Ever hired a B2B business development manager (BDM) or sales rep and then had to let them go after six months? …You’re not alone.

The world has changed, and many ‘old guard’ B2B sales teams have fallen by the wayside, or team performance has diminished. Typically, these teams have not been able to adapt their sales efforts to match the modern-day buyers’ ‘research-first’ way of buying in a hyper-connected world. 

Today’s potential clients are researching first, so B2B marketing efforts, from marketing strategies to content creation, need to build brand awareness and nurture new prospects to a point where they are ready to speak with a BDM

A prospect’s transition from the marketing department to the sales team now happens much later in the B2B buying process, and as a result, the B2B business development process has changed. 

Sales efforts need to align with the digital marketing strategy, marketing activity, and online advertising, and seamlessly follow the feel of the marketing messages and content. If not, an abrupt interchange between the digital marketing impression and the sales experience can potentially alienate qualified prospects after their first real engagement with a salesperson.

Business development managers can’t rely on old tricks

Sales reps can’t rely on old tricks. Suppose they have little knowledge of how search engines are used by modern B2B buyers, or how they can leverage a company digital marketing strategy. What If they can’t leverage the tracking ability of a modern CRM?  What do you do if they can’t grasp new sales technology or social platforms like Linkedin to help them sell better and faster?  It’s almost game over before it begins.

My Linkedin post earlier in January talked about the need for B2B sales reps to have at least three core capabilities. 

While these capabilities are at the essence of a successful BDM’s career, the kit bag of tactical skills also needs to be up to date, driven by SaaS software tools like CRM’s, email marketing and mobile apps.

Ask yourself “is the new B2B business development manager a good fit for existing customers?” 

It’s worth writing about how to hire a B2B business development manager because, quite often, businesses don’t get it right. Companies put the obvious things in an ad, like we need someone to go out there and win new customers. Often, that’s just a small part of what you need to meet your business goals. 

Hiring managers need to think beyond new business. 

It’s worth remembering, it’s not all about new potential customers. 

A typical B2B marketing plan is at least 33% directed toward the company’s database and existing customers via email marketing and existing social networks like Linkedin in order to generate qualified leads and reignite potential customers from the captured pool. 

Hiring managers and decision-makers should think about how a newly hired BDM will impact relationships with existing customers. This is often overlooked. You could lose more than you gain by getting the wrong person on board. 

With this in mind, here are 7 of the skills needed by a great B2B business development manager that should be part of your assessment of your prospective hire:

1. Increase sales from existing accounts

Existing clients offer huge potential for significant revenue growth but this valuable pool of revenue potential is often ignored in favour of a shiny new customer. BDM’s must be able to nurture their existing client base and deliver more services and greater value to grow revenue, particularly given the cost of acquisition is much lower for a captured client that a new one.

Low cost technologies such as Saas CRM’s like HubSpot make nurturing existing clients a lot easier than ever before.

2. Establish new partnerships and new accounts

The ability to generate business from new clients is a core skill of any successful BDM. In addition the B2B BDM must also ensure that new clients are a strategic fit for their organisation.

Looking beyond the direct client sale and thinking about the development of partnerships with suppliers or complementary service providers is critical in a world where technology is changing the shape of our industries at a pace we’ve not seen before.

3. Understand & implement revenue growth strategy

“Strategy? Rubbish, I just go out there and sell – I’m a natural!”

While ‘now’ sales are critically important, sophisticated business development is about more than the immediate sale. The modern BDM needs to understand corporate strategic purpose and objectives, and then be able to craft a revenue growth plan that identifies actions and activities which will connect with the right partners.

4. Understand what drives customers

The BDM, more than anyone else, is best placed to learn and understand what customers want and need now and in the future. To gain advantage the modern BDM needs to decipher what’s driving the customer’s purchase decision.

Understanding what drives customer buying decisions is critical. If you understand your customers better than your competitors you’ll stand a better chance of winning more often.

5. BDM’s must be competitive intelligence gatherers

Strategy is about winning. Winning is about being different from your competitors (and your substitutes) in a way that matters to the people you wish to matter to.

When it comes to competitors, the modern B2B BDM is the eyes and ears of the organisation.

The BDM in B2B markets is perfectly placed to gain insight about competitors and feed this back to management to establish how an organisation can out-position the competition.

6 Define & analyse new markets and service opportunity

Modern BDM’s must be capable of identifying new market and service opportunities through the insight gained from customer interaction.

With a time of rapid change and disruption comes opportunity to define new service opportunity or create new markets where none existed (think iTunes, Spotify and Mailchimp).

7 Leverage the move to mobility and embrace technology

The migration to mobile technology, the emergence of powerful and affordable technologies including CRM (HubSpot), marketing automation, social media platforms (eg LinkedIn) and sales pipeline tools (eg Pipedrive) requires the BDM to actively engage in these technologies in order to keep up with and get ahead of the competition.

BDM’s need to leverage these technologies to enhance their efficiency and increase the effectiveness of their business development activity.

Final Thought

In the face of an avalanche of new technologies, marketing automation and CRM’s the simple fact is that people still buy from people and so the B2B BDM still has a critical, albeit more sophisticated part to play in the success of any modern B2B business.