Business Development Skills: Definition and Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 24, 2022 | Published July 26, 2021

Updated August 24, 2022

Published July 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Business development professionals advance a company's processes and opportunities. They use a variety of soft and hard skills to accomplish their goals. If you're interested in a successful career as a business developer, you can work towards learning relevant skills. In this article, we discuss what business development skills are, examples, ways to improve them, how to use them in the workplace, and how to showcase them when applying for a job.

What are business development skills?

Business development skills are the expertise that some professionals cultivate when they're in charge of growing a business. These skills help them identify opportunities to increase value, develop relationships, discover new markets, and connect with customers. The overall goal of developing these skills is to grow their business and increase profits.

Examples of business development skills

Positions in business development often have educational requirements like a bachelor's or master's degree, though requirements can differ from company to company. Regardless of your education level, here are some other skills you may need to be successful in a business development position:

Sales skills

Sales skills are the ability to find customers who are interested in your product and then use persuasive techniques to convince them to make a purchase. Business development often requires finding new markets full of customers who may be interested in your product. You may use these skills when selling a new idea for development to potential partners or superiors. For example, if you believe an acquisition of another company can open a new market for your company, you may need to persuade superiors to secure the deal.

Some additional sales skills that you may use are:

  • Prospecting: Finding new clients

  • Updating sales processes: Streamlining sales operations for increased productivity

  • Qualifying leads: Researching potential customers or opportunities and establishing contact

  • Nurturing relationships: Building a network that can provide you with leads

Communication skills

Communication skills are the ability to share information with your audience engagingly and understandably. These skills are essential for a successful career in business development because they are present in almost all aspects of your duties. These duties include:

  • public speaking

  • writing emails to prospective clients

  • drafting business proposals

  • communicating with employees and potential clients via email

  • delegating tasks and providing instructions to employees

  • negotiating deals with clients

  • networking

An example of communication skills in business development would be if a developer wrote a proposal and presentation that convinces a company to enter into a partnership by communicating the benefits to both parties.

Related: Personal Skills and Professional Skills You Should Have on Your Resume

Marketing skills

Marketing skills allow you to interpret market trends and analyze consumer behaviour and the actions of competitors. You can identify new markets to grow into by acquiring new customers and generating awareness. For example, a business developer may conduct marketing research to determine whether it would be profitable to move into a new market, and they may help develop a brand identity that promotes the brand to the new market.

Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

Business strategy skills

Business strategy is a large part of the development of a business because it establishes the processes and operations of a business to facilitate growth. A business strategy is the plan businesses create to meet their profit goals. You can use strategy skills to plan new developments that can increase profit, which can include forming new partnerships, making deals to reorganize supply chains, or creating distribution plans.

An example of a business developer using strategy skills would be a floral delivery business that has a strategy of using small supply chains to increase the speed of delivery and quality of flowers. A business developer can use this strategy to guide their development of partnerships with local flower wholesalers in the regions the business delivers in, instead of large flower wholesalers who import the flowers from abroad.

Related: How to Improve Your Skill Set and Keep Skills Current

Analysis skills

Business developers use analysis skills when figuring out what clients they want to reach or what type of deals to make. They analyze opportunities for potential risks and benefits so they can pursue opportunities with the highest likelihood of increasing profit. These business professionals analyze market trends and behaviours to find new avenues for profit. They also analyze other businesses' proposals and profit margins to consider if they should partner with them.

An example of a business developer using analytical skills is when a business developer reads a financial report from a company looking to partner on a new initiative. The developer needs to analyze the financial standing of that business and how they make their profit to decide whether working with them can grow the developer's own business.

Related: Analytical Skills: Essential for Every Job

How to improve your business development skills

Here are some steps you can take to improve your business development skills:

1. Get an education

There are plenty of bachelor's and master's programs that can help you learn these skills. Reading case studies and working with experienced professors will help you learn technical skills like marketing and analytics, which you can apply to draft a strategy and identify promising business leads. Taking part in class discussions and group projects can help you learn the soft skills you need to be strong in business, such as communication.

2. Gain hands-on experience

Getting hands-on experience in your field can give you a practical perspective on the skills you need. While you're in school, consider getting an internship in business development to gain experience. Otherwise, consider applying for entry-level jobs in business development.

Observe other people on your team, such as people who have worked at the company for a few years and are familiar with business development processes. Ask your supervisors and colleagues questions about the expectations and demands of the position, and inquire about their perception of your strengths and weaknesses to help you understand where you can improve.

3. Stay updated in your field

Once you have a position in business development, you can continue to improve your skills by subscribing to publications that focus on your industry and the business developments within it. You can also participate in conferences or skills development courses that can make you a stronger business developer. Making connections with other people in your field can help you work on your communication, sales, and marketing skills. Continuing to stay up to date on developments in your industry can help you hone your analytical and strategic skills.

Tips for business development in the workplace

In the workplace, there are a variety of tasks that can help you build your business development skills. Here are some things you can do:

  • Connect with industry peers: Building a network of people in your industry can help you develop your communication and marketing skills. You can market yourself as a good contact within the industry and communicate with other people about how their business is doing and what tactics they use for development.

  • Give presentations: You can practise your sales and communication skills by presenting ideas and speaking up in business meetings. This can also show that you have leadership potential, which is important if you want to advance into a business development management role.

  • Review case studies in your industry: Watching what other businesses in your industry do can help you practise your analytic and strategic skills. Analyze the moves of other businesses and watch for potential benefits and risks.

  • Propose new initiatives: If you can identify a way to streamline productivity or save money in the budget, try to develop an idea that you can present to your superiors. This can show that you have an interest in the business's development and can identify opportunities for profit growth.

Highlighting business development skills

Here are some ways to highlight your business-specific skills when applying for a job:

On a resume

Highlight your business management skills by creating a specific skills section at the top of your resume. Putting this section at the top shows it's important, increasing the likelihood that a hiring manager will read it.

In a cover letter

You can expand upon your experience and skill set in a cover letter to show how you've used business development skills in the past. Try to include anecdotes that have quantifiable proof of these skills. For example, in your cover letter, you can show that an initiative you lead increased profit by 50%. This gives the hiring manager context for how advanced your skills are and sets you apart from other candidates.

In a job interview

A job interview is where the hiring manager tries to get to know you better to see if you're a good fit for the company and the position. To show your skills effectively, research the company and the position. Find out what specific qualifications they're looking for and be sure to emphasize those skills in your answers to their questions. This can demonstrate that your skills align with their needs.

Related: What Does a Business Developer Do? (With Tips and Skills)

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