How to be a successful head of business development

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Head of business development jobs are among the most senior sales-focused jobs there are. But what skills do you need to succeed in one of these highly sought-after positions? 

What does a head of business development do?

Head of business development jobs vary from organization to organization. Primarily, they are responsible for managing a team whose job it is to bring new customers and clients to the organization. As a result, they’re absolutely integral to the success of a business, its ability to grow and gain market share.

In a smaller business, there may be significant marketing responsibilities but there will always be a strong sales element underpinning the role. Most of all, a head of business development will have a big involvement in strategy - which makes them very attractive for sales specialists looking to have more of an involvement with how the business is run and greater interaction with extremely senior stakeholders. Specifically, your boss is likely to be the MD or CEO of the organization.

As a result, these jobs represent a great opportunity for someone with significant sales experience who is looking for a genuine opportunity to influence and shape a business.

What are a head of business development’s main responsibilities?

Responsibilities do vary according to business and/or sector. But there will almost always be duties specific to more strategic elements. As a result, having a close handle on the rest of the market and competitors is key. In particular, specific business development responsibilities generally include:

  • Continually developing your employer’s brand and building increasing awareness in the market place
  • Generating and seeking out potential new opportunities
  • Developing and managing relationships with potential clients, influencers and key stakeholders
  • Evaluating new opportunities to ensure resources focus on the best opportunities
  • Managing proposals, submissions and bids
  • Monitoring competitors and reviewing your employer’s offering in light of competitors developments
  • Participating in new business contract negotiations

What other elements are involved?

Given your primary objective is to grow the customer/client base, you may also have some marketing responsibilities. In smaller businesses, you may even be required to head up the marketing team and oversee marketing budgets and activities. Evaluating ROI on all marketing spend will be a key objective.

What skills do I need to be successful in this role?

This is a very senior role, so certain skills are a given. Specifically, you’ll be expected to be a confident presenter (both formally and informally), possess excellent commercial understanding and awareness, be a good networker and be results-driven, self-motivated and self-disciplined. You’ll also need to be extremely focused on your prime objectives and you’ll often be required to be creative in order to achieve these.

In addition, you’ll need to be a good negotiator as securing the best deal for your business is an important part of the job.

What experience will I need to secure one of these jobs?

You’ll need a proven track record of securing profitable new business and experience of managing staff and negotiating substantial contracts. Your CV will need to reference specific figures in respect of your achievements. Relevant sector knowledge is always preferable for employers looking to hire.

For more information on how Robert Walters can assist you with your job search, please get in touch with a consultant.

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