Business Development Managers and Directors


Exploring this Job

You can learn more about this career by reading books such as Business Development For Dummies, by Anna Kennedy (For Dummies, 2015). Talk to business development directors and managers about their careers. Ask them for tips on what to do in college to prepare for the career, how to break into the field, and what a typical day is like on the job. Join business and sales clubs in high school and college to learn about business practices and to start building your professional network. Obtain a part-time sales job to develop your sales skills and experience working with others.

The Job

Business development directors and managers fill a variety of roles depending on the organization. For example, a director at a Fortune 500 company might spend much of her time looking into potential acquisitions of competitors that either have a desired market share (youth, particular geographic region, etc.), type of intellectual property, or other asset that would be beneficial to her company. A director at another company might instead focus on analyzing his company’s products, sales strategies, or customer base to develop recommendations on how to increase sales. He might identify a company that offers a product that could be co-branded with his company’s product. Real-life examples of co-branding include those of GoPro and Red Bull; Macy’s and Karl Lagerfeld; and Cold Stone Creamery and Tim Hortons. At another company, a business development professional might be responsible for new product development.

Business development directors focus on the big picture and typically take the lead in identifying and generating business deals, acquisition/merger possibilities, etc., while managers perform some of these duties, but also supervise business development associates and the everyday operation of the office. At many mid-size to small companies, there may just be a director and an associate or two who are responsible for business development. In general, business development professionals perform the following duties:

  • identify future business opportunities by reading industry publications, conducting market research, and meeting with industry analysts and their counterparts at other companies
  • develop a deep understanding of their industry, how their company fits in the industry, the company’s competitors (their products, services, pricing, marketing strategies, etc.), and their own company’s strengths and weaknesses
  • after identifying several business development opportunities, use spreadsheets and other methods to determine which opportunities to pursue based on the costs to his or her company and the potential monetary benefits of the partnership or action
  • pitch business development ideas to senior executives
  • cold-call or e-mail potential business partners or meet with them in-person to explain potential business development opportunities
  • negotiate with representatives of other companies on proposed deals
  • close deals with the assistance of their company’s top executives, lawyers, risk managers, accountants, and sales and marketing professionals
  • assess current customers and determine how their company can sell more goods or services to them
  • use customer relationship management software to help manage interactions with potential and current business partners