Useful Skills in Business Development

Throughout my career I have had dozens of conversations with thoughtful, accomplished, and seasoned Business Development (BD) Professionals about what skills are most useful in BD – and how to learn and demonstrate them.

Here is a summary of my key takeaways from these conversations.

BD professionals are well versed in their fields. Specifically, high-value BD professionals know the following:

  1. Who is building (interesting products, services, and companies in a given market segment);
  2. Who is deploying capital (what quantities, the terms, where, and how often);
  3. What is being built;
  4. Patterns (industry trends and market changes);
  5. The relevant stakeholders (investors, founders, operators, and builders that will provide introductions, insights, and guidance to move forward deal-flow and revenue).
  6. Hypothesis Formulation: BD professionals have informed perspectives and are viewed as a subject matter expert by senior audiences.

BD professionals build and sustain domain expertise over long time horizons. They use the right skills for the right task at the right time.

They invest a lot of time helping others. Being genuinely interested in other people is a super power.

SkillHow BD Professionals Demonstrate the Skill
Advocate for and positively represent one’s business when working with internal and external business stakeholders.Demonstrate thought leadership, and be frequently engaged in projects and discussions that drive value for their firm beyond core functional areas.
Expertly lead a work-flow or BD engagement to deliver results while providing a framework and processes that allow scale.Drives significant business impact around core operating metrics (revenue, profitability, adoption of services, etc).
Inspire and persuade others to pursue and achieve goals, and adopt new positions or opinions.Is skilled at influencing across levels, both internally and externally.
Can write well and articulate industry trends holistically.
Provides insights, intelligence, and advice to operators, founders, and industry stakeholders, and is viewed as a subject matter expert by senior audiences.
Integrate executive direction into every decision and consultation.Steps in to remove roadblocks at all levels of the organization, both internally and externally, when needed. 

BD professionals need to deliver impact. Specifically, high-value BD professionals can play a mix of offense and defense simultaneously in order to contribute to the following goals:

  1. Top-Line growth (revenue).
  2. Bottom-Line growth (profitability).
  3. Product or Operational developments (business planning or the introduction of new products into a market).

BD professionals are goal oriented and get the right things done.

Offensive Skill Defense Skill
Drives projects to successful conclusions. Takes into account competing priorities and objectives, is flexible, and makes decisions on which goals should be prioritized.
Displays foresight and drives strategic direction around key goals.Gets industry intelligence to bring back to his/her firm to add operational, product, or financial value.

Good BD leaders coach and guide others on how to manage competing priorities and objectives.

SkillHow BD Professionals Demonstrate the Skill
Articulate a strategic long-term vision of what global impact looks like at the firm and leverages the appropriate resources for success.Consistently communicates priorities ensuring the right things are getting done.
Delegates work effectively, ensuring all team members are contributing to goals.Delivers towards long-term strategic initiatives, valuable investments, or helping other teams achieve lasting impact.
Manages team and resources effectively to deliver results on assignments / projects.Makes significant, lasting changes in structure, culture or focus of the organization to generate organizational success.

BD professionals work to link mission, vision, values, goals, and strategies into their everyday work.

They take calculated risks to improve performance. I rarely see great BD professionals “eating alone”: they are always with people, asking questions, listening to feedback, and engaging in pattern matching. 

If you aspire to improve your BD acumen, try to be active and to be present where the action is.

Lead people and projects to achieve desired results and long-term objectives.

SkillHow BD Professionals Demonstrate the Skill
Communicate and collaborate with a variety of different stakeholders across teams.Establish strong relationships with both internal and external leaders.
Identify and grow effective leaders within his/her team and organization, shaping culture.Lead multiple teams, managed both directly and indirectly.



Adam has 10 years of experience working for various technology companies. He decided to share his experiences and passion for remote work on in order to help others work from home successfully.

Work From Home Adviser
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