What Does a Business Development Manager Do?

Written by Coursera • Updated on

A business development manager works in strategic planning, sales management, and prospecting for new clients to help grow an organization.

[Featured image] A businesswoman is discussing a proposal on her laptop with her two other colleagues.

If you’re interested in strategic planning, setting and reaching goals, and working with people inside and outside of your organization, then you may be interested in a career as a business development manager. As a member of the sales team, you’ll help identify leads, offer proposals to new clients, and build relationships with customers and co-workers alike. Business development is crucial to the growth of an organization.

What is a business development manager?

Business development managers, sometimes abbreviated BDMs, are key members of the go-to-market (GTM) team. They are responsible for building lists of sales leads, then pitching to these prospects to build the company’s client list. In sales lingo, they help move people from the top of the sales funnel to the goal of being a signed customer. The business development role uses many business skills, including strategic planning, project management, and successful negotiation.

Tasks and responsibilities

While the role will vary depending on the company and the industry, you might expect your tasks to include:

  • Identifying opportunities in target markets for your organization’s products and services

  • Generating leads through cold calling prospective clients or networking at trade shows

  • Developing and nurturing relationships with key customer accounts

  • Keeping up with the latest industry developments, including market positioning of corporate competitors

  • Assessing client needs and the company’s ability to meet those needs

  • Following up with new leads and referrals generated from the sales team

  • Preparing status reports on goals

  • Using customer relationship management (CRM) software, such as Salesforce, to manage interactions

Successful business development managers often move into more senior business development and sales management roles.

Why pursue a career as a business development manager?

A career as a business development manager is good for someone who is outgoing, interested in sales strategies, and enjoys working with people. Good business development managers love the challenge of prospecting and accept rejection with grace. They view each “no” as putting them a step closer to a “yes.” They also enjoy being part of a team that works to build and execute a business growth strategy.

Business development manager salary

According to job site Glassdoor, business development managers in the United States make an average salary of $83,119 per year (January 2022) [1]. Salaries can vary depending on the industry, location, and amount of experience you have. 

How to become a business development manager

Follow these 5 steps to become a business development manager. 

1. Acquire a foundational education. 

Many business development managers have at least a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field, while some have a master’s degree. Business degree coursework can provide foundational knowledge of decision-making, data analysis, innovation, and entrepreneurship.  

Additional coursework in communication, marketing, and psychology can introduce you to important concepts related to the “people element” of business development. 

Ready to advance your business education and gain career-ready skills? Check out the online iMBA program with specializations in financial management and digital marketing.


2. Gain relevant experience. 

It helps to have experience with the selling process. For example, as an entry-level retail sales associate, your responsibilities might include guiding customers through their purchase decision all the way to the point of sale. As an outside sales representative position, your responsibilities might include reaching out to prospects, demonstrating products, and securing new customer accounts. 

Other key areas of experience include strategic planning, business management, and successful negotiation.

To supplement hands-on experience and learn advanced sales concepts and approaches, consider taking a course. For example, the Art of Sales: Mastering the Selling Process specialization is a great way to understand customers better and deliver winning sales pitches. 


3. Develop technical skills. 

Technical skills that can lead to success as a business development manager include project management, navigating Microsoft 365, and conducting search engine research

With businesses’ increasing need for secure information systems and robust use of data to guide decisions, you may find that specialized training in cybersecurity and data analytics gives you an edge as a business development manager. 

In addition, mastering customer relationship management (CRM) software can prepare you for a business development manager position, especially in larger organizations.

Want to learn CRM? The Salesforce Sales Operations Professional Certificate is a great way to learn how to manage teams, develop sales pipelines, and close deals effectively.


4. Enhance your resume. 

As you gain experience, skills, and education, it’s important to update your resume continually. Scour business development manager job listings to find out what companies are looking for. Highlight the qualifications that match job requirements and feature them prominently on your resume. 

Use action verbs to describe tasks you performed in previous roles, and when possible, emphasize any quantifiable outcomes.

5. Find your first business development manager position. 

With qualifications and an updated resume in hand, the next step is to begin applying for business development manager jobs you’re interested in. Which ones will contribute to the lifestyle you desire? In which of these positions will you get to work on projects and tasks that excite you? What do you admire about the companies who are posting business development manager job openings? 

As recruiters and hiring managers reach out to you to schedule interviews with companies, take time to improve your interviewing skills. You’ll want to be able to answer behavioral questions effectively using the STAR method, as well as prepare to ask your interviewer insightful questions, so that you can make the best decision for your career. 

Get started in business

If you’re interested in a job as a business development professional, start by building job-ready skills through the Salesforce Sales Development Professional Certificate on Coursera—no degree or previous experience required.

Alternatively, explore whether the field is right for you (or continue developing core skills) through the Business Strategy Specialization from the University of Virginia or Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills from the University of Michigan.

Related articles

Article sources

1. Glassdoor. “Salary: Business Development Manager, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/business-development-manager-salary-SRCH_KO0,28.htm.” Accessed January 24, 2022. 

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

Big savings for your big goals! Save $200 on Coursera Plus.

  • For a limited time, save like never before on a new Coursera Plus annual subscription (original price: $399 | after discount: $199 for one year).
  • Get unlimited access to 7,000+ courses from world-class universities and companies—for less than $20/month!
  • Gain the skills you need to succeed, anytime you need them—whether you’re starting your first job, switching to a new career, or advancing in your current role.