For most companies looking to expand, the first positions they fill tend to be in the Business Development team. That has to do with the very fact that business developers are responsible for a company’s growth, this includes increasing revenues, overseeing the business expansion, increasing profitability by building strategic partnerships, and making strategic business decisions.
Companies across all stages and industries invest heavily in building a Business Development team with top-notch talents who have the drive and specific skills to propel their businesses forward.
What does the Business Development team do?
A common misconception is that business development is just a fancier term for sales, but sales are really only a small component of what falls into this category. In a nutshell, business developers are always thinking about how best to position the company for maximum growth.
Here’s a look at the typical tasks of most business developers:
- Analyze the current state of the business and subsequently, growth opportunities
- Establish and track long term business objectives, strategic goals, and key performance indicators
- Align with Sales, Marketing, and IT departments to increase market presence and improve services
- Optimize internal business operations
- Pursue strategic partnerships to increase market share; identify new markets or maintain existing business relationships
- Pitch to prospective clients and key stakeholders
- Network to build more business connections and increase the visibility of the company
Jobs within Business Development
Business Development is a broad field, and entry-level positions usually fall into one of the three areas below. Smaller companies tend to combine different roles into a single role.
1. Business Development Manager
The most strategic out of the roles in business development, their job is to source for ways in which the company can increase its revenues. This is achieved by exploring potential markets and devising strategies for expansion in current and new markets. A strategic approach is necessary as they have to account for the needs of the entire company, which might include analyzing business opportunities, preparing presentations for different departments, and also managing negotiations.
2. Sales Manager/Representative
The core of the sales team’s duties is to drive top-line growth, meaning bringing in new customers and thereby generating revenues for the company. Often referred to as the “face of the company,” sales managers are responsible for explaining the product, handling client inquiries, and drafting contracts, through all different communications channels. Sales Managers need to be extremely persistent, meaning they don’t take a “no” for an answer. Moreover, they need to enjoy communicating, as well as negotiating and closing deals.
3. Account Manager/Representative
While account management and sales have some overlaps, the distinguishing element between the two would be that the account management team continues to sell their products and build a relationship with existing clients. Once the sales team closes a deal, they hand off the clients to the account management team to grow their accounts by upselling and cross-selling products and services, extending or renewing contracts or providing advice to customers.
How To Get Into Business Development
The obvious path to a sought-after business development role would be studying a business-related field such as Business Administration, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, or Management. However, as most skills in business development can be learned on the job, this career path is also a good option for individuals who have completely different backgrounds. A couple of business development internships under your belt will, of course, increase your chances of getting the first interview. For more experienced people looking to transition into Business Development, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) that teaches you the basics of business is also a good option.
Quintessential personality traits of the most successful business developers are their stellar interpersonal skills, which helps them build rapport with anyone they come into contact with - be it prospective partners, stakeholders, or team members in different departments. A creative go-getter who seeks opportunities and finds solutions in the most unlikely of places, and is in tune with industry trends will be able to capitalize on their knowledge to help their company move forward.
Salaries for fresh-graduates in Berlin start at around 38.000€. If you’ve already gained a couple of years of work experience, you can expect around 48.000€. Within business development, the way salaries are structured will largely depend on the role. If a position is more customer-facing, such as the one of a Sales and Account Manager, a more substantial proportion of the salary will be performance-based, meaning a commission on deals that you bring in. A common misconception is that sales roles don’t have good perspectives: A high-performing head of Sales can make up to 250.000€.