7 Skills Every B2B Business Development Manager Needs7 Skills Every B2B Business Development Manager Needs.

Ever hired a business development manager (BDM) and then had to let them go after 6 months? …You’re not alone.

The world has changed and sadly many old guard BDM’s that have been unable to adapt and keep up in a hyper-connected world have fallen by the wayside.

My Linkedin post earlier in January talked about the need for BDM’s to have at least three core capabilities. While these capabilities are at the essence of a successful BDM’s career, the kit bag of tactical skills has also changed driven by enabling Saas software tools like CRM’s, email marketing and mobile apps.

Here are 7 skills that should be part of your BDM’s capability audit:

1. Increase sales from existing accounts.

Existing clients offer huge potential for significant revenue growth but this valuable pool of revenue potential is often ignored in favour of a shiny new customer. BDM’s must be able to nurture their existing client base and deliver more services and greater value to grow revenue, particularly given the cost of acquisition is much lower for a captured client that a new one.

Low cost technologies such as Saas CRM’s like Contactually and Nimble make nurturing existing clients a lot easier than ever before.

2. Establish new partnerships and new accounts.

The ability to generate business from new clients is a core skill of any successful BDM. In addition the B2B BDM must also ensure that new clients are a strategic fit for their organisation.

Looking beyond the direct client sale and thinking about the development of partnerships with suppliers or complementary service providers is critical in a world where technology is changing the shape of our industries at a pace we’ve not seen before.

3. Understand & implement revenue growth strategy.

“Strategy? Rubbish, I just go out there and sell – I’m a natural!”

While ‘now’ sales are critically important, sophisticated business development is about more than the immediate sale. The modern BDM needs to understand corporate strategic purpose and objectives, and then be able to craft a revenue growth plan that identifies actions and activities which will connect with the right partners.

4. Understand what drives customers.

The BDM, more than anyone else, is best placed to learn and understand what customers want and need now and in the future. To gain advantage the modern BDM needs to decipher what’s driving the customer’s purchase decision.

Understanding what drives customer buying decisions is critical. If you understand your customers better than your competitors you’ll stand a better chance of winning more often.

5. BDM’s must be competitive intelligence gatherers.

Strategy is about winning. Winning is about being different from your competitors (and your substitutes) in a way that matters to the people you wish to matter to.

When it comes to competitors, the modern B2B BDM is the eyes and ears of the organisation.

The BDM in B2B markets is perfectly placed to gain insight about competitors and feed this back to management to establish how an organisation can out-position the competition.

6 Define & analyse new markets and service opportunity.

Modern BDM’s must be capable of identifying new market and service opportunities through the insight gained from customer interaction.

With a time of rapid change and disruption comes opportunity to define new service opportunity or create new markets where none existed (think iTunes, Spotify and Mailchimp).

7 Leverage the move to mobility and embrace technology.

The migration to mobile technology, the emergence of powerful and affordable technologies including CRM, marketing automation, social media platforms (eg LinkedIn) and sales pipeline tools (eg Pipedrive) requires the BDM to actively engage in these technologies in order to keep up with and get ahead of the competition.

BDM’s need to leverage these technologies to enhance their efficiency and increase the effectiveness of their business development activity.

Final Thought.

In the face of an avalanche of new technologies, marketing automation and CRM’s the simple fact is that people still buy from people and so the B2B BDM still has a critical, albeit more sophisticated part to play in the success of any modern B2B business.