In my last post I wrote about the potential expiration date business development execs and sales people face. My conclusion is this position is still vital in many companies, but businesses need to be careful when hiring.
Here is what I’ve observed as makes a great business development person:
- They are attractive.You can fill in whatever that means to you – I’m not writing about gender politics or lookism here, just stating what I’ve seen work. This can mean they wear nice clothes, tailored, well accessorized, they are genetically blessed, they own a gym membership, they smile a lot and tell funny jokes – whatever it is, they are someone people like to see more of.
- They are confident.
This can be wrongly confused with egoism. It’s not about being the badass business school/Ivy league grad with high self value. It’s more about being able to enter a crowded room and not feel self-conscious. To walk about to anyone, introduce yourself, and start up a conversation knowing they will like you.
- They “own” your company.
This doesn’t need to mean a literal ownership. It means they identify, believe in, and can rattle off your company’s mission, core offerings and differentiators at the drop of a hat. They are a citizen of your company before they are an “ambassador”.
- They like people.
Barbara Streisand may have sung it, but the bottom line proves it. Bus dev is based on networking – and creating a “pipeline”. People who don’t like people may be able to do this job for awhile, but as Blank pointed out, they will burn out eventually.
- They can make the ask.
That point when the cocktails run dry and prep school jokes segway to “in all serious though”, does your business development person have the confidence to make the ask? To look rejection from their new “friend” in the face, and to put a number on the table.
- They can close.
This seems obvious, but I put all the weight on this skill as the “ring to rule them all”. What Blank pointed out about the ever pumping sales pipeline is that the number one failing of sales execs was closing a deal. If your bus devver is fresh, that first close may determine their worth. If you’re hiring for experience, my suggestion is asking them “what is the biggest deal you’ve ever personally closed?” Somewhere between the hot lead and getting a signed contract, is where your exec will add the most value.
- It’s about the game, not the money.
In Wall Street 2 the main character asks the villian “What’s your number?”, meaning how much could you make and retire happily. The villian answers, “More.” It’s not about the money with people like Elon Musk of Tesla or Warren Buffet. It’s about the thrill of the chase. Your bus dev people should feel the same thrill, so even when they’ve hit their goals, made their bonus and are ready to take a well-deserved vacation, they will already be looking forward to Q3.
For more insights and help with getting your own business launched, visit me at Onertia.com. Onertia is a marketing and business strategy consulting practice for early venture companies.