The Ultimate Guide to Business Development Career (And Why There’s So Much Hype About It)

Imagine. If you had enough savings and were given a choice of quitting your day job, what would you do? If your plan is to take an entrepreneurial route and grow your own business, then you should be in a business development role at least for the first 3-5 years of your career. 

Business development is one of the most valuable skills now and in the future. Some say this job is the lifeblood of a great company. Even though its title is pretty much clear, people still often ask you: “So, what do you do? Sales?”.

Business Development Vs. Sales

Business Development (or popularly we called it as “BD”) is indeed within the sales department. If you’re in the right seat, your business development role will be a mix of partnership and customer engagement. In short, your objective won’t be revenue generation. You’ll identify the market, increase brand awareness by pitching the products and services, and seek out new opportunities to grow the business. 

On the contrary, the objective of sales role is to generate revenue. They will sell products & services to customers and closing the deals. As a BD you open the door to the opportunity, and sales will be the one who makes money for the business — out of that opportunity. 

What does business development professionals do on a daily basis?

The day-to-day business development professionals vary depending on their seniority and size also the strategy of the company. Usually, in small or private-held business, the role will intersect with other responsibilities. However, both research+lead generation is still the solid foundation of the role. The more skilled you are at sourcing on the web and scrapping leads, the close you are to achieve your objective. 

It’s true — it won’t be easy as you may compete with thousands (even more) people for the same market. But it helps you grow better. 

Networking is the most important key to a successful business development career

As I’ve said earlier, the business development role is all about opening the door the new opportunities and build relationships. Therefore, you should seriously improve your networking skills. 

Forbes Contributor Scott Pollack (2012), said: “Relationships with partners, customers, employees, the press, etc are all critical to the success of any business development effort and as such, they demand a bold-faced spot in any comprehensive definition of the term”.

Your networking skills will help you get more and more qualified leads over time. Depending on the budget of the company, there will be a number of opportunities for you to attend exciting and not-so-exciting events. Yet, you need to be strategic about your networking endeavors. Your main goal of networking is always to introduce first and increase brand awareness, not direct-selling.

Always remember, you never walk alone

Think your role is the coolest of all? Think again. 

It’s true — you will often act as the navy captain and take care of everything on the front line. But, don’t be selfish. This is not only about “you” and “your idea” — business development is a team effort. It’s a team game. Your job is to increase growth and sales for the company. And to do that, you need a strong support system in place.

As a business development professional, you’ll work with departments that would be impacted by the implementation of your strategy including sales, marketing, data analyst, IT, or even engineering. This means you will be exposed to new ideas and perspectives to increase the chance of that Eureka moment.

Business development is highly valuable skills and a crucial part of any great company. It will teach you to always think of the best ways to boost revenue, identify your ideal prospects in your target market, and generate qualify leads. Whether you’re interested to have a career in startups, SMEs or high-growth companies, there’s a place for you.

Though typically Bachelor’s degrees in business management, accounting, or a related field is necessary, you can use any sales or marketing experience (including your internships) to get into the field of business development. Give it a go?

Are you currently in business development? Or maybe thinking of switching to a BD career? Share with me your experiences on the comment below! 

P.s. This post originally appeared on the Glints Singapore website (as a basic guide for BD career) and has been updated here for comprehensiveness.

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