it right. At other times I am quite challenging, asking difficult questions. They needed to look at their time management and the overall effort behind their sales strategy. They are more focused now.”

William, who heads an 11-strong team at Airbox’s software development and design studio at Wantage, Oxfordshire, adds: “Anyone with relevant outside experience and who is on top of their game like Steve is worth engaging with. He is very active in his field, stays up to date with the latest techniques and offers forward-leaning, punchy advice. We want to keep him as an ongoing mentor and wise counsel. With his input we have updated what we do and are now much more specific about how we negotiate, close the deal and achieve our strategic objectives.”    

WSX Enterprise’s Mentor-Net programme is aimed at providing support for small businesses across the South.

The service is confidential and the mentors are all volunteers keen to share their specialist business knowledge and skills.

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