What are Business Development Skills?

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It’s fair to say that any business that can turn a profit and pay its way is a success.  Nevertheless, the market is a fickle thing and there are few certainties in business.  Any company or organisation must constantly develop itself in order to remain relevant to its industry, as a failure to keep pace with changes in demand is a certain way for a company to slide into irrelevance, if not bankruptcy.

A Business Development skillset is primarily concerned with the skills needed to build the business over time.  Typically, this involves finding new potential customers, analytically looking for potential niches for the company to expand into with new offerings, and building relationships with key people at other companies to provide future opportunities for the company.

A Multi-Disciplined Role

While a Business Developer may have that as the title on their business card, good ones typically have experience and understanding in several other departments within the company.  To succeed they need to have an appreciation of the entire life cycle of whatever it is they’re selling.  It’s no good coming up with ideas if it’s obvious they’re too expensive to implement or if there are no likely candidates to buy them after all.

Some fields of experience that business developers draw from include:

  • Sales: An obvious appreciation for how the product will be sold
  • MarketingHow can the product be promoted?  What need will it fulfil? 
  • FinanceHow much will this cost?  How much will it make?
  • Legal:  What are the legal obstacles and costs to execute the plan?
  • Strategic Management:  How does this impact the goals and plans of the business overall?

What Business Developers Do

Much of a Business Developer's time is spent in research as they explore potential opportunities for the business to grow in.  As a result, a sound understanding of the business is required, along with good analytical skills and the ability to write concise and clear reports for the decision makers in the company. 

Generally, business developers can have a significant amount of influence in the company.  As the individuals reaching out into the world to source new markets, they are often the first point of contact with other companies and individuals and thus will also need social skills in order to lay a solid foundation for a business relationship. 

A good business developer needs many of the same skills as an Entrepreneur.  Indeed, many business developers come from an Entrepreneurial background, lending their skill and experiences in starting and running a business of their own to their new organisation.   While many of the skills for a Business Developer can be trained, a nose for business and a knack for finding opportunity remains a core essential talent to excelling at this role.

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