Business development managers (or BDMs) drive the growth of a company by continually identifying and approaching potential users of their products or services – and signing them up as clients of the business.
Ultimately it is a sales role, aimed at growing the number of clients a business has, and therefore the revenue it generates.
Business development managers are normally found in companies who offer large and complex services, such as B2B (business to business) firms.
This in-depth guide includes a complete business development manager job description and discusses everything you need to know about business development managers, including average salaries, skills, employers, progression and more.
- Business development manager job description
- How much do business development managers earn?
- What does a business development manager do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs business development managers?
- Which junior jobs progress to business development manager roles?
Business development manager job description
Job title | Impact Digital
About Impact Digital
We are a digital design and marketing agency helping emerging technology start-ups and innovators to drive growth and achieve their goals through innovative brand development, strategy and digital marketing solutions.
About the role
We’re on the lookout for an experienced and result-driven Business Development Manager to build upon our existing relationships, develop new channels of business and grow our client base and revenue within the healthcare sector.
- Mapping out yearly growth plans, setting milestones and strategies for client acquisition and revenue targets
- Identifying new business opportunities through effective prospecting and lead generation strategies
- Cultivating warm business and partner relationships over the phone, via email and through face to face meetings – increasing spend with current clients
- Creating and presenting dynamic, engaging pitches and proposals to prospective clients
- Utilising the CRM to track contacts, quotations, tenders and contracts
- Developing a strong, ongoing understanding of market trends, industry developments and competitor activity
- Negotiating service agreements and generating professional tender documentation
- Closely monitoring performance and provide regular reports and data to senior management
- Working closely with service delivery team to ensure client satisfaction and maximise retention figures
Location & commitments
- Full-time, permanent role based at in our Leeds city-centre office.
- Monday-Friday, 35 hours per week with flexitime between 7:30 am and 5:30 pm.
- Regular travel required to visit prospective and current clients, including occasional international travel.
- 2+ years within a business development or sales role (within the digital or creative sector would be an advantage)
- Strong commercial awareness, sound judgment and competent in business
- A good understanding of digital products and the health care sector
- Demonstrated experience of pitching for high-value business and achieving service sales
- Strong verbal and written communication skills, and relationship building abilities
- A degree or postgraduate qualification in a relevant subject area
Contact us to apply
If you would like to apply for this role and gain the opportunity to access an uncapped commission and bonus scheme, please send your CV to our UK sales team leader, David Hider at firstname.lastname@example.org
How much do business development managers earn?
The financial rewards for a career in business development can be high, with an average salary of £42,500.
Business development manager salaries in the UK
- Low: £32,500
- Average: £42,500
- High: £52,500
Business development manager salaries will vary hugely depending on:
- The industry of the employer – As work is available across a wide array of sectors — for example, IT, education, charity — salaries can vary significantly
- The product or service being sold – For example a manager selling multimillion pound office building services, will probably earn more than a manager selling office supplies like tables and chairs
- The size of the employer – Large national and international firms are likely to pay more than small and medium-sized businesses or start-ups
- General salary factors – As with most professions, the level of candidate experience and location can also have a big impact on salary
For example, a senior business development manager with specialist tech knowledge, working for an international IT company, will normally earn significantly more than an entry-level business development manager in the public or charity sector.
The figures listed above are taken from job advert samples and do not include extra benefits such as bonuses and commission (which can be extremely generous in business development roles), overtime and non-financial benefits, like healthcare.
What does a business development manager do?
While the job description will vary from role to role, below is a general overview of the tasks and responsibilities that business development managers carry out:
- Researching sales opportunities – Researching and identifying potential opportunities for the business, including new markets, leads, potential clients etc.
- Pinpointing contacts – Finding the appropriate contact for an organisation or client who they wish to sell their services to
- Delivering pitches – Preparing and delivering effective sales pitches according to the needs of the client in order to secure orders/sign-ups
- Cold calling – Calling prospective clients to make them aware of their/product and service and attempt to book meetings to progress to sale stage
- Meeting leads – Meeting with potential clients to discuss how their employer’s products/services can meet the client needs – with a view to arranging a sale
- Delivering presentations – Planning, creating and presenting presentations and pitches for a range of clients and stakeholders
- Writing proposals – Creating detailed proposals to lay out complex service delivery and pricing to potential clients, and get final sign-off for sales
- Building relationships – Building upon and nurturing existing client relationships via phone, email and face-to-face meetings, and discovering further sales opportunities
- Advising clients – Giving specialist advice on the products and/or services being sold
- Monitoring trends – Keeping abreast of industry and market trends and competitors, both locally and internationally
- Meeting targets – Hitting monthly or quarterly targets set out by the company, such as client sign ups and revenue generated
- Internal reporting – Providing regular updates to senior management on key figures laid
What does a business development manager need?
In order to carry out the job to a high standard, business development managers need a good standard of education, a knack for sales and negotiation, as well as in-depth knowledge of the sector being worked in.
Specific requirements will vary from role to role, depending on the industry and the seniority of the job. Generally though, here’s what’s needed:
Junior business development manager jobs are often available to graduates with no experience — but as graduate schemes are competitive, work experience in sales, customer service or marketing is a distinct advantage. Some employers will also consider junior applicants without a degree, providing they showcase the right soft skills and some relevant work experience.
Mid-level to senior business development manager roles will normally require candidates to have several years of experience in a business development manager or sales role. Often, companies will prefer industry and sector-specific experience — for example, if an IT firm was hiring for a senior BDM, they’d normally prefer someone from an IT background specifically.
Business development manager skills
For business development managers to excel in their role, they’ll need a firm grasp of the following soft skills:
- Communication: Clear and confident written and verbal communication with other professionals within the company, as well as potential clients and business partners
- Interpersonal: Forging strong and trusting relationships with clients and businesses
- Negotiation: Negotiating terms that are favourable or profitable for the business
- Presentation: Presenting pitches and ideas to a range of clients and stakeholders
- Analytical: Analysing data and market research to make better business propositions
- Time management: Balancing tight deadlines with developing slow-burning opportunities
- Tenacity: Working to challenging targets and dealing with rejections from potential clients
Business development manager qualifications
There are no set-in-stone entry requirements to work as a business development manager, unless candidates are applying for a graduate role specifically. The majority of employers value proven sales experience, strong commercial sense and well-developed communication skills over qualifications.
With that said, a good standard of general education is often expected. Additionally, securing further education and/or vocational qualifications can help business development managers to stand out for competitive jobs and perform better in their roles.
While degrees aren’t always an essential requirement for business development roles, many business development managers do hold one. As the field can be competitive, the knowledge and soft skills gained from a degree in a relevant subject can act as a distinct advantage.
Relevant subjects include:
- Business management
- Business administration
- International relations
- Accountancy or finance
Graduate employers or schemes normally ask for a grade of 2:1 or above.
Chartered Institute of Marketing
The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) is a world-renowned marketing body who provide a range of marketing qualifications and professionally-recognised sales training courses. While not a prerequisite, CIM qualifications may help professionals to strengthen their core skills and advance within the business development sector faster than they otherwise would have.
Institute of Sales and marketing Management
The Institute of Sales and Marketing Management (ISMM) is an OFQUAL and QCA-recognised sales and marketing course provider whose qualifications focus on combining principles with practice. Again, these are by no means essential to gaining employment in the field, but can act as a great way for business development professionals to bolster their sales skills, learn new techniques and advance their performance.
Subject matter qualifications
As business development professionals need to be able to understand industry jargon and talk about their business’s products and services with confidence, it can sometimes be beneficial to hold qualifications in a relevant subject matter, especially in technical fields — for example, an IT business development manager would benefit from having a degree or vocational qualification in IT or computer science.
What is expected of business development managers?
Business development managers will typically be expected to commit the following:
- Full time hours – Between 35 and 40 hours per week, primarily during standard office hours, is to be expected
- Regular overtime – In order to meet project deadlines or attend networking events or conferences, occasionally working outside of normal office hours may be required
- Location – Primarily based at the employer’s office
- Regular travel – Travelling to and from face-to-face meetings to meet customers and other business partners is common
Business development manager benefits
On top of their standard salary, business development managers will normally receive a decent benefits package, including perks like:
- Bonuses & commission – Depending on performance, these can big significant — sometimes matching or surpassing the annual salary
- Pension scheme
- Car allowance or company car
- Corporate discounts
Who employs business development managers?
All successful companies and organisations need to continuously bring in new clients and develop strategic partnerships. This means that there’s an ongoing need for skilled business development managers across the country, in a wide range of industries and sectors.
However, it usually tends to be companies who offer large complex products and services in the B2B (business to business) space who require the services of a business development manager. For example:
- Car hire firms who provide large fleets to businesses with lots of drivers
- Software companies who provide complex IT packages for thousands of staff members
- Recruitment companies who provide large numbers of staff to businesses
- Marketing companies who provide ongoing marketing services over months or years
Companies who sell high volumes of simple products (e.g. a retail store selling food and drink to the general public) would not require a BDM to sell those products, as the sales process is relatively straight forward, and the value of each transaction is very low in comparison to a large B2B deal.
Typical business development manager employers include companies within:
- Finance & banking
- IT & software
- Marketing & advertising
- NHS & healthcare
- Charity & not-for-profit
Which junior jobs progress to business development manager roles?
Alongside entry-level/graduate jobs and schemes, there are a number of roles which see employees naturally step into business development positions.
Often, business development managers actually work their way up within a business, via a customer service, sales or marketing role, such as:
Customer service representative
Customer service reps support customers by answering their queries and questions, dealing with complaints and providing helpful information. Often, they also generate sales leads that develop into new customers. With the sales skills and product knowledge gained in the role combined, they tend to make fantastic candidates for internal business development roles.
Account managers and executives act as the liaison between a business and its customers, whilst also drumming up new business deals (with those existing customers) and maximising the profitability of accounts. As the role requires solid communication and negotiation skills, along with strong product or service knowledge, a sidestep into business development is common.
Sales executives and assistants sell an organisation’s more basic products or services to customers. They may also support a BDM by generating leads and handing them over to the BDM to close the sale. The mix of sales and negotiation skills required makes them strong candidates to move into business development roles and become independently responsible for the sale of the company’s larger complex products.
Which senior jobs do business development managers progress to?
Even though a job as a business development manager alone can provide a very generous OTE (On target earnings) the role can also act as a springboard into even higher paid, senior roles.
As the business development field requires such a wide array of skills — from commercial acumen and strategy development, to marketing and financial planning — experienced professionals would be suitable for a variety of roles across marketing, sales and management.
However, some of the most common moves include:
Senior business development manager
With a few years of experience and proven results as a BDM, it’s possible to move into a senior role. While job duties will vary from role to role, senior business development managers are generally responsible for leading a team of business development managers, as well as hitting their own personal sales and revenue targets.
Business development director
Some experienced business development managers are able to progress into a director-level role, or head of business development. These roles normally include overseeing the business development, sales and marketing functions of an organisation and report directly to the company director or owner.
Business development consultant
Very experienced business development managers can set themselves up as self-employed consultants or start their own company. They will then charge clients a fee to advise on business development strategies, commanding high day rates and more flexible working hours.
Business development manager job description – conclusion
A career as a business development manager is challenging, varied and fast-paced.
The skills gained within the position are highly transferable and open opportunities for progression throughout sales, marketing and management.
Additionally, roles in the field offer a higher-than-average salary, with the added benefit of uncapped bonuses and commission.