Business development is an area that requires a distinct skill set. Many people may believe that the skills required for business development are the same as those needed for a sales position, but this oversimplifies the issue. Business development can be a challenging position, and people who want to work in the field need to understand its basic principles. Jeffrey Cohen of Cohen Management Group explains the nine skills required for a business development manager.
1. Interpersonal Skills
In an area that is shared by sales, business developers need to have strong interpersonal and communication skills. They must be able to speak to stakeholders, assert themselves, present their information, communicate effectively, and coordinate their activities with the rest of the company. They must also be prepared to cold call new prospects.
2. Ability to Collaborate
Business development professionals must be ready and willing to cooperate with their coworkers to achieve the best possible result. Business developers need to be able to make relationships with coworkers, representatives of the prospective contact, and any other clients.
Business developers need to be experts in managing conflicts. They need to be able to deal with any sort of problems that might arise when two companies begin working together. To draw in more business for their company, they may need to coordinate efforts with other departments. Having a diplomatic mindset is a must.
3. Negotiation Skills
A business developer needs to be tactful, friendly, and easy to get along with. Having a prickly or combative personality will only get in their way when it comes to making deals. This skill does overlap with sales, but the kind of negotiation needed for business development differs from the kind needed for sales.
For example, a business developer may need to negotiate how much a company will be paid for their services. Business developers may also need to negotiate about the numbers of personnel that will be sent to work on the project.
4. Management Skills
Business developers need to be able to manage projects of varying sizes. They must be able to manage and plan projects, as well as setting goals, managing risks, calculating budgets, and the time required to get the job done. They should be able to handle leading a team to facilitate the transaction.
People skills are one of the largest parts of the business developer’s toolkit. When a business developer can deal with people, they will be much more successful in their work. They need to know how to leverage a team’s skills and talents to produce the best possible results.
Having difficulty managing and motivating a team will make life hard for the business developer. Frequently, business developers who are not good managers will cause problems in their companies.
5. Strategy and Research
Business developers also need to be capable of researching and analyzing their markets. They need to be able to keep tabs on other competitors as well as understanding general market trends. These functions can be performed by research personnel, but the business developer will need to understand their role to truly make the best of it.
6. Computer Ability
Long gone are the days when business developers did not need to use a computer to perform their daily tasks. They must be proficient with Microsoft Office or with any software packages used by their employers. They should not outsource all of this work to their assistants. They may also need to learn to use CRM software in the course of their work.
7. Business Knowledge
A business developer needs to know how companies work and what it takes to make them successful. Having a superficial understanding of the industry involved will make a business developer unprepared and may lead to the loss of a deal.
Good business development personnel can conduct market analysis to determine which companies make the most sense to do business with. They must also know how to collect the data they need to make these decisions.
8. A Forward-Thinking Mindset
Business developers should be looking at their work as a way to support the company far into the future. Thinking ahead to new and different functions the company may fulfill is one way to keep their minds in the future. They should also be good at spotting market trends that may change the business landscape in the future.
9. Listening Skills
In both sales and business development, inexperienced people will often make the mistake of assuming that a loud voice means that they will get the best results. Experienced business developers know that listening is just as critical as talking, if not even more so.
Building a long-term relationship with a company may mean sitting down with them and listening to their problems. They may then be able to meet the challenges of business development from a fresh perspective.
The Importance of Business Development
Business development is the key to success in many industries. When an experienced business developer works for a company, they will be able to create new opportunities and build strong relationships. Jeffrey Cohen believes strongly in the importance of interpersonal skills for business developers.