The Plain English Guide to Becoming a Business Development Manager

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Meredith Hart
Meredith Hart


Do you have excellent communication skills? Are you a quick learner who enjoys gaining new business knowledge? If so, a career as a business development manager (BDM) could be a fantastic fit for you.

Business Development Manager explaining to a candidate how to become a BDM

Business development management allows you to flex your relationship-building and problem-solving skills. In this post, we'll discuss the role and the responsibilities that come with it, and give you the steps you need to take to become one.

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What is a business development manager?

A business development manager generates leads, develops new opportunities, and helps the company grow through strategic planning.

Business development managers are essential to sales orgs — as they're responsible for generating and protecting new revenue. They nurture relationships with key clients, develop new relationships, and expand the brand's presence.

So how do they do it?

what does a business development manager do

Here are the core responsibilities of business development managers, plus the skills they need to succeed.

Business Development Manager Responsibilities

  • Research prospective customers in the BDM's target market.
  • Use prospecting and qualifying strategies to reach out to new leads.
  • Maintain relationships with current customers.
  • Reach out to existing customers and clients for new leads.
  • Understand the company's product offerings, competitors in the industry, and position in the market.
  • Work closely with the sales team to ensure the BDM creates a high-quality prospect-to-customer pipeline.

roles of a business development manager

Business Development Manager Skills

What does it take to succeed as a business development manager? These are the recommended skills a BDM should have to excel in their role.

  • Self-motivation: A BDM should be driven, disciplined, and able to work and hit their targets with limited supervision.
  • Organizational skills: Business development managers should be able to manage their time and prioritize important tasks.
  • Communication skills: BDMs should handle themselves professionally with prospects, customers, and colleagues. And they should have the ability to develop relationships.
  • Technical skills: Experience entering data and using a CRM database helps BDMs track and manage their prospects. Specialized knowledge of their company's software ,tools, and target customers is especially valuable.

Business Development Manager Salary

According to Indeed, business development managers make an average of $73,969 annually. However, this can vary depending on the individual's experience and where they choose to work.

Additionally, the average salary can vary depending on industry as well. When you search on Glassdoor for average wages, you can filter by industry.

Suppose the company's compensation plan includes a commission or offers employees a percentage of monthly sales. In that case, the base salary might be lower than the expected average for a business development manager.

1. Get business credentials.

While a business development manager role generally has no formal requirements, many employers seek candidates with bachelor's degrees in sales,marketing, business administration, or entrepreneurship.

Depending on your seniority level, you might even earn a master's degree — especially if you plan to join the upper management of a company's business development team.

2. Gain relevant experience.

This experience can come from a previous job or internship experience. If you're looking for an entry-level business development manager role, previous work in this specific role might be recommended but optional.

Prior experience in sales, marketing, technology, or customer-facing roles are often acceptable — as those positions tend to require communication, negotiating, and rapport-building skills.

Experience as an entrepreneur can also be desirable because it gives you perspective on the ins and outs of running a business. This will help you relate to prospects as you identify their business challenges and look for solutions.

3. Develop your technical skills.

If you're interested in becoming a business development manager, technical know-how is a must. In-depth knowledge of software your company and prospects use (like CRM databases, communication and collaboration software, or marketing automation platforms) will be helpful. This is especially true if you plan to work for a SaaS company.

4. Create a compelling resume.

When you're ready to apply, create a resume highlighting the essential skills you've learned. If you need some resume inspiration, here are a few examples of business development manager resume templates you can use to write your own.

5. Start your job hunt.

You can find business development manager jobs by using social media like LinkedIn, or searching online job boards. You can also attend sales networking events in your area or digitally to further your chances of finding a company or startup looking to hire you.

Begin Your Career as a Business Development Manager

Put your strategic skills and business knowledge to work as a business development manager. Not only will you learn and grow, but you'll also help your company grow better.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.


Topics: Sales Jobs

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