So you’re wondering how to get into business development? Good for you! This article will put you on a fast track path to getting your foot in the door of a business development job.
Before you jump right in you should first understand what business development really entails. A good definition for business development is “Business development is a business-to-business (B2B) transaction of solutions from a provider to an organization to help solve their problems.”
With this definition in mind, the goal of the business development representative is to help organizations solve their problems primarily through the use of technology.
This requires the salesperson to be able to get in contact with organizations that might benefit from their technology. They then need to learn if their technology solution would be a good fit for that particular organization’s problems and to convey their findings to the organization.
The way the technology salesperson gets in contact with organizations that could benefit from their technology is typically through the use of outbound calling, emailing, and messaging. This is the primary job of a business development representative which is also known as a sales development representative.
The way the technology salesperson learns if their technology would be a good solution for the organizations’ problems is by having a deep understanding of both the problem and solution, then asking smart questions to help uncover if they’re a good fit. This is the job of an account executive.
The way you learn how to do these things is not as simple as many other types of jobs. College doesn’t teach business development. You cant choose business development as your major.
This is because business development skills aren’t easily taught in a classroom because it’s an art. It’s very difficult to teach someone an art without them actually doing it. How can you teach someone how to be a painter without painting? How can you teach someone how to be a singer without singing?
Step 1: Learn the Basics of Business Development
The first step of how to get into business development is by learning the basics that are required for you to get your first job and be successful.
These business development basics can be learned through a few different methods with each having its own pros/cons. Here at CourseCareers, we connect students with their first business development job
Learn Business Development Through Self- Education
The first way to learn the basics of business development is by educating yourself. This is normally done by learning from a variety of different resources in a near-random manner.
The way people do this is by cherry-picking information from books, videos, and articles. They use a shotgun approach to learning as much as they possibly can about business development. While this does work, it also has sub-par results.
Much of their time is spent learning the wrong information or from bad sources. The information that they actually need to learn isn’t normally in-depth enough for them to get a good grasp on it.
The biggest benefit of this method is that it’s nearly free other than the cost of the books. The biggest negative is that it takes substantially more time to acquire the basics through this method than the other methods.
Learn Business Development Through a Bootcamp
The second way to learn business development is by going through a bootcamp. This is typically done in-person full-time very intensely for a couple of weeks or months. An example of this kind of bootcamp for coding is General Assembly.
The way people learn through is a bootcamp is normally by having an in-person instructor teach classes to a group. This could look very similar to what a college classroom would be like.
Much of their time is spent learning the right information from an experienced instructor. This makes it a very efficient method for learning the basics.
The biggest benefit of a bootcamp is that you are in a physical classroom with the instructor and other students. The biggest negative is that there is little flexibility requiring you to commit full-time and learn at the same pace as they teach. It’s also by far the most expensive option.
Learn Business Development Through an Online Course
The final way to learn the basics of business development is through an online course. This is done online at the student’s own pace.
The way people learn through an online course is by watching/reading a series of information compiled together. The majority of the learning happens at the students’ own pace along with the guidance of an instructor and other students. We teach students business development through an online course here at CourseCareers.
Much of their time is spent learning the right information from a well thought out course. This makes it a very efficient method for learning the basics.
The biggest benefit to an online course is that you have all of the benefits of a Bootcamp along with additional flexibility and a much lower price. The biggest negative is that you don’t have a physical classroom to attend.
Step 2: Get Your Foot in a Business Development Job
Once you have learned the basics from you’re chosen method, then you must get your foot in the door to start applying what you learned.
This initial experience will solidify the basics you learned and set you up to continue learning.
Internship VS Entry-level Business Development Job
The way you get into a business development job will either be with an internship or through an entry-level position.
An internship in business development will typically last 3-4 months and will have you supporting the sales team while also doing some sales activities yourself.
Getting your foot in with a business development internship will likely be much easier than trying to start out as an entry-level business development rep. This makes an internship ideal for someone who has minimal previous B2B sales experience.
An entry-level position in business development will be as a business/sales development rep. You will be making calls, sending emails/LinkedIn messages, and doing research with the goal of setting up qualified meetings for your account executives.
Getting your foot in the door as a business development representative will be harder than starting in an internship. This makes it ideal for someone who already has B2B sales experience.
Apply to Business Development Jobs
The best way to apply to business development jobs isn’t by clicking that apply button on job boards. This is especially true if you don’t have a degree since your resume could be automatically filtered out.
If you went through a bootcamp or online course, then they might have a network of companies that want to hire you. This is what we have for our students who finish our business development training program. If not, then the best way to go about applying for these companies is by treating your job search just like a sales process.
Identify about 10 companies are hiring for business development reps. These should be companies in industries that you want to work at.
Submit an application on their website. This will most likely not get you an interview, but it will give you a better reason for reaching out to them.
Identify the person in charge of the business development team or the entire sales team. The higher up you go, the better. The person at the top can easily make the decision to hire you.
Reach out to that person through calls, email, and LinkedIn about your interest in working at their company. If you want to learn more about how to get their contact information and this process, then read the complete guide.
Schedule an interview with the hiring manager.
Successful Business Development Interviews
Once you land a business development interview with a company you must do everything you can to make it successful by turning it into a job offer.
- Update your LinkedIn & Resume to showcase your business development knowledge and tailor it to your desire to start a career as a business development rep.
- Learn as much as you can about the company you’re interviewing with. You should know their products, their customers, their competitors, etc.
- Practice some sales interview questions by predicting what they will likely ask you and what objections you might have to overcome.
- Wear the proper business profession or business casual attire based on the company you’re interviewing with
- Show up on time and make a great impression.
If you did a good job at preparing yourself for the interview and selling yourself, then you should have a job offer. If you like it, then go ahead and get started. If not, then keep interviewing and get multiple offers on the table to choose from.
Step 3: Learn Business Development on the Job
Congrats on getting your foot in the door! The final step is to use that experience to continue your education so you can be successful and get promoted.
Use Company Resources
The best way to learn business development on the job is by using the resources available to you at the company. These resources include trial and error, your manager, the sales enablement team, and other reps.
Trial and error have proven throughout history to be one of the best ways of learning. You learn by doing. Test out everything you learned and create a hypothesis on what will work better so you can test that too. The great thing is that if something doesn’t work out, It’s not your dime!
Your Manager is an amazing resource to help you learn. They are measured on your performance, so they have every incentive to help you learn as much as you possibly can to be successful. Learn from them!
The sales enablement team is responsible for training the sales team and giving them the necessary tools to be successful. They love helping salespeople as they are measured on how much they help out the team. Use their training!
Other reps are a great resource to learn from. They probably have only recently learned things themselves so they can relate better to you. Use their learnings to your advantage.
Salespeople love to talk and teach others so much that they create groups to help other salespeople.
There are online groups and in-person groups that all they do is talk about sales. Some of the people in these groups could range from individual rep all the way to CEO, so you get a wide range of perspectives.
Just by being around a group like this, you will pick up so much information. You will learn the latest techniques and tricks from salespeople across industries.
On top of using your companies resources and talking to other salespeople, you should also continue learning through books, articles, videos, etc.
This will allow you to constantly be learning the most up to date techniques from the smartest people in the field across the world. This should be used in combination with the on the job training for maximum learning.
This self-education can also be used to learn more about management or other careers to transition into. This will put you on a fast track path to raise to the top.