Business Development Career Path

Just like we have career paths for every profession, there is also a career path for business development as there is always a need to transcend to higher positions. Stagnancy in business is rare, it is either you are growing, or you are not. And if you are growing, you will always find it necessary to improve your skills and attain better positions. The business development career path is not limited to business owners alone.

If you work in a business-like organization, you should also aim to advance higher as that will help you build your portfolio in the business world. This article will discuss everything you need to know about business development, career path, essential skills, and tips for success.

Business Development Career Path

Your business development career path begins from attaining a formal education. But if you don’t have the opportunity to attend one, then you should increase your skillset. However, a steady career path in business development starts with an entry-level position as a business development representative. From there, you begin to advance to a managerial role, with the possibility of being a leader.

Business development career path

What does a typical business development career path represent?

Before you get overwhelmed, note that a career in business development is demanding and also rewarding. As a new college graduate, working in a company’s business development team is a great choice, as it is an excellent way to start your career journey. Meanwhile, some organizations do not hire entry-level candidates without previous sales experience, so starting with a business development team is like a stepping stone.

Also, a typical business development career path requires a lot, especially if you are starting. Your beginning determines how your journey will be. As a beginner, you are most likely to start with a business development representative, move to a business development manager, and then business development leadership.

Business Development Representative

We have essential areas under this category: marketing, customer success, and customer service. This entry-level position is like the prospecting and qualifying stage that leads you into the real funnel. For a typical BDR, you will be calling and emailing prospective clients in the hope of booking sales appointments. As we said earlier, joining a company as a business development representative is a great way to project your prowess and experience.

However, before applying for this role in any company, take note of the quota. Ensure you are comfortable with the environment and code of conduct as you will be dealing with prospective clients most of the time. As a business development representative, you will gain valuable skills that will push you further in your career. The common promotional step for BDRs is an Account Executive or Account Manager. That is just one of the paths. Other common paths include marketing, customer service, and sometimes a position outside of sales. As you each yourself grow in business development, there are chances that you can become a team lead down the line.

Example of a BDR job description

A technology company requires a Business Development Representative with strong interpersonal and communication skills, a focus on organization, and enhanced multitasking abilities. B2B sales, marketing, and strategic analysis are important aspects of the position, exceptional negotiation skills, and close deals. The ideal candidate has experience researching market trends, targeting relationships, and using proven methods to develop our business strategy while retaining marketing partners.

Business Development Manager

Going from a business development representative to a manager comes with new responsibilities, and, of course, it is more challenging. A business development manager is responsible for leading a team of business development representatives. A BDM oversees the sales process that involves marketing and qualified sales lead. In other words, this position comes with the responsibility of handling all units of the sales pipeline and managing individuals.

Anyone in this position must have experience as a business development representative in the past. This criterion is to ensure that the person is very familiar with the key responsibilities of the BDR team. Although, in some companies, they prefer to have a BDR manager with Account Executive experience in the past. Also, as a Business Development Manager, meeting expectations and leading your team is paramount, as there are still opportunities for growth at higher levels.

What does a business development manager do?

The responsibilities of a BDM are quite enormous, but it is not beyond human control. Business development managers are responsible for helping businesses grow by identifying new opportunities, researching leads, establishing relationships with potential clients, and arranging sales executives’ appointments. Other responsibilities include:

  • Research prospective accounts in targeted markets, follow leads, and ensure a successful agreement.
  • Understand the target markets, including industry, company, project, company contacts, and which market strategies can attract clients.
  • Interact with design and sales teams to ensure timely delivery of requirements.
  • Maintain healthy relationships with current clients and identify new prospects within the area of assignment.
  • Possess a strong understanding of company products, competition in the market, and positioning.
  • Follow the latest industry developments, trends, and stay up-to-date on corporate competitors.
Business Development career path

Expected skills and requirements of a business development manager

  • BA or BS degree
  • Five years proven track record in business sales or related market.
  • Excellent organizational skills, with emphasis on priorities and goal setting.
  • Strong proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and statistical analysis software.
  • Great presentation and communication skills, both written and verbal.
  • Technical skills required to understand and propose products or solutions by focusing on client requirements.
  • Ability to communicate information, whether technical or non-technical to staff members and customers, clearly and concisely.

How to become a business development manager

Inasmuch it would be best if you started from the entry-level, which is a BDR, you can still be employed directly as a business development manager. But such a feat depends on your portfolio and your skills. How well equipped to become a business development manager overnight? Here are some steps you can take to help in your business development career path.

  • Gain the necessary education: There is no national requirement to become a business development manager. But most employers require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in business administration, business management, finance, accounting, marketing, communications, or another related field. Though it is not an urgent necessity, obtaining a master’s degree in a business-related field can help increase your value to employers.
  • Have a mentor: Having someone who is in the files already is necessary. This is because you will learn from both the success and mistakes of that person. A mentor will also help you expand your professional network. And you will even learn more about launching a career as a business development manager. It is not a bad idea to have a mentor. Your mentor could be a teacher, former manager, fellow alumni from your school, or any experienced professional. This person will be obliged to share his/her experiences, guidance, and advice. A mentor can also help connect you with potential job opportunities. In other words, you can attain the office of a BDM via a mentor even without going through the BDR phase.

  • Acquire the appropriate technical skills: Digitalization is taking over every sector. And it is only wise that you acquire as many technical skills as possible because they are vital to driving excellence in your career. To prepare for a career as a business development manager, you should build your skills in certain areas. Such areas include project management, customer relationship management software, spreadsheets, word processing, and business presentation software.
  • Develop your soft skills: Becoming a successful computer engineer requires a lot of work. The same applies to BDM. You have to develop relevant soft skills. Skills to develop include negotiation, persuasion, written and verbal communication, problem-solving, time management, organization, attention to detail, customer service, professionalism, goal-setting, and presentations. You should also know how to comfortably speak with professionals at every business level, including chief executives.

  • Check your career goals: Before you launch a career as a BDM, consider your career aspirations. Review your choices to be sure that you are capable of signing up in any company. Working as a business development manager is a great way to grow your project management, communication, and team leadership skills. If you hope to attain a leadership position or start your business someday, BDM is an excellent way to the top.

Furthermore, when you’re in an interview, be sure to point out necessary technical and soft skills, such as business software you’ve used. However, you should mention only the skills that the company requires. Also, be ready to share how you used these skills to drive success in previous roles. By following these steps, you’ll be prepared for a position as a BDM for interview offers.

Business development leadership

In your business development career path, this seems to be the peak. Leadership roles are very tasking, especially when it business-like. You are not only dealing with colleagues, but you are also managing customers and sales in general. Across different companies and industries, there are numerous opportunities for strong candidates to be hired. In other words, the competition attached to hiring a business development leader is another journey on its own. The job titles may vary, but common examples include a VP of Business Development or Director of Business Development. These roles are usually filled by people who have been in the BDR manager role before or have substantial experience managing a team in a quota carrying position.

As you advance in your career, there is a significant shift in responsibility. A person at this point in their career will likely no longer be managing individual contributors. He/she will even be less caught up in the day-to-day operations of their team. Instead, the focus is on strategic decision-making and tracking company goals at a much higher level. Also, this role comes with its troubles, but it is enriching.

Mastering your business development skills

As a beginner or expert in the field, you will undoubtedly need a pretty robust set of sales skills to succeed. However, you shouldn’t worry your head about not having talent as it goes beyond that. Many of the most successful “business dev” professionals knew almost nothing about the industry before starting. Instead, they committed to learning something new each day and pushing themselves to improve. So you can start from scratch, with the dedication of course.

The skills you master early on in your business career will shape the rest of your path. Sales skills such as cold calling and objection handling are easily transferable to everything you need to do when you reach the Executive Account level. The good thing is, the skills you acquire in business development apply to other areas. For example, time management and active listening are crucial to job functions such as marketing and customer service.

Keep your motivation alive

No matter how much you love something, it is not always easy to keep up with your job motivation. The pressure is overwhelming, but one thing you shouldn’t lack is the focus. It is also imperative that you develop positive habits early to maintain your sales productivity and avoid overusing your energy. Distractions come easily. Hence, you must find ways to continually remind yourself of your short- and long-term career goals every day. When you pause to look at the bigger picture, it’s easy to see how the journey so far.

Away from the distractions

This laid out career path shouldn’t limit you. Explore and expand your career. The journey is yours; just take time to hone in on your skills and interests. This article is only a guide to help you through your career path. Remember, there are many opportunities for growth in this field. Also, remember that your career path is a journey, and you must be open-minded to both the struggles, successes, and the opportunities. Finally, this career path is not just a white-collar job description, every businessperson must also understand that business is a journey. You can decide to work in any of the roles specified above before you start your business.

If you found this article helpful, leave your questions and contributions in the comment section.

About the author

Agim Amaka is a writer at With vast knowledge in writing, she creates quality content and articles for blogs, websites, and posts for various social media platforms. As an extraordinary writer, she is very much concerned about her audience; readers and clients.