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What is a Business Development Specialist?

By Ken Black
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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A business development specialist is an employee charged with driving new business to a company using a variety of methods and techniques. In many ways, the job is more complex than a general marketing job and includes a number of other activities, some related to marketing and some not.

This person usually reports to the chief marketing officer or some other senior-level executive. However, he or she can also be a senior-level executive, answering to the company president or directly to a board of directors. The salary for this role is varied and is largely dependent on the level of seniority a company gives to the position.

While marketing is one of the job's primary duties, the position carries a more focused task. Specifically, the job of the business development specialist is to attract new business. This may be done through promotions, product development or research.

In some cases, a business development specialist can be a key figure involved in the development of a new product. The specialist could conduct focus group testing to determine how a new product will be received, take prototypes out for review and then report back to the production team.

Once the product is in production, a business development specialist is often responsible for marketing or working with the marketing team to come up with an effective campaign. He or she is an important member of this team because, as that person has already conducted an extensive amount of research, he or she has unique knowledge of what potential customers have already said about the product.

In addition to new products, a business development specialist usually works with existing products in new markets, trying to find the most effective introductory strategy into those markets. This could be researching where to put the next chain coffee store or working with an industrial customer to show them how a product or service will increase efficiency. The possibilities for new business development are largely dependent on the industry and its existing saturation.

One of the most important jobs of any business development specialist is to build relationships not only with outside customers, but within the company. Often, a company’s growth depends on new products or new customers, or a combination of both. However, growth will be difficult if there is not ample communication and a spirit of cooperation between all parties.

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Discussion Comments
By Viktor13 — On Jul 27, 2011

@MaPa - You are quite right about needing to take care of these guys. A lot of what they do is building relationships, and the problem with that is their relationships can tend to travel with them if they leave you. Which kind of puts you in a spot if half your accounts leave in one day.

Even with no-compete contracts and other safeguards, I think the best defense against losing business like that is to make your business development person so happy that they just don't want to leave.

By winslo2004 — On Jul 26, 2011

For businesses who cannot afford a full-time person to do business development (at this level of growth it is usually the owner or President doing this work, it may make sense to hire a business development consulting firm. This is a critical need for a business, since there is no money coming in without customers.

Some of them will work on a "pay for performance" basis, so the majority of their money comes after they deliver you some clients, rather than before.

By MaPa — On Jul 25, 2011

This can be a critically-important job within a company. In a law firm, they refer to those who are good at this as "rainmakers", and they are prized employees who will often become partners in the firm.

It stands to reason that a person who can bring in lots of business would be a guy you'd want to take care of, because if he can do it for you he can do it for someone else.

I know that a business development specialist salary can vary tremendously from company to company, but it seems smart to me to tie it to performance. Give them a modest salary and a bonus or commission based on new business developed in a set period of time, be it a year, quarter, or whatever.

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