BizDev in engineering marketing company: tasks, challenges, cases. A story of my switchering with Big4

Hello! My name is Denis Yatsko, 4 years ago I switched from KPMG in the field of performance-marketing and now I am a Senior Business Development Specialist at expla. It’s hard to imagine systematic and sustainable business development without a BizDev, who serves as a bridge between an engineering marketing company and a client looking to increase volumes. In this blog, I will talk about the routine and unusual challenges I face; about  building long-term partnerships with businesses, and solving non-standard cases.

Who is BizDev and what is his role in the company

BizDev is the driving force that pushes the company forward. This specialist is one of those who shape the direction of movement in certain areas and he must know what keeps the business alive. 

The work of a business developer is sometimes compared to that of sales managers, but not every salesperson is a business developer, and not every business developer is a salesperson. The role of sales managers is to find clients and offer services to leads, then pass it on to other departments of the company. For a business developer, however, this stage is just the beginning: a series of negotiations, presentations of services and products, signing contracts, discussing accompanying terms (price, budget, frequency and method of payment, limitations, etc.). We must understand the client’s business economics, quickly get up to speed on their industry, and the sphere in which they have long been working. This provides added value to the company in the initial negotiations regarding the terms of cooperation.

Next, we develop the business, improve conditions, and strive to reach a defined maximum level of cooperation. It’s important for both us and the client to understand this maximum so that we have benchmarks in our work. Therefore, we often take direct part in developing new products or services, expanding the assortment, and increasing the client’s market share.

What does a BizDev do and why they’re important

A Business Development Specialist is a professional who works on the development and scaling of a business. Put simply, the task of a business developer is to ensure that the company grows faster than it would without their involvement.

70% of our work is communication, solving current tasks, and business issues. This includes finding advertisers and building long-term business strategies. When you work with a partner in the long term, there are many questions that arise that are not within your direct competencies, but you must understand them. This includes optimizing workflows, data analytics, and some legal aspects. BizDevs also manage and control clients’ accounts receivable and much more.

Case: The client is unaware of their maximum potential, or conversely, overestimates their strengths

There are cases where the client underestimates their strengths and real potential. In such situations, the negotiator’s skill is crucial in the initial stages, as the BizDev needs to find out what the client is truly prepared for. Often, clients avoid discussions about the volumes they could realistically work with us. Most of the time, we manage to determine and discuss this on our own. A BizDev should always have a guideline: it’s frustrating to invest a lot of time and effort where there won’t be maximum return and results. Although it’s often risky. Mostly, we focus on stable cooperation with large clients and gradual growth.

But there are cases where the advertiser is not ready for scaling. We advise them, offer great services, but, for example, they may have cash flow issues or other circumstances. In this case, we find a middle ground and come to an agreement. In essence, based on their capabilities, we will provide a certain volume of users, but gradually, we must reach larger volumes.

Both of the extreme cases described should be avoided, and a BizDev should validate these points early in the collaboration.

Tasks of BizDevs according to level: junior, middle, senior

I progressed from junior to senior in 4 years.

In the work of a BizDev, the results are measured by specific indicators such as profit, the number of clients, quality of cooperation, initiative in R&D, and so on. Achieve more – get promoted.


  • direct work with clients, gaining experience in communicating with partners;
  • participation in the development of strategies at the grassroots level;
  • maintaining current relationships with advertisers;
  • surface-level market research and niches.


Upon successful completion of KPIs, the BizDev receives a higher grade for the year. In addition to the responsibilities described above, within their sphere of responsibility, they are also tasked with:

  • Deepened work with clients, meetings;
  • More in-depth research;
  • Understanding and conducting SWOT analysis based on past experience.


From middle to the highest grade, a specialist typically reaches within approximately 12-24 months. In addition to the previous competencies, new ones are added:

  • Conducting deep strategic planning for client work;
  • Long-term planning, exploring new niches, advocating for changes, and their implementation;
  • If necessary, independently conducting R&D or in-depth research of a new niche or industry;
  • Pitching results to stakeholders, making decisions on further development, and leading the direction.

Challenges in the work of a BizDev, finding untypical solutions to typical tasks

One of the typical tasks is reaching out to advertisers who work in different parts of the world. For example, you need to find people from a company in California. Sometimes, LinkedIn alone is not enough; reaching out to 200-500 people from a large company may still be insufficient. Then you have to look for gaps, such as people who potentially have contacts with employees of this company. Perhaps they studied with you, lived in the same place, etc. And you need to figure out how to find an approach.

Or there might be a potential client, but there’s no way to reach them; they’re not responding. You notice another advertiser from the same industry in our mutual connections on LinkedIn, with whom they don’t have any business overlap. I honestly told our client, “They won’t be competitors to you in our cooperation. If you can, introduce us.” It worked, and we started working together. Before that, we had been unsuccessfully trying to reach out for a long time.

Informal communications at thematic events, conferences, and meetings make wonders. Once, at an informal meeting, I struck up a conversation with a stranger, and I realized that their business needed our services. A 10-minute small talk resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in profit for the company.

Another typical challenge is the development of advertiser.

For a BizDev, it’s very challenging when you’ve reached a plateau in the volume of cooperation. It’s unclear whether this is already a high indicator or just the beginning. Therefore, a business developer should have a clear strategy for developing cooperation volumes. Otherwise, it requires a very long, thorough, and meticulous process with the client. Sometimes, personal contact is crucial, which can happen in various forms: from calls and meetings to playing golf together. You invite the client to a meeting and, among other things, try to validate and understand where they are in the market and what to do next.

Sometimes there are disputes or simple misunderstandings regarding advertisers’ accounts receivable. Due to objective reasons, the numbers may not match, and then negotiation skills need to be activated.

An interesting aspect of the job is researching new niches. It’s BizDev who’s responsible for the business part of this process. We had a story where marketing colleagues came and told us they found a huge untapped niche where we could sell our services.We were surprised — how did we not notice it before? We analyzed everything and realized that business developers and marketers look at this case from different perspectives: they saw an opportunity in the form of a huge untapped niche, players of which could be provided with services. However, when we analyzed advertisers, we realized that they simply do not work with companies like ours and do not pay for the services we provide. Their maximum is something like the referral program of Monobank “bring a friend — get 50 UAH”. Our goal is to build cooperation with advertisers who understand what unit economics, user incentives, the difference between Google and Facebook traffic, etc., are. So we explained that there is no market in this niche, only demand for clients.

Soft skills in the work of a business developer: how to motivate the client to take a “leap of faith”

In most cases, the work of a BizDev is about communication, so soft skills should be constantly worked on. With experience, views on certain things and approaches change. For example, at the beginning of my career, I tried to be aggressive, to negotiate the necessary conditions for the company at any cost. However, over time, I refined this approach and realized that sometimes it’s not necessary to push and bend purely your line at any cost. No one benefits from the situation when a client closes up after a dispute where you insistently stand your ground.

If you want to make millions with a person, you need to understand who they are in life. Don’t neglect simple human interaction. It allows you to find common ground through which your cooperation will subtly pass. People appreciate being treated as humans: when they are understood, heard, and when you see more than just a source of income and KPI fulfillment in the client.

Sometimes, negotiations and persuasion alone can save the situation and encourage the advertiser to change. I had a client with conservative views, which meant his business was not making profits because his competitors were more progressive. After lengthy negotiations and multiple informal conversations, he finally dared to take that “leap of faith”. The client agreed to change some approaches, and it brought very good profits.

A great BizDev is someone with a high level of empathy.

However, this doesn’t mean neglecting your boundaries or interests; they should be clearly defined and always kept in mind.

You also need to have developed multitasking skills. We don’t have situations where you’re constantly dealing with one client or focused solely on one area. You have to tackle very different tasks, switch quickly, and allocate your time wisely.

Nobody is born with these skills; they all can and should be trained. For this, I would advise engaging with as diverse a range of people as possible. Consider what you would find interesting to hear from them, create a conversation plan, analyze how it all went, and identify areas for improvement. Then, work on improving your skills in spontaneous communication, which are extremely important in our field.

About the importance of hard skills: a BizDev has an Excel and time. What tools do professionals use

Hard skills are also important, although I disagree with the notion that “without an economic or mathematical background, you shouldn’t enter this field.” People with diverse backgrounds come into BizDev with various experiences. It’s essential to have analytical thinking. This allows you to quickly form combinations in your head during negotiations and understand potential gains or losses.

But in most cases, a BizDev professional has enough time and Excel. The ability to create simple pivot-tables, knowledge of basic formulas like look-up, index match, and a range of others will help conduct standard data analytics for decision-making here and now. We also use a number of services that facilitate our work:

  • Grammarly — helps to create a high-quality letter to the advertiser in English. You can use different styles, from simple to formal.
  • Monday — is a planner that helps to structure project tasks.
  • SignalHire, — allow you to find people’s contacts with minimal information. They use data from open sources.
  • SimilarWeb — is a powerful tool often used by marketers, but it also helps us in calculations. With its help, you can analyze website traffic and evaluate competitors.
  • Tableau — allows us to track campaign performance.
  • ChatGPT — where would we be without it now.
  • Premium Linkedin — significantly increases the chances of finding leads.

BizDev often has to compare the performance of different periods of collaboration with a client, and for this, you need to know the key metrics of the unit economics of your collaboration. If they have changed negatively, you need to understand what these metrics are, why this happened, and what could have influenced them. This is necessary in order to be prepared for a discussion about the problem and its analysis.

Ultimately, there’s an important balance between soft and hard skills and their synergy. There are situations where you can better convey and substantiate your opinion with numbers and data, and vice versa — when you have already built trusted relationships with the client and can say, “I have this idea, let’s discuss it.” It all depends on the specific case.

“We integrate our internal teams with the external world”

At expla, I can’t imagine how one can manage without our work, as we are the link that connects internal teams with the external world. We are responsible for the development of advertisers, and to a large extent, the growth of the company depends on us.

BizDevs are valuable, particularly because of their helicopter view – the ability to grasp the entire picture globally. It would be difficult and time-consuming for individual structural units to do this on their own, considering the need for their interaction and coordination. In my work, communication with internal teams is even more extensive than directly with clients because it involves constant search for better conditions and efforts to optimize processes.

To my former self and to young professionals just entering this field, I would advise developing communication skills. Also, it’s important to be attentive and maintain a certain level of professional skepticism and caution because sometimes there are dishonest clients. There have been cases where clients, for example, did not pay the full amount.

It’s also important to maintain a healthy balance of persistence in collaboration with the client: pushing too hard in a discussion may cause the advertiser to withdraw. You can always assess the missed opportunity at the moment, but you won’t be able to calculate the lost opportunities, which could be much greater. Ultimately, everything comes with experience, and learning from our own mistakes is absolutely normal.

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