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Business Development Manager

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Have you ever sat back and wondered how your analytical personality or deep network of corporate connections could be put to maximum use?

If so, you’re like me.

I love to meet new people, analyze business solutions, and best of all, directly drive the growth of a company.

If this sounds like you, then you need to check out how to become a business development manager.

These skills are highly sought after by companies around the globe, and there’s no better time than now to get started.

This post will show you everything you need to know about this position, including what to expect and how to get started.

What is Business Development?

If you go out into the corporate world and ask for a definition of business development, you’ll likely get a different answer from each person you ask.

It can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, depending on who you talk to.

There are varying roles in this field – anywhere from business planners to business development specialists to management consultants.

So this makes sense, everybody has their own definition.

Business development, sometimes also known in the corporate world simply as “biz dev” or “BDM”, is a combination of sales, customer relations, and program development.

At the core, biz dev is all about generating new business, and creating business opportunities and growth for a company using as many strategic growth channels as possible.

Business Development Manager Job Description

Business development managers are responsible for developing the business side of a company and dealing with the numerous business opportunities which are presented to an organisation throughout the year.

Business development managers help an organisation become as successful as possible.

These managers rely upon in-depth knowledge of business theories to allow enterprises to grow.

They evaluate the current performance of a particular business and think about ways in which it should be changed in order for it to reach its full potential.

They perform numerous different tasks but, most importantly, they perform thorough assessments of the current marketing opportunities and research the identities of specific target markets.

Some of the tasks performed are similar to those conducted by a market researcher or a freelance marketing consultant.

For instance, business development managers will try to gather informative data about customer trends and tastes, as well as information about the competition in each market in which the business is involved.

However, their role differs from that of a market researcher, since they are responsible for how this collected data is used.

For instance, they will decide whether the collated data shows sufficient support to allow a new product to be launched and, if it does, they will be in charge of initiating this project.

They will also be responsible for monitoring the outcome of such business activity.

They monitor the activity in the market and see how actual sales meet or contradict established business models.

These models will usually have been designed by the managers and they will be responsible for making alterations if necessary.

Business development managers are also responsible for attracting new customers, many of whom may not have been targeted by the business before.

In order to attract as many new customers as possible, the managers will create and subsequently deliver impressive presentations and will also take part in negotiations with potential clients.

As with many senior positions in large companies, the role of business development manager is particularly popular with men.

However, women should not be put off applying to become a business development manager, since they are just as likely to possess both the academic capability and the necessary interpersonal skills.


The typical tasks undertaken by a business development manager include:

  • Keeping up to date with economic and business developments throughout the working day
  • Keeping up to date with overall business trends
  • Performing research into the market, customer trends, and competition in the market
  • Using quantitative and qualitative techniques to collect useful information
  • Deciding whether or not this research is useful and using it as necessary
  • Preparing detailed business plans which cover relevant goals and objectives
  • Looking after the company’s financial statements and allocating those resources as appropriate
  • Liaising with other professionals in the company and in other companies, including account managers
  • Networking with employees from other companies and potential customers
  • Attending workshops and trade fairs

Skills and Qualifications

There are no specific qualifications which need to be gained prior to applying for the position of business development manager.

However, most usually hold a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree, many of which are in relevant subjects including economics and business studies.

Good GSCE and A Level grades will be expected by all employers.

Business development managers will need to possess the following skills:

  • Good leadership skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Knowledge of how to set up and use a CRM like Hubspot and Salesforce
  • Good time management skills
  • Good business knowledge
  • Negotiation skills
  • Tact and diplomacy
  • Creativity
  • A good grasp of numbers and the ability to write documents in a professional style
  • Organisational skills
  • A hunger to stay up to date with economic matters
  • The ability to stay calm under pressure and meet tight deadlines
  • The ability to keep objectives and goals firmly in sight
  • The ability to remain flexible and seek alternative options to problems
  • Problem solving skills

No official experience is required prior to making an application to become a business development manager.

However, any previous experience in a managerial position will look good on a CV, as will general experience in sales, marketing, or accounting.

To stand out among other applicants, make sure to include your prior experience from the areas above in your resume objective and cover letter.

General knowledge of how a large business is run will help you in your position and work experience in one of numerous departments within an organization is a good idea for those interested in becoming a business development manager.

Related: How to Put Together the Most Relevant Skills for Resumes

Working Conditions

Business development managers work in an office environment, so working conditions are generally comfortable.

However, business development managers will frequently visit other offices and working environments in order to hold meetings and conduct research.

Furthermore, overseas travel is common in this position, since business development managers often need to test the waters in foreign markets.

The job can be stressful, since the position is a senior one within any company or organisation.

Individuals will often have to work to tight deadlines and will be held responsible for a company’s failure to grow successfully or quickly.

However, it is also an interesting job and most individuals find it very rewarding and stimulating.

Many business development managers work to a 9 to 5 timetable but overtime and weekend work may be necessary at busy times.

Business Development Manager Salary

Business development managers can expect to earn a healthy salary.

However, the precise salary provided to an individual will differ depending upon the type of business employing the individual, the location of the business, and the amount of experience held by the employee.

As a rough guide, those starting out as business development managers can expect to earn approximately $65,000-70,000 per year. After a few years in the role, this salary may rise by as much as $30,000.

Most business development managers who have worked in their current position for several years earn in the region mentioned above.

However, it is not uncommon for salaries to reach $120,000 or even higher.

Salaries paid to individuals working in large cities or at well-funded corporations or startups are likely to be higher than those for people working elsewhere.

Since many business development managers work for large businesses and organizations, additional benefits are likely such as the provision of a company car, health insurance and other healthcare, and gym membership.

Business Development Jobs and Career Progression

Any organisation or company can choose to employ a business development manager.

These may include:

  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Consultancy companies
  • Software companies
  • Telecommunications companies
  • Infrastructure companies

Many business development managers choose to specialise in one particular area after a few years in the position.

For example, they may choose to focus upon sales or marketing and manage these departments exclusively.

Alternatively, they may move into consultancy and focus upon providing advice to companies.

Other business development managers, who will have gained many useful skills, choose to set up their own businesses.

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What’s it Really Like?

Nigel has been working with ValueClick for three years.

Prior to taking up his position at ValueClick, Nigel worked for Infospace, another Internet company.

He has been working as a business development manager for eight years overall and before that he worked for BMW in a commercial marketing role.

During a typical day at work, Nigel makes plans and generally manages numerous areas of the company.

Overall, he spends much more time thinking and planning than acting.

Nigel believes that it is better to spend a whole day planning and just one hour implementing such plans, since you often get just one attempt at getting something right.

For this reason, all the bases need to be covered prior to action.

Nigel enjoys being able to choose what he wants to work on and being responsible for deciding which direction the company should take.

However, the downside of this is that when particular projects are going badly, it can be difficult to stay motivated and keep believing in a particular strategy.

Nigel believes though, that once you have made a plan, you need to follow it through and that business development managers should never give up on a plan unless they are completely sure that it will fail.

Another negative aspect to the job is that it can be lonely.

In the future, Nigel hopes to set up his own business in the Internet sector and the experience he has gained at ValueClick will be invaluable.

For individuals hoping to become business development managers, Nigel had some advice.

He believes that although it is not essential, potential business development managers should try to gain experience in sales.

Nigel spent three years selling copiers when he was younger and he believes that this provided him with invaluable experience.

He also believes that individuals should practise breaking down every task into small steps and developing small-scale plans for each of these steps.

Success in his position, according to Nigel, is not an option unless you have a clear and well-defined objective.

It is vital to have a purpose and a goal for each project, as well as a thorough understanding of what steps are needed to be successful.

It is also useful to be able to visualise success, since this will provide further motivation.

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