Business Development Specialist

How to Become a Business Development Specialist
Business Development Specialist Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of a Business Development Specialist
Business Development Specialist Salaries
Influential Professional Business Development Specialists
Leading Business Development Specialist Organizations
Top Cities for Business Development Specialist Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Business Development Specialist

There appears to be no one education or credentialing job qualification to become a business development specialist. Because the job has much to do with generating new opportunities for a business, a lot depends on how successful a business developer has been in the past - one's track record and new business brought in speaks for itself. Business developments specialists have educational backgrounds that span the gambit, from formal marketing and business degrees to finance/accounting to science to liberal arts. It could be said that more so than a formal education would be the value of one's network and who a business developer knows that counts when it comes to landing job opportunities. Business development specialist often have dynamic backgrounds that sometimes span a number of industries over the years. Business development specialists at larger companies tend to be well seasoned, well connected individuals with an already established presence in the marketplace.

What does a Business Development Specialist do?

The traditional terms for this role are sales and sometimes marketing. A business development specialist is responsible for generating new leads for a company and helping with the new client/customer pursuit process. This is essentially a sales job and sometimes involves working with contact databases, cold calling, networking, organizing and putting on events, attending tradeshows, participating in networking organization leadership, marketing and PR work, etc. The idea is to be working strategically in the marketplace to be in the places where your target clients/customers are and to be visible to those clients/customers in a way that keeps the company top of mind. Business development specialists are sometimes not alone when going out to drum up new business. For example, in a professional services organization like a law or accounting firm, there are principals who also do business development. In those cases, the business development specialist is seen more as a spearhead rather than a lone ranger.

Business development specialists spend a lot of time out of the office, meeting with potential clients, attending events, networking, and being generally visible in the marketplace. They also usually have a particular geographic territory they're responsible for, whether it be a part of a big city or several states. It depends 100% on the type of company and products the business developer is trying to sell that determine such things as who the decision makers are at corporate clients, how long it normally takes from first contact to new client/customer (sales cycle), what communication techniques work best with what types of people, etc.

Business development is oftentimes differentiated from marketing, because marketing focuses more on brand awareness, research, competitive and marketplace analysis and campaign management. Marketing is more focused on spreading the word about a company in a general way while business development specialists' main goal is to get a new client or customer to "sign on the dotted line." In companies where there are separate departments for business development and marketing, the two often must work together to some degree.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Business Development Specialist?

People skills are paramount in this position, as are general language and communication skills. And when it comes to communication skills, it's not just about good grammar or appropriate document headers, but truly about understanding the psychology of people and determining what would be most persuasive, rapport-building and trust engendering.

An ability to read people and determine what appropriate conversation, communication, timing, etc. is also important. Although business development can be done in a fairly low-tech environment, this is not the norm, so familiarity with certain database technology tools (e.g. Contact Relationship Management or CRM systems) and communications tools are a growing requirement.

Business developers must also be highly disciplined and take care of their personal appearance to the degree that they are always ready to make a good impression. Many business development specialists are physically fit, partially because it is a stressful job and exercise is a good stress reliever, partially because it coincides nicely with the well-groomed, well cared for appearance they maintain, and partially because out-of-work interests are a good conversation starter and point of connection with people.

How much do Business Development Specialists make?

This is nearly impossible to report on. Business development specialists often have contracts with their employers, but each arrangement between employee and employer can be dramatically different. Some business development specialists receive a base pay plus commission, some only receive commission. Commission could be received per new client/customer, or it may only be received for certain types of new clients/customers. Commission can be recurring if the client/customer continues to buy products from a company, or it can be a one-time deal. It would be safe to say, however, that among salaries, sales folk and business development specialists do tend to make the highest wages, which is a trend that started to shift some years ago, from where top executives were always at the top of the list.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Although not a business development specialist, Bill Gates is one of the most famous and influential professionals in the field of business; building the extremely successful business of Microsoft after famously dropping out of Harvard.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

Business development is not necessarily a "field" but a role and an action. As such, there aren't any specifically business development professional organizations, or if they do exist, they are usually linked to a specific type of company or industry and geographically limited.

What are the top cities for Business Development Specialist jobs?

The top city for business development specialists is New York City, with Chicago coming in second. Houston, Texas is in third place in the United States.

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