Business development roles involve the creation of long-term value for an organisation from both existing and new customers, markets and relationships.
How to succeed in business development.
To succeed in this field, you are going to need to be extremely commercially aware, target-driven, creative, analytical and very much a people-person.
You will need to think as creatively as your marketing colleagues whilst also exhibiting the tenacity and persistence of the sales team. You are also going to need to have a head for figures and, at the same time, be a seasoned hand at developing relationships.
Business development jobs are increasingly central to the sales and marketing teams of companies; this is especially true in the tech sector.
At the heart of the requirements for these roles is someone who has an eye for opportunities and a talent for orchestrating spaces where customers, markets and partnerships can be brought together to create opportunities for growth.
Key skills for business development jobs.
Here are the key skills and characteristics that you must be able to exhibit if you are looking to progress your career in business development.
1. Creative skills.
Whether it is seeing new ways existing opportunities could be developed, or finding completely new routes to market, creative thinking is essential for the role.
2. Analytical skills.
For business development, however, this creativity must be built on the bedrock of an analytical mind.
You will need to use market research and sales data to present opportunities to stakeholders and you will need to quickly understand what makes commercial sense to pursue and what could potentially cost more to explore than it could ever bring in.
An in-depth understanding the wider market is essential if new, realistic, attainable and profitable opportunities are to be proposed and developed.
3. Communication skills.
Business development is not for those who like to work alone.
You will need to obtain support from senior management, marketing, finance and product or service teams. You may be required to coordinate with account managers and sales teams whose traditional priorities and focus lie elsewhere.
Outside of your organisation, your role is to convince others to invest in, or partner with, your organisation, so presentation and communication skills will be frequently called on.
4. Negotiation skills.
New business always requires new terms, and it will be your responsibility to ensure that the terms agreed upon are favourable to your organisation.
Communication skills will gain you a foot through the door – but having negotiation skills will ensure the door is kept opened for future growth.
New business is rarely won overnight.
You are going to need to demonstrate that you can maintain and develop relationships over long periods, yet still have the ability to pull in quick wins to meet objectives and targets.
Your focus must always be on meeting targets and you must demonstrate that you have the ability to pursue a long-term strategic vision whilst remaining flexible enough to respond tactically to changing demands or unexpected opportunities.
6. Organisational skills.
There are many balls to juggle and not all will be falling at the same rate.
You must respond quickly to meet tight deadlines, yet still nurture and develop slower-burning opportunities.
It's a balancing act, you'll have to juggle organising other team’s workload as well as your own, but you welcome the challenge.
Business development careers.
Business development sits at the intersection between marketing and sales, but it also reaches into new product or service development.
It requires a strong commercial awareness, impeccable presentation and interpersonal skills as well as drive, determination and that most elusive quality that is belief.
Business development, straddling as it does many other functions of the organisation, requires you to work well across teams and to be able to communicate your enthusiasm and belief to both junior and senior stakeholders.
Creativity here needs to be informed by analytical, interpersonal and organisational skills.