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7 Key Skills Business Development Managers Should Have

Business Development Manager is a pretty important charge within any company. 

Unlike the sales team, your duties rely more on managing relationships with actual and new customers so the entire company can keep growing and expanding. Interacting with clients can be stressful, and if that equation adds that you have to deal with the boss's demands, it can put more pressure on your back.

But, if you are a business development manager or want to become one, then "stress managing" is a skill you already have mastered or at least keep working on. Be that as it may, if you want to become a pro at business development, there are another set of skills that you should develop to be a pro at your job.

Let's find out which they are!

Business Development Manager - A female manger in the office with co workers.

What is a Business Development Manager?

Before describing the job, why don't we answer what is business development?

This process consists of setting methods to improve relationships with current and potential customers. The idea of this development is to promote business growth.To achieve this, business development managers have to build lists of sales and leads and then make a pitch for all of them to expand the company's client list. If you want to learn how to pitch to investors and customers, click here to learn everything you need.

These managers can find job opportunities in a wide range of areas:

Task & Responsabilities.

As a BDM, duties depend primarily on your company's niche. Still, some of the responsibilities are similar:

  • Goal planning
  • Look for new target markets
  • Take charge of business development staff
  • Researching
  • Sending cold emails to new prospective clients
  • Attending industry events
  • Preparing status reports on goals
  • Look for market opportunities for the company's products and services.

Pro Business Development Manager- Manager and workers at the office.

Pro Business Development Manager 

Business Development VS Sales: What's the difference?

While these parts of every enterprise should work hand in hand to get the best results, there are specific differences in what they both do. In essence, these are:

Business Development Sales Department
They don't sell. They engage with customers to move business relationships to the next stage of the sales funnel. Generate leads and sales for the company.
They pitch and give a taste of what the company is all about.  The sales team highlights product benefits, negotiates, and finally closes the deal.
If the company wants to extend their services to other countries, the business developer will contact the right people to expand the business radar to other territories. The Sales team could look for what differences or variations they could add to adapt to this new market. For example, when we see that Mc'Donalds offer menus adapted to foods in other countries, like vegan hamburgers in India.
Focus on long-term relationships with customers.  Focus on short-term financial growth for the company based on long term customers.

Business Development Manager Skills.

Business Development Manager isn't only a well-paid career, with a salary of $100,769. Still, it's also a job whose demand will grow by 8% from 2020 to 2028, says Zippia: The Career Expert.

But what skills do you need to become a pro-Business Development Manager?

You should have some marketing and sales experience, know how your business niche is performing within your country, and be even more professional worldwide.

This job is more of a public relationship where you'll have to deal with many meetings with other business owners and influential people. As you may have experienced, managing relationships with customers, team members, and your bosses can be tricky, but with these skills in your resume, chances are you'll be more successful at your job.


Although we previously delimited the clear difference between the business development and sales teams, that does not mean that you, as a developer, will not sell. In your case, they will not be goods or services. Instead, you have to sell your ideas, projects and, of course, the company as such.

In the same way, if you see growth opportunities for the company, you need to know how to sell the idea to your entire team so that everyone is encouraged to work towards that specific goal.

Among other skills that we could add are:

Communication and Empathy.

This one should be a no-brainer; nevertheless, we need to explain more about it.

You'll have to face many meetings as a manager, and communication skills should be all in.

Nonetheless, communication goes beyond being able to articulate good business or persuasive pitches. Your communication has to match the mood and feelings of your interlocutors. Hence, they feel comfortable when talking to you, and this good feeling we'll make them more open to negotiating. Read this complete guide on digital marketing funnel and then choose the right digital marketing channel for your business.

Being empathic means feeling their " flow " and acting on it. For example, if they are introverted, you should know to be more passive and polite when talking to them, so they can start feeling comfortable discussing more. If they're strict and disciplined leaders, then learn to adapt your personality to a more serious and professional ambient, where you can show you are a pro at your job.

Stealing a pro tip from the "48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene, the idea when dealing with people of power is not to threaten them but to make them feel good about themselves. As you make them feel comfortable about who they're and give sincere credit for their excellent work, these can put even the most shy customer in a more receptive state with you.

Some other skills you should develop are:

  • Written communication
  • Active listening, as we can learn more from customers from what they say
  • Video call
  • Presentation and pitching

Business Development Manager Skills - Female manager at her computer.Business Development Manager Skills


Marketing is better known as the art of selling.

As a business developer, one goal should be to promote the company to get better partnerships with others. Attention, as not all of these partnerships have to do with selling. Some are more tactical alliances, so both can benefit from it.

In your job, you should find ways to take the company's message to the right people at the right moment, and that's something we digital marketers manage to perfection.

If you need further help to promote your business, Codedesign can help you with this as we're experts managing digital marketing strategies like:

If you want more help with digital marketing, contact our team of experts.


When there are frictions in a conversation, or simply the client is a "difficult" one, the idea is not to throw in the towel and give up. Instead, what you need is to know how to negotiate!

Negotiating is reaching a joint agreement in which both parties benefit. For this, it is good to know how to adapt to the fact that there will be many refusals and discussions during your meetings. Still, instead of taking the defensive, you should rather develop the mental agility to turn it around and make a disagreement a point in common.

To negotiate, it's always good to know in depth the person with whom you are going to speak:

  • What's their company's performance?
  • What are they looking for?
  • What opportunities might be missing out, and how could you complement them?

As a result of these questions, you can have tools that help you surf any disagreement and thus finish closing that deal with them. In this article, you can learn more about conflict management.

Business Intelligence.

Business intelligence is basically about knowing everything about your industry and niche. But what is "everything"?

First and foremost, as a manager, you know that your company is not the only one in existence. You have competitors; as we emphasized back lines, you should know everything about them. Here is a complete guide on how you could use the digital marketing funnels to expand your customer base and how sell directly on Amazon with a detailed plan on Amazon listing optimization.

Doing a study and analysis of competition is a task that goes from knowing what they do that you don't, what things they may be surpassing you, and, of course, what you are better than them.

Being aware of all this information about your competitors allows you to know how to move the company appropriately so that you guys stay competitive in this whole "brand battle." If you make the right decisions, you will come out on top in this one.

On the other side of "everything," you must have a hunger and passion for knowing everything that is brewing around your business niche and how different factors such as politics, economy or even, in cases that warrant, the weather affect how your products or services are sold or traded.

AI is at hand for us to make sound decisions based on tangible facts, helping us to make data-driven decisions. This, combined with your talent and business intelligence, can generate fantastic results for your brand. Check these Amazon FBA tips to grow your business and see how optimising your Amazon listing could help you grow. 

Analyzing ROI data

To demonstrate the value of your work, you need to know how to measure the Return on Investment around all the decisions you have made as a business developer. For this, you must give information about your specific actions, how much time and money have been spent on this, and what benefits this has brought to your company.

Among the metrics that professional business developers usually manage, we have the amount of profit, the benefits achieved by the alliances with each client and how this affects the company's performance. This process must be documented with a certain periodicity and also provide specific information on what the plans for the company will be.

Project management

A company is a whole project, and since you are the manager, your task is to manage the entire project as "one."

In this key, the "one," is that key that unifies all the teams in your leadership since once you establish a single and clear objective, you will be able to see how all the teams around you will be able to row to the same goal. Read this guide on E-commerce supply chain and voice search optimization.

As always, leading a project consists of another set of skills, such as:

  • Leadership
  • Creative thinking
  • Ability to improvise in case a problem occurs
  • Ability to solve
  • Team management
  • Know how to delegate tasks to the right people.

Now, this article should not be your only source to aim to be a better manager, so we want to leave you with others that can expand your knowledge:

Final Thoughts

Although being a business development manager is an admirable and pretty difficult job, you can still get down to business and continue developing those skills necessary to perform, especially at your job.

At Codedesign, we support all professionals and other companies that want to take a step forward in excellence. We offer our digital marketing services to enhance all that makes them unique and valuable in the market. If you want more advice, contact us!

FAQS - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of a Business Development Manager?

A Business Development Manager plays a pivotal role in the growth and expansion of a company. Their primary responsibility is to identify new business opportunities, whether that's in the form of new markets, partnerships, ways to reach existing markets, or new product or service offerings to better meet the needs of existing markets. They focus on strategic business growth by leveraging extensive market research, competitor analysis, and current trends. For example, within the digital marketing sphere, a Business Development Manager at Codedesign might look into expanding their digital services portfolio or entering new geographic markets based on data-driven insights.

How does business development differ from sales?

Business development and sales are closely related but distinct areas within a company. The main difference lies in their primary objectives and the strategies they employ to achieve them. Business development focuses on creating long-term value for an organization through customers, markets, and relationships. It is about identifying and implementing opportunities for growth. On the other hand, sales are primarily concerned with directly generating revenue through the sale of products or services. For instance, while a sales team at a digital marketing agency might focus on closing deals with new clients for current services, the business development team would strategize on forming new partnerships or developing new services to meet emerging market needs.

Why are sales skills important for a Business Development Manager?

Sales skills are crucial for a Business Development Manager because, at the end of the day, the goal is to generate growth for the company. This often requires not just identifying opportunities but also convincing partners and clients to commit to new projects or collaborations. Effective sales skills such as persuasive communication, active listening, and negotiation allow Business Development Managers to successfully close deals, ensuring the successful implementation of growth strategies. For example, in the digital marketing industry, a Business Development Manager must articulate the value of complex services like programmatic media buying or data analytics in a compelling way to potential clients who might not be familiar with these terms.

How can communication and empathy improve business development efforts?

Communication and empathy are foundational in building and maintaining strong, positive relationships with clients, partners, and even internal teams. In business development, understanding the needs, challenges, and goals of others can lead to more effective solutions and collaborations. Empathetic communication helps in tailoring proposals that genuinely address the partner's or client's unique situation, thereby enhancing trust and the likelihood of success. For instance, a Business Development Manager at Codedesign might use empathy to understand a client's apprehension about adopting advanced data analytics, addressing their concerns through clear, reassuring, and informative communication.

In what way does marketing play a role in business development?

Marketing plays a crucial role in business development by creating awareness and generating interest in a company's products or services. Through targeted marketing strategies, companies can attract potential clients or partners, creating opportunities for business development teams to pursue. Additionally, marketing efforts can support business development by reinforcing brand reputation, establishing thought leadership, and providing valuable market insights through data analysis. For a digital marketing agency like Codedesign, effective marketing might involve showcasing their expertise through case studies, industry reports, or digital content, thereby supporting business development efforts by drawing in potential clients with demonstrated success and expertise.

What negotiation techniques are effective for Business Development Managers?

Effective negotiation techniques for Business Development Managers include preparation and research, understanding the other party's needs and objectives, building rapport, and being willing to compromise to find a mutually beneficial solution. Using a collaborative approach rather than a confrontational one helps in creating a positive negotiation atmosphere. For example, a Business Development Manager negotiating a partnership with a software company might focus on how the partnership could enhance value for both parties, leveraging data and insights to support their position and offering flexible terms that accommodate the key interests of both sides.

How does business intelligence contribute to the success of a business development strategy?

Business intelligence plays a critical role in informing business development strategies with actionable insights derived from data. By analyzing market trends, customer behavior, competitor performance, and other relevant data, Business Development Managers can make informed decisions about where to focus their efforts for maximum impact. For example, Codedesign utilizes advanced analytics to understand market demands, identify growth opportunities, and tailor their digital marketing services accordingly. This data-driven approach ensures that business development efforts are aligned with real market needs and opportunities.

What are the benefits of analyzing ROI data in business development?

Analyzing Return on Investment (ROI) data offers several benefits in business development, including the ability to measure the effectiveness of specific initiatives, allocate resources more efficiently, and make informed strategic decisions. By understanding which efforts are yielding the best returns, Business Development Managers can prioritize projects that offer the greatest potential for growth. For digital marketing agencies like Codedesign, analyzing ROI data from various campaigns allows for the optimization of digital strategies to ensure the most efficient use of budget and resources, ultimately driving better results for their clients.

How important is project management for a Business Development Manager?

Project management is vital for a Business Development Manager as it ensures that once an opportunity has been identified and agreed upon, the implementation is smooth, timely, and within budget. Effective project management involves planning, execution, and monitoring of business development initiatives, requiring a blend of organizational, communication, and problem-solving skills. It ensures that projects meet their objectives, stakeholders are kept informed, and any risks are managed proactively. In the context of digital marketing, this could involve overseeing the rollout of a new partnership between a digital agency and a tech provider, ensuring all deliverables are met and any issues are resolved swiftly to the satisfaction of all parties involved.

Can you provide some strategies for effective lead qualification and prospecting?

Effective lead qualification and prospecting strategies involve a combination of identifying the right target audience, understanding their needs and pain points, and using the most effective channels to reach them. Utilizing a mix of inbound and outbound marketing techniques, such as content marketing, SEO, social media advertising, and direct outreach can be highly effective. Additionally, leveraging data analytics to refine targeting strategies and employing CRM tools to track interactions and gather insights can significantly improve efficiency. For digital agencies like Codedesign, a focused approach on industries where they have proven success and the use of tailored messaging that highlights their expertise and case studies can lead to higher quality leads and better conversion rates.

About Bruno Gavino

Bruno Gavino is the CEO and partner of Codedesign, a digital marketing agency with a strong international presence. Based in Lisbon, Portugal, with offices in Boston, Singapore, and Manchester (UK) Codedesign has been recognized as one of the top interactive agencies and eCommerce agencies. Awarded Top B2B Company in Europe and Top B2C company in retail, Codedesign aims to foster personal relationships with clients and create a positive work environment for its team.  

He emphasizes the need for digital agencies to focus on data optimization and performance to meet the increasingly results-driven demands of clients. His experience in digital marketing, combined with a unique background that includes engineering and data, contributes to his effective and multifaceted leadership style.

Follow Bruno Gavino on Linkedin

About Codedesign

Codedesign is a digital marketing agency with a strong multicultural and international presence, offering expert services in digital marketing. Our digital agency in Lisbon, Boston, and Manchester enables us to provide market-ready strategies that suit a wide range of clients across the globe (both B2B and B2C). We specialize in creating impactful online experiences, focusing on making your digital presence strong and efficient. Our approach is straightforward and effective, ensuring that every client receives a personalized service that truly meets their needs.

Our digital agency is committed to using the latest data and technology to help your business stand out. Whether you're looking to increase your online visibility, connect better with your audience, get more leads, or grow your online sales. For more information, read our Digital Strategy Blog or to start your journey with us, please feel free to contact us.

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