Who is a BizDev? What do they do, and how much does a Business Development Specialist earn?

Business rarely grows on its own, even if all mechanisms work smoothly. Typically, at a certain stage, companies hire a Business Development Specialist – someone who systematically seeks new growth opportunities, works on the commercial component of the business, and optimizes market strategies. Oleksandr Sydorets, Senior Business Development Manager at expla, talks about the BizDev profession.

About my own path in the profession

In my third year of university, I began searching for a serious job. At that time, job fairs were held at the university, where we got acquainted with big companies like KPMG, Philip Morris, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, and others. Their events, training sessions, and business cases became the first step towards employment for many students. I interned at Procter & Gamble, then joined the finance department at Philip Morris, where I worked for almost a year. I also tried to do business in Ukraine with my friends. Unfortunately, it wasn’t successful, but I gained valuable experience. 

I was advised to apply to Genesis (at that time, expla was still part of the holding) by friends who worked there. Within a few weeks, I went through all the selection stages and landed a position as a Junior Business Development Manager.

The company was interested in my previous experience, and my colleagues liked my entrepreneurial mindset, as it is one of the values ​​of expla. Over the four years, I progressed to Senior Business Development Specialist. 

Who is a BizDev and what does he do

A Business Development Specialist is an expert who focuses on business growth. Their goal is to ensure that the company earns more, preserves gains, and continues to develop. About 70% of the work involves communication, negotiations, and resolving current issues that arise in the business. 

The main tasks of a BizDev include:

  • Market research and trend analysis, studying competitors, collecting and analyzing data related to market opportunities and challenges.
  • Developing business development strategies, including the development of new products and services, expanding services/product range, or increasing market share.
  • Finding new clients and partners, negotiating to attract new business partners and increase sales.

The question often arises whether a BizDev is a sales manager. I see it this way: not every sales manager is a BizDev, and not every BizDev is a sales manager. In my opinion, the work of a BizDev is more comprehensive, with sales functions constituting only about 30%. Typically, a sales manager finds a partner and passes on the work with them to their colleagues, such as the project team. In contrast, for a BizDev, when a partner is found, the work is just starting.

About the pros and cons of the profession

Every crisis teaches the importance of risk diversification. During the full-scale war, we managed to preserve and increase turnover because we always strive to diversify our business: develop different geographies, markets, and new partners. If one thing fails, you will have the opportunity to stay afloat.

But there are still no guarantees, and that’s the toughest part of the profession. There’s always the risk that you won’t preserve the results, the factor of failure, the risk of non-payment from partners. Most partners are scattered around the world, and you may never even see some of them. Although there are definitely advantages in international communications — you work with companies from all over the world, get acquainted with different cultures, opportunities, and challenges.

What skills are needed for a Business Development Specialist

Among the hard skills, knowledge of MS Excel is definitely necessary. You need to be able to work with tables and formulas or be ready to learn quickly because it’s about 70% of what’s needed for the job. BizDev also deals with various CRM systems: we use internal ones, and some use, for example, Tableau.

However, BizDev is more about soft skills. Primarily, it’s about communication skills: you need to structure the conversation in a way that you have answers to questions that partners might ask in advance. You’ll also need critical thinking skills to find unconventional solutions. There are no clear rules in business development; you can always come up with something new.

How much does a BizDev earn and how to enhance career growth

This position typically involves a base salary plus a bonus component (percentage), so it all depends on performance. A junior specialist can start from $1000 and reach $3000+ over the course of a few years. There’s practically no limit to earnings: your income depends on the company’s profits. If you start as a Junior Business Development Manager, you can eventually become the head of the Business Development department. From this position, it’s quite logical and realistic to progress to managing companies. A bright example of vertical growth for a BizDev is advancing to the position of commercial director.

Googling after googling: how to become a BizDev

The most important thing for a BizDev is to know how to google and have the desire to get to the essence of any question. Everything you need is already on the internet. If you are asked about the procedure for opening a business in Singapore, you should be able to find the information.

If we’re talking about university majors, they could include economics, finance, marketing, mathematics, analytics, and so on.

It’s great when someone comes into BizDev from FMCG companies, the Big Four (PwC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and KPMG), or other auditing firms. This is valued because the person is already familiar with the business culture and knows how it operates.

But the background is not the decisive factor. We always value practical task execution, so we give tests. The classic test tasks we offer include market research, finding specific players, and evaluating our potential to work in that market. If a person finds information, that’s a plus. If they also propose solutions and present them clearly, that’s even better!

In general, the profession of Business Development Specialist is very popular: any commercial company typically has a Biz Dev position. Therefore, such specialists will be needed in performance marketing, IT, financial companies, and so on.

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