almost 7 years ago by Jenny Woods

What makes a good business developer?

Lm Headshot 3

What makes agood business developer? A recruiter’s view. 

What’s the average life expectancy of an agency businessdeveloper? 2 years? 1 year? 6 months? The more ruthless amongst uswould say that it depends upon their performance, but as we allknow, it can sometimes take many months or sometimes years of hardwork to land a new client. Unfortunately agencies are somewhatnotorious for their high turnover rate of new business personnel,whether it’s due to impatience, issues with cultural fit,unrealistic expectations of what it takes to win new business inthe ‘new normal’, miscommunication of goals or simply recruitingthe wrong person in the first place.

So how do you make sure you hire someone who can deliver thecommercial growth you need and with whom you can build a longlasting and successful working relationship? Recruiting a goodbusiness developer is tricky; we know of a great many agencies whoare currently looking for an in-house business developer – it’s notan easy role to fill.

In this blog post we hear from Leon Milns, founder ofrecruitment consultancy Adam. Here he shares his thoughts and tips forrecruiting the perfect new business person to fuel your agencygrowth.

I’ve been recruiting within the agency & digital marketplacein the North West for 14 years and the burning topic of what makesa good new business development professional and how to source oneis still a conundrum.  Let’s be clear with this, it’s not justresults that make a good business developer but someone who is a“good egg” with bags of personality and enthusiasm who can drivecommercial growth through inspiration, gentle persuasion and greatrelationship building prowess.

These folks are really hard to find, nominally because thepeople who are most adept at this skill are business owners or highfliers who are well & truly tied into a business from a careerperspective or performance based bonus or profit share. Additionally, you’ll probably meet smart, charismatic, articulateBD people who lack the substance to actually get any seriousbusiness done, and on the flip side, you may well come across somewho are extremely organised and likeable people, but whounfortunately lack the innate instinct to close out a potentialpiece of business, meaning that they are unable to add thecommercial value required of any good new business person.

So what should you look for in a good business developer? In myview they have the following traits in abundance –

  • They are smart, creative thinkers and innovative problemsolvers who think with clarity and act quickly.
  • They are articulate and good communicators who are happyliaising with internal teams as well as their clients or partnersin order to keep everyone abreast of progress anddevelopments.
  • They make things happen – these folks are well versed in makingdeals happen by hook or by crook – not through unethical measuresbut by ensuring the interests of all parties are taken into accountand expectations are managed and exceeded.
  • They are consummate relationship builders – in this day andage, this is the most important trait for an NBD professional –people buy from people they like to deal with, so having a commoninterest or being able to build effective relationships with apotential business partner is an absolute MUST.
  • They understand partner needs. What I mean is that they trulyunderstand what the partner really wants and this only materialisesby asking the right open questions and getting to the heart oftheir business problems – a clear solution to this can then bepresented by the NBD professional which will be welcomed with openarms if the right steps have been followed up to this point.
  • They have boundless stamina and an insatiable level of desireto succeed. Deals can take an enormous amount of time tomaterialise and can involve and a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. Hence,a good new business person will be able to keep an eye on thebigger picture and never give up on identifying a solution thatsuits everybody’s interests.
  • They are relentless – or do they happen to be in the rightplace at the right time? People often say it’s a question of luckbut in my view, luck is the result of a wealth of hard work andpersistence.

Remember Leon’s guidance next time you are looking for someoneto help you to drive your agency forward. Rather than plumping forthe first person to come along, take the time to find the rightperson to fit your business, both from a cultural and a deliveryperspective.

Be clear about what you expect from them – is it a higher numberof leads? Do you have an issue converting the leads you attract? Doyou need someone who can develop and implement a full sales andmarketing plan? These will all require a different type of personso make sure you get someone who is well suited to help solve yourprecise problems.

And bear in mind that people who are naturally good atrelationship building, will be naturally good at making a greatfirst impression. Be open with them, ask questions, and don’t beafraid to spend some proper time with them to get to know the realperson. Remember, to work together effectively it has to be a truetwo-way relationship. You will have a much more successful newbusiness team that way.