Business Development Manager Skills (And Primary Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The role of a business development manager is to identify new business opportunities, evaluate a company's performance, pinpoint areas for improvement and communicate with the management team. A business development manager has multiple responsibilities and their performance directly impacts the success of a business. You may require a specific set of skills to excel in this role. In this article, we examine some prominent business development manager skills and the responsibilities associated with the job.

What are some important business development manager skills?

Business development manager skills include competencies in sales, marketing, project management, negotiation and data analysis. Each of these skills contributes to a business development manager's success in achieving their professional goals. A business development manager's role is largely goal-oriented and is commission-driven. They may work for organisations and institutions in domains like software, hardware, construction, healthcare, financial services, e-commerce, staffing, education, real estate and infrastructure. Since their role is crucial in generating revenue, employers and business owners look for relevant soft and hard skills while commissioning them.

If you're keen on becoming a business development manager, consider developing these skills:

Sales competency

One of the key responsibilities of a business development manager is to identify growth opportunities and follow up on them. To do this, they build relationships with potential partners or prospects. They do this by cold calling, pursuing a lead persistently and setting up personal meetings to sell the idea of a new partnership. Essentially, they aim to identify solid leads that can be converted to customers. They also require additional sales skills like lead generation, prospecting, familiarity with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms and the ability to nurture long-term relationships with clients.

Communication skills

Communication skills and active listening skills are very crucial for a business development manager. They work in very competitive environments and may pursue very aggressive targets. Good command over a language, excellent verbal and written communication skills and presentation capabilities are vital to convince a potential client. Their language may be tactful and may come across to clients as confident.

A business development manager consistently follows up on their clients through emails and phone calls or sets up periodic meetings. They benefit from developing the ability to speak and write without sounding bothersome or aggressive. They periodically engage with clients, address their queries and concerns and provide clarifications and assurance. Since clients may deal with multiple business development managers at a time, good written and verbal communications skills can give you an edge over other competitors.

Related: How to Use Effective Communication In The Workplace

Marketing skills

A business development manager's role may align with the functions of the marketing department in some companies. While both these roles build professional relationships, they also promote their brand and its products or services. Gaining awareness and knowledge of new market trends, identifying new prospects, understanding competition and educating potential customers is an important part of their job. Though these are typical marketing skills, a business development manager may require the same set of skills to be successful.

Business intelligence

Business development managers constantly perform market research to gather information on the specific needs of their target market and customer base. They collect and analyse data like the size of a potential market, potential client details and sort and prioritise them to generate leads for a sales staff. They analyse marketing trends and the performance of various campaigns, master the most effective campaign tools and use them for the benefit of their clients.

Project management skills

Business development managers work like project managers. A project manager plans, manages and completes a project within a specified budget and timeline. Similarly, a business development manager may consider the entire process of converting a lead into a client as one project. They may work for multiple clients or companies, and engage with several projects simultaneously. While managing business development workflows, they may interact with and manage the work of different kinds of professionals, like analysts, finance managers and sales and marketing executives.

For example, a business development manager may pursue multiple leads simultaneously, with the help of sales executives, within a timeframe stipulated by the management or senior stakeholders of a company. Highly developed project management skills can benefit them greatly as they may routinely manage a team of business development executives who do the groundwork, conduct market research, gather client data and help them in estimating budgets and operational costs. Setting goals and targets, working out costs, allocating budgets, assessing risks and determining project deadlines are some project management functions that a business development manager engages in.

Organisational skills

A business development manager may manage multiple clients at different stages of the lead-to-client conversion process. They may meet and give presentations and pitches to many potential customers in a day. They may also coordinate with a team of professionals to ensure that a project progresses according to schedule. Being late or missing a meeting can put them at a disadvantage professionally. Hence, being thorough in their job and keeping their workspaces and computer files organised is an essential skill for a business development manager.

Technical skills

It's quite common for companies to digitise their sales and business development functions. A business development team may use CRM software to document different aspects of their work. Apart from the computer literacy for creating business presentations, knowledge on how to use a CRM may benefit a business development manager greatly. A CRM is useful to digitise leads, track progress, create sales funnels, schedule meetings and create follow-up procedures. In addition to CRM software, a business development manager may also benefit from having a working knowledge of spreadsheets and data visualisation tools.

Related: Technical Skills: Definitions And Examples

Self-motivation

The role of a business development team is a challenging one as they work towards achieving large targets, meeting tight deadlines and often face a lot of competition professionally. Though good compensation and commissions are motivational factors, there might be dull periods with limited conversions where clients drop out before signing a contract. Business development managers and executives may spend years on a project before they start seeing tangible results of their work. A key skill for a business development manager is the ability to be persistent despite setbacks, for reworking strategies and creating innovative solutions.

What does a business development manager do?

The prime responsibility of a business development manager is to build a pipeline of new and potential clients for the organisation. They may assist an organisation with expanding the scale of its operations or relocating to a different geographic location. Business development managers typically maintain a robust network of professionals working in business development, sales and human resources. This allows them to gain useful information regarding consumer demographics, competitor performance and market trends, including sales projections.

A big portion of a business development manager's work is to prepare presentations for their clients. They may meet a client multiple times before they get a final response. If a customer declines their proposal, they analyse the reason and work out better pricing options or sales strategies. A business development manager typically responds to a sales director, marketing director or the CEO of a company. They prepare periodic reports of the team's performance, targets achieved, sales performance and trend forecasts. The typical responsibilities of a business development manager are:

  • discussing with the management to set goals and targets

  • developing plans to achieve targets and create revenue growth

  • setting targets for each business development executive

  • identifying target markets

  • researching prospective clients in the target market

  • developing lead generation activities

  • pursuing leads and working on converting them into clients

  • preparing multiple presentation templates and editing them to suit specific client requirements

  • discussing with the sales team to prepare quotes for potential clients

  • conducting daily stand-up meetings to assess workflows and scheduled tasks

  • conducting weekly meetings to evaluate a team's performance

  • planning and conducting in-house and external training sessions for team members

  • attending conferences and seminars to build a professional network

Read more: What Does A Business Development Manager Do? (With Salary)

Who employs a business development manager?

Small, medium and large companies employ business development managers to support their business growth. These professionals typically possess a few years of experience working in marketing and sales. Companies employ them to increase the size of their client base and also explore the possibility of enriching existing customer relations. They may work in a variety of domains, including:

  • construction

  • consultancy

  • cybersecurity

  • digital marketing

  • e-commerce

  • financial services

  • healthcare

  • software development

  • hardware development

  • human resources

  • research and development

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