Aligning the industry you work in with your interests is a good idea, as strong knowledge of the products/services – as well as developments in the industry – will allow you to carry out this role effectively.
The basic aim of business development executives, also known as business development representatives, is to increase the amount of revenue a business gains by generating more leads. This role differs from that of an account executive due to the emphasis on new clients: a business development executive is more likely to be employed by a company looking to expand its client base, perhaps by breaking out into new sectors or using new methods of reaching and communicating with potential leads. So, creative and strategic thinking is likely to be essential. Maintaining current business relationships will still be important, however.
Day to day responsibilities might include:
- researching potential new leads and keeping on top of developments in the industry
- contacting prospective clients through a variety of mediums – this could include reaching out on social media, phoning, emailing or meeting in person
- working with other teams and colleagues to help align offerings with the needs of clients
- keeping on top of administrative tasks – such as updating CRM (customer relationship management) systems
- holding presentations and demonstrations for potential clients
- communicating with and informing existing clients in a way that supports an ongoing relationship.
Typical employers of business development executives
Business development executives may be employed by any company looking to expand its base of clients. The advantage of this is that you could find a role in a whole host of industries. Aligning the industry you work in with your interests is a good idea, as strong knowledge of the products/services – as well as developments in the industry – will allow you to carry out this role effectively.
The TARGETjobs website is a good place to look for vacancies – or for work experience that will improve your chances of securing a job. You could also take a look at sales-specific or industry-specific websites.
Qualifications and training
The experience level expected for business development executives can change across different employers. So, while many roles will be open to graduates or entry-level candidates, you may find that some are more senior positions aimed at those with a few years’ sales experience in the industry. Looking at the job description for each individual role carefully will help you to choose the one appropriate for the stage you're at in your career.
Many entry-level positions require a 2.1 degree – although this is not the case for all and, with enough experience, you may be able to enter this career area without a degree. Work experience in a sales or customer-facing role is likely to be required or highly desirable. This might be through a part-time retail position, an internship, volunteering or any other opportunity that involves plenty of contact with customers or clients.
Key skills for business development executives
- strong communication and presentation skills
- the ability to influence and negotiate with others
- commercial awareness
- the ability to think creatively and strategically
- organisational skills
- self-motivation and the ability to be motivated by targets
- basic IT skills.