Working in the business world is an exciting prospect. As a business development manager, you will take a strategic approach, have big ambitions and have a strong understanding of how well a new business can do on the market.
Business development managers are big dreamers, strive for success and enjoy the process of collaborating with others to aid a business’ growth.
What is a business development manager?
A business development manager is a key player in the process of the improvement and growth of a business. Your focus is to identify new business opportunities to generate revenue and improve profitability.
It’s a strategic role, carefully planning and positioning potential businesses in appropriate markets or working on the businesses’ operation to improve it in the long run. As a manager, you may also collaborate as a leader in a team or work individually.
Business development managers work on building relationships with partners, customers, suppliers and colleagues in an organisation. It’s a sociable role with a significant focus on making connections to build a wider network.
You can also work within all types of business in this role and may wish to specialise in a specific sector. Businesses either work on a B2B (business to business) or B2C basis (business to customer), and you can also specify which you would choose to work in.
In a strategic and collaborative role, a business development manager is crucial to a business’s growth.
You can study at college and gain a relevant business qualifications.
These are the responsibilities:
- Research and identity new business opportunities - from trends, partnerships, and new markets to products and services, as well as new ways to reach existing markets.
- Research the most appropriate contact in an organisation.
- Set up meetings with customers or clients either face to face or virtually.
- Work on generating leads through cold calling prospective customers.
- Create and develop relationships with clients and customers.
- Take a strategic approach and look at the bigger picture by setting objectives to develop and improve businesses.
- Carry out planning to implement operational changes.
- Research what a client needs and create plan proposals and pricing to match it.
- Create client contracts for business development projects.
- Work with others to ensure they’re on board throughout the organisation and understand what’s needed of them.
- Train team members and organise external training.
- Collaborate with logistic departments, the warehousing and finance team.
- Keep up to date with relevant business news.
- Create reports and present them to senior management and customers.
- Attend appropriate events, seminars and conferences.
- Collaborate with the marketing department and discuss the promotional strategy.
- Have a strong understanding of the businesses products or services and share that knowledge with others.
- Identify opportunities to improve the way the business operates.
- Forecast sale targets and ensures they’re met.
The business manager's salary can vary based on experience, regional vacancies and sector. Many business managers can also receive a commission as part of or added to their salary. The average business development manager's salary in the UK is around the £40,000 mark. Entry-level salaries can range between £22,000-£32,000 and more senior positions can earn anywhere between £52,000-£73,000+.
In London, salaries are a lot higher than the standard UK average for a business development manager. The average London salary can be as high as £93,000, whilst the entry-level salary starts at £64,000. With around 8 years of experience, you can earn up to an average of £115,000+.
A business development manager is not a graduate role, as there are many other routes to work your way up. As it is competitive, many entrants have a degree to develop their learning and help if they were to apply for a graduate training scheme.
Degrees in business management are the most useful. However, other subjects including business studies degrees, finance degrees, economics degrees, marketing degrees and international relations degrees can come in handy.
You can study at college and gain a relevant business qualifications. There are plenty of business development courses in either sales or business which can be useful in this career. For example, the Level 3 Award in Business Development Skills and the Level 3 Certificate in Sales and Account Management.
Training and development
Business development covers numerous sectors and can be a varied role, which means, the opportunities for training and development are endless.
Training is typically done on the job by your employer and the organisation you work for. Although, there are several relevant courses you can apply for either individually or through your organisation such as level 2 and level 3 courses for sales management, business principles and sales and marketing.
To work and study, an apprenticeship is an option for this career. Apprenticeships will help you gain hands-on skills and understand how the role itself works and progresses.
For more information about the relevant business, management and leadership qualifications, The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) is a great resource to help you find the right courses. Other professional bodies including the Institute of Sales Management (ISM) and The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) offer memberships which provide networking opportunities, career guidance and support.
As a manager and key player in the progression of many businesses, there are numerous useful skills.
These are the required skills:
- The ambition in seeking new business opportunities and exceed targets.
- Excellent communication skills, especially for developing relationships with clients.
- Strong written, verbal and presentation skills to collaborate with others internally and externally.
- Friendly telephone manner to build a strong initial connection.
- Effective computer skills and using various software.
- Great with working in a team and keen to work collaboratively.
- Have a strategic approach to work.
- Strong skills in project management, organisation, leadership and business management.
- Great at decision-making and using your initiative.
- A strong desire to succeed in the world of business.
- The ability to manage your workload and multi-task.
- Self-motivated and able to set your own goals.
- The ability to negotiate, persuade and sell easily.
- Have a flexible and adaptable approach to work.
- The ability to write reports and analyse statistics.
- Confidence in yourself and goals.
To work and study, an apprenticeship is an option for this career. Apprenticeships will help you gain hands-on skills and understand how the role itself works and progresses. There are many apprenticeships such as business-to-business sales professional degree apprenticeship and retail leadership degree apprenticeship.
Many business development managers work their way up by gaining sales or marketing experience and undertaking work-based training. If you are already in a similar role such as sales manager, account manager or sales executive, you can move up the ranks from there.
Employers generally expect you to have some experience within the industry before applying to the role. This could be work experience in sales, marketing or business management. You can do this through business development internships and work experience placements to learn hands-on skills and see how the role works day-to-day. Contact local businesses to ask if they have any of these relevant work placements or internships. If you are doing a degree, many of them will include you taking a year out and spending it in the industry.
A business development manager is a key player in the process of the improvement and growth of a business.
By gaining specific experience as a business development intern and through work placements, you are showing future employers you are committed to a career in business development.
Progression as a business development manager is based on your drive and goals and there’s no specific structure to moving up the ranks.
As business management is covered across most sectors, the possibilities for growth are endless for business manager jobs. You could specialise in a particular sector such as IT or a particular area including marketing.
There’s also the progression to becoming a senior business development manager which gives you more responsibility, such as leading a larger team or department. Alternatively, you can become a regional business manager. With more experience, you can even reach the business director status of an organisation.
Business development jobs are also possible overseas for an international company and offer the opportunity to travel whilst you work. You could potentially then apply for a permanent overseas position.
To head down the self-employed route, you could move into consultancy or set up your business development consultancy company.