What Is Business Development and What Skills Are Needed?

If you’re thinking about a career in business and want to know what the job market is like, this blog post is for you. We talk about business development and explain what you need to know to start your career.

Business Development is a fairly new field that is becoming more common in the current economy. Business Development is the process of building strong relationships with customers and prospects to help increase the sales of the products and services to the target market. These business relationships are continually being developed and maintained to help lead to increased sales and profits, and are key to the continued success of your business.

The term “Business Development” is thrown around a lot in business circles, but it seems to mean different things to different people. It’s a good thing to know what it means and where it fits in the business world.

I had a discussion with the director of business development for a French logistics firm a few weeks ago. He was ecstatic since he had met his objective of obtaining 10 qualifying chances in just 5 months. Even better, he exceeded his goal by completing a transaction for €350,000.

The outcomes were startling. Even more remarkable, he achieved these achievements in a whole new field.

Despite this, he contacted me a few days later, concerned that he might lose his job.

The CEO, it turned out, was dissatisfied with the outcomes since just one transaction was completed. He had high expectations, and it didn’t matter whether the business development representative (BDR) achieved them.

This tale made me consider what company growth really entails, as well as how businesses view it.

So, what exactly is company development? What is its relationship with other departments?

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to:

What is the definition of business development?

The most precise definition of business development is a collection of activities and procedures aimed at developing and implementing sustainable and lucrative growth possibilities inside (and across) companies. Most businesses, however, use the word differently in reality, depending on what they require that position to accomplish for them.

In a SaaS scaleup, for example, Business Development typically entails a lot of cold outreach to prospective clients. Business Development at a large, global corporation, on the other hand, may do market research in preparation for a new market entrance or a new product line.

Regardless of their variations, business developers in all organizations have one objective in mind: to identify and execute new growth possibilities.


Business development is a collection of activities and procedures aimed at developing and implementing sustainable and lucrative growth possibilities inside (and across) companies.


“Growth opportunities” is the important word here. In most cases, “new possibilities” refers to more than just “new customers.” It also contains the following:

  • Finding new collaborators
  • Getting into new markets
  • New product development

But, in any case, how is this different from marketing? Although there seems to be a lot of overlap between company development and marketing at first sight, there are some significant distinctions.

What Is the Difference Between Business Development and Marketing?

It’s not always easy to tell the difference between business development and marketing, and it’s made much more difficult by the fact that business development may appear quite different from company to firm. Here’s the distinction: The primary goal of marketing is to acquire new leads and consumers. Building connections with companies in order to create new possibilities is what business development is all about.

But let’s go a bit further into this.

Promotional Activities

Your company’s marketing department is the one that interacts with customers. The main objective, as previously said, is to attract consumers. This may be accomplished in three ways:

  • Creating an Idea Customer Profile to identify your ideal customers (ICP)
  • Maintaining a consistent brand and using different platforms (website, social media, advertisements, etc.) to remain top of mind with your target consumers.
  • Customers are being educated about your company, goods, and services.

This is typically enough to get a prospect ready to purchase in many instances — especially with smaller B2C offers. They’ll either contact your sales staff or make a purchase on your website at that moment.

Marketing is just the initial step of the trip for everyone else, especially in B2B, and here is where business development comes in.

Activities for Business Development

Relationships are at the heart of business growth. The main aim is to establish strategic alliances and connections with other businesses in your target market.

This may include cultivating a connection with a lead founder in order to get them closer to a sale. It might also mean capitalizing on existing connections to create referrals and expand into new markets in various parts of the country.

What Skills Are Necessary For Business Development?

BDRs work with sales and marketing departments in general, assisting them in achieving their objectives. This requires a rare combination of marketing, communication, and sales abilities:

1. Ability to Market

While business development executives are focused on developing connections, they must also be able to promote their brand, gather in-depth market data, comprehend the competition, and discover and educate new target prospects. As a result, these company development activities and marketing activities have a lot in common.

2. Ability to Communicate

Strong communication and listening skills are required when calling prospects, building long-term relationships with strategic partners, listening to prospective clients’ problems, and providing important information with stakeholders. It’s difficult to succeed in company growth if you can’t speak effectively and clearly.

3. Ability to Sell

Prospecting, qualifying leads, maintaining connections with both prospective and current customers, and updating sales customer relationship management databases on all sales activity, including follow ups, are all abilities that BDRs often share with sales people. To move prospects through the sales process, BDRs usually collaborate closely with sales team members.

A good BDR is similar to a CEO, if you think about it. To win chances and remain ahead of the competition, BDRs must think fast and strategically. As BDRs, we must approach our job with an entrepreneurial and imaginative mindset.

We are, after all, the initial point of contact for prospective customers and partners. As a result, we’re the ideal individuals to collect market intelligence firsthand. That is why, when coupled with other teams — particularly the sales team, which is typically charged with taking over prospects — this role can be very effective.

So, let’s take a closer look at how sales and company growth are related.

Sales Development vs. Business Development: What’s the Difference?

What is the difference between sales and business development? As you would expect, there is often misunderstanding about how this position varies from sales roles since there is no agreed-upon description.

Business developers are often mistaken for sales representatives with a more prestigious position. The opposite could not be farther from the truth.

In reality, treating business development as if it were a member of the sales team may lead to misconceptions and dissatisfaction, particularly when it comes to revenue.


For example, management may believe that a new business development would complete agreements quickly. But, for a variety of reasons, this is an unreasonable expectation.

  • Business developers are mostly interested in fresh possibilities, which take longer to close.
  • Sales are not the same as business development. As a result, you shouldn’t expect your BDRs to complete transactions in a timely manner. (We’ll go back to this in a minute.)

This is only one example of when people may have unreasonable expectations. Let’s take a look at three ways Sales Development and Business Development vary – and how each adds to long-term sales.

1. Customer service representatives (CSRs) and business development representatives (BDRs) operate at various phases of the customer experience.

These two roles, in reality, deal with distinct aspects of the same client experience.

customer journey in marketing and business development

BDRs identify new leads, initiate a discussion with them, and then educate them about our solution at the top of the funnel. 

Sales reps and account executives work at the bottom of the funnel, converting quality leads into prospects and persuading them to purchase.

It’s like working on a production line. 


Business Developers are in charge of filling the pipeline. Sales representatives and account executives nurture the pipeline and complete transactions, resulting in income.


2. BDRs and SDRs have distinct responsibilities.

BDRs and SDRs do various kinds of duties since they operate at different phases of the sales funnel.

Did you know that just 28% of salespeople think marketing is their greatest lead source? This is where business development comes in to assist bridge the sales-marketing divide.

Cold leads are typically where Business Developers begin their discussions. As a result, they devote a significant amount of time to:

  • Participating in events
  • Using social media to connect
  • Taking on new projects
  • Marketing and sales operations must be coordinated with company growth initiatives.

Warm leads, or individuals who are already investigating a particular solution, are often approached by sales representatives. As a result, they devote their time to:

  • Making phone calls, demonstrations, or meetings
  • Prospective client consultation and problem-solving
  • Persuading prospective clients to select them

The most significant distinctions stem from their differing objectives. The goal of business development efforts is to identify and qualify new prospects. Understanding the requirements of the prospect and winning them over are more important than everything else in sales.


Business developers try out fresh and innovative lead generation techniques. To win over consumers, sales representatives use tried-and-true techniques.


3. BDRs and SDRs aren’t always on the same page when it comes to their goal.

However, they should!

Despite their differences, sales representatives and business developers follow the same sales process. This implies that in order to get quick results, the two teams must agree on one essential element: the ICP and buyer persona.

Business developers must know who their ideal target is in order to concentrate on leads that can be closed by the sales team. Similarly, sales representatives must rapidly determine if a lead is worth pursuing.

Surprisingly, not every company knows who they’re aiming for.

They may have a hazy notion of who they want to target. They haven’t sorted out the specifics since they haven’t developed an Ideal Customer Profile or Buyer Persona. And this has a direct effect on how sales and company development are conducted.

If business developers don’t know who they’re targeting, they’ll end up with a lot of leads that aren’t relevant. These leads will not convert into paying clients, causing your sales staff aggravation.

As a result, the business loses money!

In fact, companies who take the effort to figure out who their ideal consumers are are 68 percent more likely to succeed in sales.

Despite their differences, the close connection between business development and sales implies that the two must work together.

What are some ways that sales and business development may work together more effectively?

The aim of both business development and sales is to make the firm successful. However, the disparities between the two sides may occasionally prevent you from achieving this objective.

There are a number of things you can do to improve company development and sales cooperation. These pointers will help you improve your performance by ensuring that you reach your goal on a regular basis.

In fact, businesses who have integrated their sales and marketing teams behind clear business development objectives have seen a 36 percent boost in client retention.

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Sales Team Building Activities (with 50 Ideas)

Fortunately, there are four key things you can do to ensure a successful business development and sales relationship:

  • Define the sales and business development roles in detail.
  • Create a client profile that is perfect for you.
  • Organize alignment meetings on a regular basis.
  • Encourage openness and constant feedback.
  • Bonuses should be linked to team performance.

Let’s get started.

Define what BDRs and SDRs are and what they do.

From the outside, business developers and sales representatives may seem to be the same person. When it comes to responsibility, this may be confusing.

If your sales representatives don’t understand what your business developers are doing — or vice versa — you risk losing trust, or worse, having stages in the funnel slip through the gaps.

To give you an example, when I worked as a BDR for a SaaS business, I was solely responsible for sending the first emails before passing the lead to sales. My issue was that my AE assumed I would follow up on those leads.

As a consequence, no one followed up on the leads, and we lost a significant amount of money.

The Daily Stand-up is a popular solution to this issue. However, in my experience, it does not work. The meeting becomes regular, no one pays attention, and duties continue to be overlooked.

My business partner and I created a Standup 2.0 to assist address this issue.

  • Every day, we would create a to-do list.
  • The other had to check a job off the list as soon as one of us finished it.

This strategy has many advantages. Your group pays close attention to what each other is doing. You improve accountability, particularly if you have home-based sales and business development staff. And, as a driver, competition encourages everyone to perform their best job.

Here’s how to go about it:

Allow one company developer and one sales representative to collaborate on this daily activity. After one week, reorganize the teams and create new alliances. It’s both entertaining and effective.

business development tasks

Create a visual representation of your ideal client profiles.

Your business may lose a lot of money if you don’t have a well-defined buyer persona. It’s one of the reasons you’re not hitting your revenue goals while having a full pipeline.

If you haven’t already, do extensive user research and develop your ideal client profile. This study will provide information about your target audience that you may utilize for marketing, advertising, content development, and, of course, finding new customers.

But be cautious. It isn’t enough to do research. You must make it simple to use for everyone.

It won’t assist you if your file is in a hidden folder. Create persona cards instead, distribute them to your team, and post them on your walls.

Give your staff a chance to examine the facts right away and double-check if there’s any question.

business development activities

Organize alignment meetings on a regular basis.

The lack of response from AEs was one of the problems I encountered in my relationship with them. They would often refuse to process my leads because they deemed them to be of poor quality.

Finding good leads isn’t always simple, which is why you need to keep giving feedback to enhance your quality.

Figures on leads

Set up frequent meetings with BDRs and AEs to ensure that they are on the same page.

  • Examine several kinds of leads to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding what constitutes a good lead.
  • Get everyone on the same page about what success entails.
  • Develop a more focused lead generating strategy.

Your business developers will have a better understanding of what the firm requires, and your sales representatives will have a greater chance of completing transactions.

BDR and AE alignment

Create opportunities for people to share their experiences.

Attempting to perform someone else’s work is an eye-opening experience. That’s why “A Day in the Life,” a team-building exercise, is so effective.

The idea is that BDRs and AEs switch responsibilities once a month.

So I’d take over as my account executive, and the AE would take over as my replacement. The whole sales team would gather at the end of the day to discuss our experiences.

It was an excellent exercise since it allowed me to better understand my colleague’s problems and the effect of my business development efforts on them.

Organize a comparable event so that your team may get a better grasp of what it takes to succeed.

Part of the incentive should be linked to team performance.

Your team, I’m sure, already has a substantial bonus structure in place. However, if it is focused on individual performance, it will almost certainly fall short.

Here’s why…

Business Developers’ success is usually measured in terms of the number of opportunities they create, while Sales Reps’ performance is measured in terms of revenue.

While this may be effective for AEs, it compels BDRs to concentrate only on their number. As a consequence, they’re more likely to generate low-quality leads, pushing prospects regardless of quality, resulting in fewer conversions and revenues at the end of the funnel.

What is the solution?

Individual bonuses are based in part on team performance. To earn the bonus using this strategy, the squad must work together. They’ll coordinate actions and push harder when they fall short of their targets since they rely on one another to reach the figures.

Business Development in the Future

Business development is a valuable tool for expanding a company, but not everyone understands it. As a consequence, it is underappreciated and undervalued. Even more perplexing is the fact that it is so closely linked to sales (yet isn’t sales).

We’ve reached the point when business development is defining its limits. To remain ahead of the competition, businesses are investing in this position. Business development jobs are the sixth most in-demand new career categories, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2024 Future of Jobs Survey, with data scientists coming in first.

And it’s understandable…

Changes in consumer behavior necessitate the need for company growth. People may now discover (or not find) your firm in a variety of ways, and business development is the sole position charged with keeping up with trends and developing new methods to engage with prospects.

Of course, company growth cannot achieve success on its own.

It must collaborate closely with other departments to get access to the necessary resources and make things happen, particularly sales, which is responsible for turning business development into income.

As a result, the greatest investment a firm can make is to put up a solid team that includes marketing, business development, and sales – all of whom are aligned and working toward the same objective!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What skills does a business developer need?

Business developers need to be able to work with a variety of different people and have the ability to think critically. They also need to be good at organizing ideas, managing projects, and communicating with others.

What skills are needed in business?

Skills are needed in business to make money.

How do you develop business development skills?

Business development skills are developed by networking with people in the industry and learning from their experiences.

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