What Does a Business Development Manager Do?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A business development manager helps grow an organisation by working in strategic planning, sales management, and prospecting for new clients.

[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 organisation, 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 an organisation's growth.

What is a business development manager?

Business development managers (BDMs) are key go-to-market (GTM) team members. They are responsible for building lists of sales leads and then pitching to these prospects to build the company’s client list. In sales terminology, 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 organisation’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 closer to a “yes.” They also enjoy being part of a team that builds and executes a business growth strategy.

Business development manager salary

According to the job site Glassdoor, business development managers in the UK make an average base salary of £52,735 per year as of May 2024 [1]. Salaries can vary depending on the industry, location, and amount of experience you have. 

How to become a business development manager

Follow these five steps to becoming a business development manager. 

1. Acquire a foundational education. 

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

Additional communication, marketing, and psychology coursework 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 programme, which offers modules 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 include guiding customers through their purchase decisions to the point of sale. As an outside sales representative, your duties might involve reaching out to prospects, demonstrating products, and securing new customer accounts. 

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

Consider taking a course to supplement hands-on experience and learn advanced sales concepts and approaches. For example, the Art of Sales: Mastering the Selling Process specialisation 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 data use to guide decisions, specialised training in cybersecurity and data analytics may give you experience 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 organisations.

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 CV. 

As you gain experience, skills, and education, updating your CV continually is important. 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 CV. 

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

5. Find your first business development manager position. 

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

As recruiters and hiring managers contact you to schedule company interviews, please take time to improve your interviewing skills. You’ll want to be able to answer behavioural questions effectively using the STAR method and 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 is required.

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

Article sources

  1. Glassdoor. “Salary: Business Development Manager, https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Salaries/business-development-manager-salary-SRCH_KO0,28.htm.” Accessed May 20, 2024. 

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