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Business development: managerial tasks, job, salary

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Business development should help companies to become and, above all, to remain successful. The Business Development Manager takes care of all conceivable measures that can help achieve this goal. Sounds like a job with a future - and it is. For people in this job, that means to be constantly on the lookout for new trends and developments, but not to lose sight of the present. Which methods are used, which fields of activity there are and what you can earn in this job ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what is business development?

The terms business development and business development manager have been used more and more recently. The reason is, among other things, that there are currently many vacancies with this designation. So what does that mean? It is primarily about strategic and operational business development. To put it simply, business development ensures that the company can continuously develop, win new customers and consumers and thus steadily increase sales. Various measures and concepts can be taken for this purpose.

Business development in German

In German, business development is sometimes translated as business development. Opinions on the term differ. This has to do with the fact that the areas of responsibility can be very broad, depending on the size of the company. Larger companies and corporations use a business development manager for these tasks, often abbreviated to BDM. In small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the same tasks are often bundled in one person, namely that of the managing director. This is about business development itself and not so much about individual business areas, says Michael Bernecker, Managing Director of the German Institute for Marketing.

What do you do in business development?

Anyone who works in this area must always be focused on the future. As a BDM, you will analyze the change and find measures how the company can react to it. The aim is to keep an eye on the competition and to stabilize or expand your own market position. Depending on the company's focus, three different directions can be distinguished:

➠ Marketing-oriented business development
➠ Product-oriented business development
➠ Sales-oriented business development

The specific activities of a BDM can therefore vary greatly - which area is the focus in the company depends on the respective job advertisement. The core task of a business development manager is to help the company stay successful. It's not that easy, as very few of us have any idea what will sell well on the market in a few years' time.

As a BDM, you have a feel for certain trends and topics. A BDM must know where a company wants to be in a few years' time, which long-term goals the management is pursuing and must clarify measures how these can be achieved. Incidentally, this also means that the BDM thinks about which customers and partners of the company could contribute to this goal. He analyzes which customers and partners are profitable and economically interesting and which, conversely, stand in the way of the planned project. The tasks can be summarized as follows:

  • Develop strategic ideas
  • Show new markets, opportunities and potential
  • Recognize trends and future developments and react to them
  • Development of targeted business plans
  • Review and evaluation of the measures taken
  • Build fruitful business relationships
  • Keep an eye on the competition

This managerial activity therefore has a number of overlaps with other jobs and professional profiles, for example:

➠ Innovation manager
➠ Key account manager
➠ Project manager
➠ Product Manager
➠ Marketing Director
➠ Sales manager
➠ Marketing Manager
➠ Operations Manager

Some even see the business development manager as an intrapreneur. This in turn comes very close to the tasks of a BDM in smaller companies, since the boundaries between the areas of sales, production and marketing are blurring.

Methods in business development

Some methods and tools are used over and over again when it comes to business development. This includes the SWOT analysis. The term comes from English and is a so-called acronym. In other words, a term that is made up of the respective first letters of the individual words. In our example:

➠ Strenghts (strengths)
➠ Weaknesses
➠ Opportunities
➠ Threats

The four terms together form the matrix that is used for analysis. It is used to determine opportunities and risks in the market. At the same time, they look at where their own skills lie and how they can be improved. This analysis not only includes aspects such as leadership style or employee competencies (is there a need for training?). Rather, the framework conditions are also critically examined, such as outdated systems and what financing options there may be for modernization. If a smooth process is guaranteed and everything is state-of-the-art, this contributes at least as much to the company's success as the latest management methods.

Download: SWOT analysis templates

Instead of working on your own template for a long time, you can simply use our templates for your SWOT analysis - and download them free of charge as Word or Excel files:

How do you become a business development manager?

If you are interested in this job, ideally you have a degree in your pocket. There is not yet a separate course for Business Development Manager. However, some universities offer a focus on business development in their master’s degree programs. Daily tasks are about economic issues. So you are usually right with a business or economics degree. However, it also depends on the area in which you work as BDM.

If you are interested in biotechnology, for example, studying natural sciences is also an advantage. Even humanities graduates have good prospects, provided they have the business skills required for the respective focus. The industries in which there is currently a particularly high need for business development managers include:

➠ Pharma
➠ chemistry
➠ biotechnology
➠ IT
➠ telecommunications
➠ Mechanical and plant engineering

As a Business Development Manager you will not only work in German-speaking countries and, above all, not only with customers and partners who speak German, knowledge of foreign languages ​​is essential for the job. English is a prerequisite for specialists and managers today anyway. You have good cards if you also speak a language from the Asian region.

The soft skills of the business development manager

In addition to the “hard facts” such as training and foreign language skills, certain soft skills also count, especially in a communicative job like that of business development manager. The various job advertisements of the companies can also provide an indication of the required soft skills. This includes the following:

How much does a Business Development Manager earn?

A job in business development is usually well paid. According to statista.de, newcomers to the industry can expect an initial salary of an average of 46,000 euros. Depending on the size of the company and personnel responsibilities, salaries of almost 100,000 euros per year are possible. Of course, this also applies to this profession: Those who perform well can negotiate their salaries individually and get well in excess of the 100,000 euros annual salary.

With interesting additional qualifications, further training and great successes in business development, you can get a lot out of salary negotiations. In addition, the job of BDM is a job with a future. It can be assumed that the demand for these skilled workers will continue to rise in the next few years. With the result that salaries will probably continue to rise.

Vacancies and jobs

Sounds like a job that could also be something for you? Then take a look at our job vacancies. Maybe the right thing for you is there!


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[Photo credit: Karrierebibel.de]