How to become a Business Development Manager

Qualified Business Development Manager
Philosophers have always shared the thought that there’s no standing still: you’re either moving forwards or backwards. In today’s fast-paced and technology-driven global environment, that’s truer than ever before. It’s a philosophy that applies even more so to business. Unless a business is innovating, researching, planning and investing in the future, it’s going nowhere.
Unless a business is innovating, researching, planning and investing in the future, it’s going nowhere. Click To Tweet

What is a BDM?

A Business Development Manager (BDM) is at the forefront of addressing the challenge of growth in an organisation. Their role is to understand a business’ operational capabilities and then plot and implement a strategic path one, five, or even ten years forward. That’s only possible by identifying and creating strategic opportunities to ensure growth and facilitate innovation.
A business without a plan will go backwards, along with its’ workforce. Those charged with the responsibility of getting business development right are well regarded and well rewarded.

So what skills does a Business Development Manager need?

What does a Business Development Manager do?

A Business Development Manager is often the ‘front of house’ presence for potential clients. The BDM takes charge of developing sales in unexplored areas while also responding to ‘business as usual’ (BAU) opportunities in areas like requests for proposals or responding to tender opportunities.

Essentially, a BDM creates sales leads and establishes relationships with potential clients while planning marketing initiatives to attract them and increasing the value of relationships with existing customers. The role is customer-focused, involving attendance at conferences and industry events while nurturing contacts and listening to what customers want. A BDM is the ‘eyes and ears’ of a business, armed with a strategic plan and an understanding of customer needs in terms of services or products.

A successful BDM will also think ‘outside the square’ about how they operate. They actively seek customer feedback to inform the way they ‘pitch’ business in the future. They will also encourage customer testimonials, either written or video, to promote engagement with other potential customers further. In other words, they’ll use the effectiveness of previous contacts or campaigns to improve the likelihood of success in their next campaign.

TIP: Repurposing content is a smart, authentic and effective way to manage resources as a Business Development Manager. Click To Tweet

What skills help create a great Business Development Manager?

Developing businesses requires thinking creatively about tactics. That process begins with identifying prospective customers to create effective brand awareness initiatives. Therefore, marketing plays a crucial role in this space.

The know-how to create marketing collateral that shows how your business works and what products or services it provides are an added advantage.
Creating and maintaining a relevant suite of marketing products (i.e., blogs, social media content, short videos, etc.) is a valuable tool for maintaining connections and communicating product updates.

Website content explaining your products or services must be kept fresh, accurate and relevant, given it’s often the first point of contact for any potential and many existing clients.

Thinking creatively about your networking is also important. Once upon a time, networking might have started with a cold call, but today that is not as effective as it used to be. These days, creating and developing contacts on professional platforms such as LinkedIn can be far more authentic and productive.

COVID-19 has made face-to-face meetings difficult, but there’s no substitute for the personal touch when meeting prospective clients. Soft skills like communication are key in this space, and natural leaders and relationship-builders will excel.

In short, a good Business Development Manager anticipates the questions that may be asked and provides the answers ahead of time in a proactive and engaging way.

BDM on zoom call to stakeholders

What are the career paths for a Business Development Manager?

An astute company with the resources at its’ disposal is well advised to invest in building a business development team.

A Business Development Representative (BDR) is an entry-level way to understand the role of a BDM. A BDR learns to identify business leads via direct contact with potential customers or even by handling complaints. They take action to understand what problems might need to be addressed at a grassroots level before they become more significant issues.

Contacting prospective customers and booking sales appointments is a common second step, while BDR’s frequently ‘spin off’ into other areas such as marketing or customer service. These skills help to round out their understanding of the business while generating leads and learning more about the process.
Along the way, they learn skills like time management and how to prioritise workflows. Successful and ambitious Business Development Managers often progress to managing individual customers rather than remaining part of the team generating and funnelling new leads.

What can a Business Development Manager earn?

As with most occupations, Business Development Managers are compensated based upon a combination of experience and talent. A typical salary in Australia starts at around $136,000 can go to $181,000 or higher, with the average sitting at about $159,000 (payscale).

What’s the first step on a Business Development career path?

Getting qualified with an online Business Development Diploma course will ensure you have the practical skills to move into Business Development, or get ahead in your current BD career. Which course you should take depends on your aspirations and where you see your career going.

BDMs as leaders in the business

The College for Adult Learning’s Double Diploma of Business (Business Development) (BSB50120) + Leadership & Management (BSB50420) is designed for strategic leaders, equipping graduates with key relationship-building and leadership skills. This course is perfect for those that want to lead from the front and develop the know-how to inspire their business to grow with them.

BDMs as drivers of growth in the business

The Double Diploma of Business (Business Development) (BSB50120) + Marketing and Communication (BSB50620) is designed for BDMs with a view to home in on and relationships that facilitate growth and create a brand presence that aligns with business objectives. Understanding marketing is a critical component of any BDM’s core responsibilities, and this course helps develop skills around exploring and evaluating marketing opportunities while also teaching how to develop and implement business resource plans and assess their effectiveness.