As a business development professional, you have to evaluate the performance of the company and find ways to improve it.

Such improvements are possible through strategies like building and maintaining better relationships with your business partners and looking for more opportunities in other areas.

Maintaining growth in a competitive market is a challenging task; hence, business development professionals must have the necessary skills and expertise for the job.

To convert new leads into customers, you have to keep your skills up to date, understand the trends in your market and improve business effectiveness. Here is a list of the top skills that every business development expert should have.

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Business Development Skills

1. Communication Skills

Communication skill is a vital requirement in the field of business development.

The professionals should have the ability to write and speak clearly and confidently. As a business development professional, you have to be an excellent listener to capture valuable feedback from customers.

Business development managers must find prospective customers, maintain long –term business relationships and forward the necessary information to stakeholders.

Excellent communication skills are a boost to winning during negotiations as well as maintaining a close relationship with leads even if they haven’t closed a deal yet.

The prospective customers will only move through the funnel if you keep them interested through your communication and selling skills.

One way of improving communication skills is through presentation practice that will boost your confidence. Confidence is a boost to your communication skills as it gives potential customers a sense of trust. The best communication style must be genuine as a way of building trust with your partners.

2. Sales Skills

One way of improving your business is by growing your customer base. Business development professionals have to identify potential customers and come up with follow up strategies.

They are also required to go an extra mile of building a strong relationship with potential partners and prospective customers.

A business development strategy can improve sales through activities such as cold-calling or planning one-on-one meetings to sell your business opportunities to prospective customers.

The growth of a business is dependent on the acquisition of new customers. Every business developer has to scale down the numbers to those with a higher possibility of buying the deal.

Business developers are also required to work closely with the sales department to encourage more qualified sales as a way of increasing the number of successful deals. The sales team will present the product to the customer and negotiate for the best deal.

It is important to note that the business development professionals don’t close deals even after taking part in the sales process. The responsibility of converting the prospects into customers is left to the sales team. The business development professionals and the sales team must collaborate to streamline the sales process and improve the business sales success rate.

3. Marketing Skills

The Business Development department also works closely with the marketing department for the success of the business. A business development professional must understand the necessary marketing skills and apply them in their day to day roles.

Both the marketing department and the business development teams have the same goal of growing the business; however, the approaches may be different.

In small companies, the business developer may be required to perform some tasks related to the marketing department as such companies may not have the resources to incorporate a full marketing team.

Such tasks include expanding the market, promoting the brand and create product awareness. Business developers are more focused on forming partnerships rather than marketing new products to customers.

4. Business Intelligence

As a business development professional, you have to go beyond your business and understand how competitors and the market is performing. To gain such understanding, the business development experts must conduct thorough research, collect data and also analyse it.

Proper data analysis is an effective way of understanding your market and knowing the market segment that best suits your product.

Business intelligence provides relevant information about the market, such as its size, the competitors and possible changes in the market. Such knowledge is very crucial in ensuring that the business stays updated with the relevant statistics about market trends.

Data collection and analysis is also a part of business intelligence. Most of the business data that benefit business developers include the size of the market, possible changes affecting the market, and the types of campaigns that successfully impact the market positively.

Ways of improving your business intelligence skills as a business development professional include research, data collection, and analysing the target market.

5. Project Management Skills

Project management has a considerable impact on the success of a business development professional. Business development should be viewed as a large project.

Some of the skills that you need as a business developer are related to project management. The skills that cut across these two fields include leadership skills, risk management and monitoring and team management. Team management is crucial when managing a project because you cannot perform all the tasks alone.

Every business has a focus to meet their development goals. To achieve these goals, they must have access to the best professionals that will drive the development agenda and exploit their growth potential.

As a business developer, you have to support your team, evaluate their performance and also resolve any possible conflicts.

6. Negotiation Skills

As part of business development, you have to convince others to do something that was not in their plans. Negotiation skills are essential for business development. Good negotiation skills ensure that you get a higher client conversion rate.

For better negotiations, a business development professional must be diplomatic and know the customer needs. Excellent negotiation skills are beneficial in resolving customer related conflicts, a better understanding of clients and partners and relationship building.

As a business developer, you will be negotiating on behalf of the company, meaning you have to ensure that the terms agreed upon are favourable to your organisation.

To convince prospective customers, you have to be ethical and find ways of earning their trust. Good negotiation skills are also focused on winning the hearts and minds of prospects through tactical means.

Communication skills bring the candidates on board, but excellent negotiation skills ensure that the prospects will be in the business for long.

7. Strategic Skills

Strategy is a key factor in business development goals.

As a business development professional, you have to forecast for months and years ahead. A proper strategy will depend on your prioritising capability and the use of research to better understand the situation.

The strategic skills will enable a business benchmark the competition and come up with strategies to keep it ahead of others.

Business development professionals have the role of coming up with strategies that will enable them to build trust with the customer and move the prospects from the initial stage of just buying and selling to a more beneficial state of partnership.

8. Computer Skills

Every employee in today’s business set up must have the necessary computer skills. You may not be required to have IT or programming skills as a business developer, but you must have the skills needed for daily operations.

Most business communications, analysis and research, are done using computers in this digital era, meaning you have to understand the basic programs.

Some of the basic computer programs include the Microsoft office applications needed for routine documentation needs as well as email for communication.

Computer illiterate employees are less efficient and may not meet the needs of the employer. Customers also not trust your capability to keep up with the ever-changing business world if you cannot work with computers.

Apart from the necessary Microsoft Office skills, a business development manager must also be in a position to work well with the CRM software.

9. Analytical Skills

A business development manager must have an analytical mind to reach for potential. You need to analyse the market research and sales data to identify possible opportunities.

A business development professional also has to differentiate the opportunities that make commercial sense and pursue them. A business can lose time and money by investing in non-profitable projects that cost more to run than what they bring in.

One function of a business development manager is to track the company’s returns on investment and gather data to support the findings when presenting the information to the executives.

As a developer, you can track different metrics depending on the sales cycle and the needs of your company. Some of the standard measurements include revenue, the number of completed deals as well as the number of sales pipeline achieved. The business development team must show the effect of their influence on the sales pipeline delivered.

To identify profitable opportunities, the business development team must understand the market through aggressive data collection and analysis.

The team must be up-to-date with the latest trends in the market from which they will identify possible risks as well as opportunities that can put the company ahead of the competition.

10. Goal–Focus

New business is always about strategies and goals.

As a business development professional, you must work with goals and targets to pursue long term plans. Good business developers know the importance of goals and a plan to reaching them.

A goal provides the direction while the plan acts as in giving the clarity on what needs to be done to achieve the set goals.

Proper goals and plans are also a tool used for the support needed.

The business development professionals can present their goals and plans to the leadership and use the facts to request for the required resources, the laid down plans are also a guide to the sales team that works closely with the business development team.

Every business development person must be in a position to set their own expectations and come up with plans to meet them.

11. Organisational Skills

As a business development expert, you will have to work with the other departments in the organisation and also report to the top-level management. The modern business set up is result-based, meaning tight deadlines are a common work norm, yet you still have to develop the sluggish prospects that take longer to mature.

Good organisational skills enable this professional to balance all the duties and responsibilities bestowed upon them. They have to organise the workloads of the related teams and also manage their team for visible results.

12. People Skills

Every business deals with a more significant percentage of people skills than management skills. People skills include factors such as individual contribution to the growth of the company, handling disputes and teamwork.

The most beneficial quality in people skill is listening carefully to others before you talk and respecting those with an opposing view. A competent business development professionals take the available opportunities to talk and present to others the best they can offer.

13. Creative Thinking

Creative thinking can boost a business development’s ability to identify new opportunities as well as ways of developing the existing opportunities. Creative thinking is a skill that every business development professionals should have as the competition market becomes more complicated.

You can train the professionals in areas such as sales techniques and marketing, but you cannot teach them to be creative. Creativity is a natural skill that can be harnessed to provide value of the company by building a stronger relationship and finding better opportunities.

14. Collaboration Skills

Collaboration is also a part of Business development skills.

As a development professional, you will not work alone.

You will have to work with others from inside and outside the organisation. Good collaboration skills enable people to build relationships, solve conflicts, influence others and overcome office politics to get things done.


Skills for business development is a new term in business, but it requires a person with the best skills for the best resorts. A business development professional is an all-round individual needed to collaborate with the rest of the organisation to take it to the next level.

These professionals mostly work with the sales department and most importantly, with the marketing department where the business development skills are paramount in ensuring success.

The above list is some of the skills for business development that an employer should look for when hiring a business development professional.


Kevin Thomas Tully is a globally-recognized Social Selling and Big Data strategist who employed the principles of Social Selling long before the term entered the popular business vernacular. A Johns Hopkins-trained data scientist, Kevin has applied true buyer intent data, predictive analytics, and data mining to the sales and marketing process for more than a decade to gain a strategic marketplace advantage for leading brands worldwide.

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